Wanted urgently: ways to stop country rugby rot

The wrap

The Spannerheads are charging and cut up Kaik in the second spell, especially when midfielder Ray Nu'u joined the fray. They are serious contenders for the play-offs. The Hawks were too fast on the counter attack for Zingers and are unbeaten. The Eels comfortably accounted for AU to stay in the picture. Southern crushed the Sharks up front to comfortably lead the comp and are looking menacing - but Sasagi is gone!

Where have the flowers gone?

So Matakanui are now gone, joining Clyde and Lawrence as lost souls searching for a cemetery. I talked last week about rural towns having a Saturday afternoon focus when home games of "footy" are played and how important it is to the community to meet up on those occasions. I experienced that last year when visiting the Matak game at Omakau. I'm hearing Saturday afternoons in Lawrence are a quiet affair currently. I know Matakanui tried hard to attract players in from Clyde but they couldn't make it work. One thing we need to consider is if it's a lack of front rowers causing the problem, just have "golden oldie scrums" in these games - it's more imperative to keep them playing rather than worrying about the integrity of the game. North Otago and Southland are having the same issues, so we need to come up with solutions - and quickly, before it comes an epidemic. Just some quick points to ponder: 1) Will golden oldie scrums help? 2) Will relaxing the rules help? 3) Would more co-ordinated sharing of players between clubs - even if it is on game day itself - help? 4) Are there just too many clubs? I'll do more on this over the season.

The Highlanders

Not a stellar season so far. Only two wins, numerous crocked ABs, couldn't get past the Canes on Friday, some very confusing selection policies, especially in the tight five and the inside backs. For good measure they're playing the Crusaders this weekend. Can it get any worse? They seem to be playing the same way - very confused. Add that to the situation of one of the owners, the legendary "W.G." Word has it "W.G" brokered the deal for the current owners. He's also been contracted to the Crusaders since the inception as their sponsorship maestro and bought in millions to their coffers. Word is they may have parted ways . Does that mean those sponsorship dollars will now come South? Let's hope so.

The Picking Comp

After getting a few sponsors and "heavies" out of the way I'm going to get the front rowers (who know the most) to go up against me weekly. We'll run a tally each week and if they manage to beat me (God forbid!) Mark Scully from the Speights Alehouse, with a little help from Finchy at the brewery, will put on a night for the victorious "Front Row" club at the Alehouse. It starts next week.

You wouldn't read about ...

So last week, "RSCN" from Kaik started World War 3 with Mrs Abramovich (Kerry Spence) from Harbour, and to really get the rift moving in the right direction he's taking on the whole Harbour Club. As the story goes, "RSCN" is on the dispensations committee of "Metro" and had dispensated an over-age half back so he could play for their Prem Colts against the Bullsharks at the weekend. "RSCN" duly smelled a rat and turned up at Sharkpark and staged a conflagration up and down the sideline with coach Dougy Manu - really "RSCN", couldn't it have waited? I'll keep you informed if the rift deepens.

This weekend

Lost to Brian (Dalai Llama) Morris at the weekend - unbelievable and it won't be mentioned again. This week on to Graham (Sneds) Sneddon, Dunedin's best builder, who needs no introduction. There is big money and reputation on the line this week, so here goes. Kaik comes off the mountain and visits the Sharks (12-) at the Sandpit. I'm thinking I'm one down to "Sneds" already, but the Sharks are due and with "God" on their side let's pray it's tomorrow. The Eels (12-) are trembling like a half-ripe jelly in trepidation on facing the crusading Spannerheads. But I'll tip the upset Eels (just) in the match of the round at the Toolbox. The other two games look easy as Harbour (13+) will stampede the Ponies at the North Ground and Varsity (13+) with Hunt and Umaga-Jensen playing they should cauterise Zingers at Bastion Point. If not it's my world's worst nightmare! Go to odt.co.nz to see the current form 15.



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