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We started this year with a new format for prem colts rugby. There was to be one full round (seven games), then semis and final. There was hope that the final would be a curtain-raiser to the Highlands v Hurricanes game this weekend. Then there was to be a knockout comp starting in four weeks' time, because of university holidays, culminating in a secondary final on August 4. This radical new comp was designed to have far less interference from the varsity year (i.e. holidays and exams) and ensure all rugby was played on Saturdays.
So what has transpired?
The final is not being played as a curtain-raiser at the stadium because we are playing a test against France - in a month! I can't work that out, but don't get me started. The final is between Varsity and Kaikorai on Varsity No4 (wherever that is). We could have pumped this game up and had live coverage, but this is no longer possible. We couldn't even schedule it for the University Oval, which beggars belief. The add-on competition. The round-robin competition is all being played on one day and every team plays three 30-minute games. The quarters, semis and finals over the next three weeks.
And we wonder why kids aren't playing colts rugby any more? I'd like to take this opportunity to personally apologise to every colts player in the comp for the way this has played out. And yes, it is an unmitigated disaster. The competition deserves a lot more. I watched the semi between Kaik and Dunedin, in which Kaik came back from a 14-point deficit with 20 minutes to go to win by one. In short, it was a fantastic advertisement for the game that nobody witnessed and the final will be the same - a tragedy. By the way, Varsity should prove too strong in the final and will go unbeaten for the year. Get along if you can, Varsity No4, 1pm - sorry can't give you directions!
Junior rugby as promised
I was at the ``secret squirrel'' meeting the other night where the plight of kids' rugby was a major talking point. The U13 grade has five club teams in it, with John McGlashan making it six. The U12 grade is faltering as well, with numbers down, with DN and AU forced to enter a combined team. The under-13 grade is possibly not helped by the Southern Super team, previously coached by Colty and now by Rea Cordtz. This team has come through junior ranks unbeaten for the past four or five years. In the first two games of this year, they put 180 points up over two of last year's semifinalists. A lot of these kids have drifted away to secondary school teams but the numbers are still well down.
A lot of clubs are questioning whether the ORU puts adequate resourcing into primary schools. They are citing that, especially soccer but also league and hockey, are spending a lot of time running programmes in primary schools and that is having a substantial affect on numbers. They feel ORU has abandoned the primary schools. I have spoken with Richard Kinley, who rejects that suggestion, but he is more than happy to sit down and discuss if there is a better way forward. I look forward to that discussion with interest. And is it really necessary to have ``Super Teams'' in kids' rugby?
The Topp Cup is at stake in Alex on Colin Meads' birthday Monday (even if it is Sunday?) between Central and South. The word is Central is too big, too strong and will win in a canter, as it has too much depth. The word is Clinton has been splashing the cash to get Clutha halfback Jared Edwards out of retirement and hunting in the hills and he will front for them in the second round - money talks down South as well! Also, big Willis Paterson from Lawrence was seen in tears late in its game with Owaka with refereeing decisions going against Lawrence. But things turn quickly, as his big smile returned when Lawrence scored a late try to win it.
Comings and goings
The ``big brawl'' from a few weeks ago between Southern and Kaik seniors is still playing out before the judiciary - really? I hear it didn't end there on the Saturday: it was reconvened in the Octagon later that night - a terrible look! Leroy Van Dam has gone from the Sharks - they'll miss him - Coryn Huddy (Keeper) was appointed manager of Otago and has gone to Darwin before the season has started - what does he know? On a serious note, GI lost one of its true ``heavies'' in Morgan Potbury a couple of weeks ago. He was a player, a coach, a club captain, a president and a life member and they won't fill those boots! Go well, big fella. To finish, surely ``Breeny'' isn't coming back??
Thrashed the ``Hammer'' from the Eels last weekend and on to Liam Howley from the Magpies, so the new streak is well and truly under way. The Eels will crush the Sharks (12-) at the Elver Pit, so I'm just giving up 15 points to Liam here! The Hawks (12-) will beat the Magpies in the battle of the birds at Bog Bathgate. Varsity (12-) should get it done over AU at the Pony Pit, but the Broncos are due. Kaik (13+) will finally get a win at home over Zingers at the High Veldt.