Quirks of the draw on display

Taieri's Te-Korohi Rupene crashes through the Green Island defence to score during a Dunedin...
Taieri's Te-Korohi Rupene crashes through the Green Island defence to score during a Dunedin premier club rugby match at Miller Park last month. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
The round that wasn't will be played this weekend.

Confused? Don't be.

It would not be a rugby tournament without the odd quirk in the draw - think Super Rugby and those awkward combined standings that make no sense unless you can solve the Rubik's cube in the time it takes the jug to boil.

Premier rugby was nice and simple last year. Everybody played each other home and away and the top four sides contested the playoffs.

Obviously, that was too easy for everyone to understand, so there has been a change.

To be fair to the administrators, the available playing window was one week shorter this season, so some tough decisions had to be made.

The outcome was one round having to be pruned. But when you have an odd number of teams and an odd number of rounds, something has to give.

The end result is Kaikorai gets just one bye and will play 16 games, while the other eight teams play 15 rounds and get two byes.

It is a mess, really. The round which was randomly cut from the Speight's Jug features the same games which will be played this weekend.

It is cracking round too, with some absorbing match-ups.

Defending co-champion University will host competition front-runner Green Island. It is a shame for everybody that this game will happen just once this season unless they meet each other in the semifinals or final.

Harbour will play Dunedin at Watson Park. The Hawks shared in the title last year and have been excellent again - just the one hiccup against Green Island last weekend.

They should be too strong for the Sharks, who have been mostly disappointing. But then they did beat University and look set to play the role of spoiler this winter.

The match between Southern and Taieri could be another tight game. The Magpies started well but have lost their last three games, whereas Taieri is the only team to beat Green Island and a well-organised unit.

Even the match between Alhambra-Union and Zingari-Richmond has appeal. Both sides are struggling at the foot of the competition table, so tomorrow is a real opportunity to post a victory.

Win or lose, it will be a special occasion for durable loose forward Chris Bell. He will bring up his 250th game for the Colours.

He is just the second player to reach the milestone since the Otago Daily Times started keeping detailed records in 1976.

Erik Va'afusuaga is at the top of the list with 269 games for Taieri and Green Island between 1989 and 2010.

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