Clubs want place on board to make certain voices heard

Metropolitan clubs want better representation on the Otago Rugby Football Union board.
Metropolitan clubs want better representation on the Otago Rugby Football Union board.
Metropolitan clubs wanting a place on the board of the Otago Rugby Football Union are not critical of the board's role - they simply believe the board would be better if it had club representation.

Club chairmen and delegates have met in a series of meetings over the past couple of months about concerns over the direction of the game and what can be done about it.

The clubs are concerned about the lack of players playing the game, player numbers coming through from school and the opportunity for players to progress from club rugby to the Otago team.

The clubs believe a place on the board, along with a place for the country clubs on the board, will be the one way of getting their voices heard.

The clubs have been rattled over the off-season with the growth of overseas competitions which are taking players out of the club competitions.

Club used to have representatives on the board but when the union nearly went out of business because of bad debts in 2012 a new constitution was introduced and a board appointment panel was part of that.

Business skills and independence were seen as vital skills to get on the board. The board now sits at eight members but will be enlarged to 10 if the clubs get their way.

The proposed change to the constitution is because a direct voice was needed.

"Both the Otago Metropolitan clubs and the Otago Country clubs are aware of the changes pending of the game in New Zealand and worldwide, and are desirous of protecting the game and club positions that are fundamental to New Zealand rugby," the proposal said.

"While the existing board and board selection panel are effective current governance mechanisms, the clubs believe it important to have a direct voice at governance level going forward."

Clubs have been finding it tough in recent years as player numbers dwindle and the pathway of players from clubs to Otago sides get blurred.

There is also the worry players will be going off and playing in overseas competitions - not playing in the local club competition - and then returning to just play for Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Many club administrators were worried about the emergence of the Global Rapid Rugby competition before Christmas and that it was drawing players away from Dunedin. With competitions and teams springing up in the United States and Asia, players had options.

There had been a suggestion from the clubs to have a percentage of players in the Otago team having to be selected from premier club rugby.

Clubs brought players to town with the carrot for players of possibly playing for Otago but if that was eliminated, clubs would struggle to get players.

There are also worries about the availability of players near the end of the season and the club semifinals and finals.

The club chairmen believe the board is doing a good job but it is seven years since the new constitution was introduced and perhaps it is time to get clubs back involved more directly with the board.

The board pointed out there was the Metropolitan Rugby Council and the Otago Country Rugby Board which could deal with club concerns.

The board had suggested four meetings throughout the year between club representatives and the board could be a way to overcome barriers.

Any change to board numbers will require a constitution change. With clubs having the majority of voting rights they should secure the changes which will be discussed at the union's annual meeting at Taieri Rugby Football Club on Wednesday.

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