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Varsity consigned AU to its seventh straight loss and dragged itself into the four, albeit equal with Southern. In the big game, GI smashed Harbour to go three points clear in the comp. I hear the "heavies" were still going hard Sunday night. Calm down, lads. There is a long way to go. Harbour's depth is being shown up as the dreaded injury toll is rising and coach Ryan Nicholas started at stand-off. Kaik sits second alone after trouncing Southern and it even dished up the big Southern pack - not a good time for forward coach "Moff" to be on holiday! And then there were six. With Dunedin losing to Taieri its season is gone and leaves only six genuine contenders for the four in GI, Kaik, Harb, Varsity, Southern and Taieri.
Junior rugby mutterings
So junior rep rugby is gone in most areas after being led by North Harbour in the hope of attracting more junior players. North Harbour is now going to trial not introducing "tackle" to the game until the kids are 12. The age is now 8. This is also designed to bring more kids into the game. If it works I'm all for it but there is mutterings this could be a disaster down here. They are telling me a lot of kids after a year or two of Rippa Rugby are ready to get down and dirty and make some tackles.
They then leave rugby for other pursuits and come back in as 8-year-olds when they can play real rugby. If that becomes 12, some are worried they won't be back at all. Food for thought I, would have thought. Be very afraid of making big changes. In the meantime let's get rugby development back into primary schools and yes, I know I'm like a broken record on this.
Geoff the ref
The world's best publican from Kaikorai Valley to take the heat off himself has sent me this pearler. The story goes Geoff (the Ref) Simons, the AU stalwart, was reffing an age-grade game between King's and his old alma mater Otago Boys'. The pace of the game was a bit quick for the rapidly ageing Simons and a lot of the calls were made from a distance, leading to a lot of conjecture. A King's supporter came up to Geoff after the game wanting contact numbers for the refs' association. When questioned as to why, the polite supporter respectfully said so that they could get a "real referee" next time! Simons, as a 40-year reffing veteran, was, for the first time in his career, dumbfounded and lost for words - outstanding!
250 not out
This week Chris Bell brings up his 250th prem game for Zingers (the Mighty Colours) against AU at the Pony Pit and fittingly for the Grace Mills Trophy. Only "Eric V" has played more games than Chris, at 269 from memory. His win-loss ratio won't be great - I'd say 60 wins tops out of those 250 - but this makes it even more meritorious. He probably wouldn't have made more than 250 tackles in that time but he's stuck with Zingers through some pretty tough times and is a club legend, deserving of all the accolades that come his way. Mate, if I don't catch up with you this weekend for a beer, congrats and, more importantly, make sure you get "Grace [Mills Trophy] back up to Bastion Point!
What's happening on the farm
Roxburgh beat Clutha - surely that's a misprint? Apparently not, so well done lads. So therefore it is the year Owaka go all the way. Dare we dream?
The Arrowtown Bulls finally won a game when beating Upper Clutha at Tarras, with captain and big lock Malcolm Sutherland scoring the winning try. Shame on you Upper Clutha losing the "Neil Purvis" on the day of Ben Purvis's 100th game - 50 down and ups the lot of you!
North Otago is too hard to talk about. I can't work out what's going on.
The run is over as I lost to Joji Ravula, the Harbour prop, last week, so the tally sits at PD 160, Props 130.
On to J.T. Taylor, the AU prop, this week, so I'll get back on the horse. The Eels (12-) invade Bog Bathgate to take on the Magpies and may just get it done as Southern is going through a mini slump. The Hawks are at home and with a few returning "rapid rugby" players should be far too strong for Sharks (12-), but Sharks eat the odd bird so you never know. The Spannerheads (12-) are in the big smoke to take on Varsity and GI may just get it done as the bookworms aren't travelling well. Zingers (12-) just do it for Grace and Belly and consign AU to eight straight.
The late mail
Lee Piper, from the Sharks, is the Metro clubs' new delegate on the board. The Magpies are having an "old boys" day this Saturday and a big welcome to the 17 (of 37) players from the 1970 side that toured Aussie. Enjoy!