Dunedin club rugby scheduled to be all go by the end of March

Everybody should be firmly focused on the Boxing Day test in Melbourne.

But just in case cricket is not your bag then here are some important dates to circle on your calendar.

Premier club rugby will get under way in Dunedin on either March 20 or 21 and teams will get to play each other twice as a full double round will be played.

The organising committee is still considering whether the opening round will get under way with a Friday fixture or not.

The majority of the clubs voted to play a proper double round. Last season, a round of games had to be dropped so the competition could be squeezed into the available window.

That resulted in the ludicrous situation where Kaikorai played 18 games and the other eight sides played 17 games.

It was confusing and lopsided and the clubs have dumped it and come up with a more sensible solution.

In order to finish up by the deadline of July 25 — the Otago contracted players will not be available after that date — the clubs have agreed to play a mid-week round.

There is no news on when that might be yet, but there are not enough Saturdays available.

Clubs have previously been reluctant to play twice in a week as it tested player depth. The teams end up playing three games in just over a week, so it is awfully challenging.

There will be a new governing body for club rugby next season, although the Otago Rugby Football Union will still be charged with the day-to-day running the game at that level.

Colts rugby has a provisional start date of March 28 and nine teams are expected to contest the grade. West Taieri has left to play in the Southern region competition and a starting date for the premier two competition is still being worked on.

The Harbour Hawks have been busy recruiting and announced new talent arriving from Auckland, Wellington, Taranaki and Christchurch.

Otago Boys’ High School first XV loose forward Taylor Dale and dynamic outside back Max Brown have agreed to join Harbour, and Lima Sopoaga’s younger brother, Toka (21), will fill the void left by pivot Logan Allen, who has returned north.

Other clubs have been busy recruiting and pre-season training is expected to begin early in the new year.

The competition was won last season by University, which beat Taieri in a pulsating final.

Taieri has new coaches, the premier side being taken by Scott Guthrie and Murray Roulston.

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