West Taieri should just take the plunge

West Taieri lock Steve Green (right) jumps for the ball ahead of Green Island players Matt...
West Taieri lock Steve Green (right) jumps for the ball ahead of Green Island players Matt McCutcheon (front) and Jared Williams at Forsyth Barr Stadium last year. Photo: Linda Robertson
The dreaded words - promotion, relegation

So West Taieri (does it have a nickname?) has been unbeaten all year and has beaten its closest rival Dunedin twice so should go on to win the prem II final next weekend. It won it last year and challenged Green Island in a farcical game at the stadium. I suspect if it had won it wouldn't have gone up. I'm hearing it wants to challenge Zingari if it wins this year. But the question remains, does it want to go up? Again, I suspect not. It is eligible as it has the requisite second feeder team. But does it have the depth when injuries set in? Again, I suspect not.

If it wants to go up, the prem competition and the ORFU would welcome the club with open arms as it would get rid of the bye. So should it play the promotion-relegation? Definitely not. It is a waste of time - just take the plunge and go up. If I was running Zingari, I would refuse to play. What can West Taieri do about it? Zingari, which has had a horrific year in terms of results, should fully concentrate on rebuilding its player base so it is more competitive next year. The West Taieri players are probably thinking they deserve a shot at the bottom-placed team and fair enough but in the end it serves no purpose. If you want to play prem rugby - JUST DO IT!

Finals festival

The plans are firming up for the big finals weekend of rugby on at the Greenhouse tomorrow week. The colts final - probably between Varsity and Kaik - will kick off at 11.15am. The prem II final - probably between West Taieri and Dunedin - will kick off at 1.30pm. The Speight's Shield final - probably between Varsity and Taieri - will kick off at 3.15pm. Year 4 (under 8) games will be played between the finals. There will be a kids' race at some stage involving all the junior clubs as well as food stalls and bars on the ODT slab. The day will also feature a clubhouse bar where life members of all clubs l get a free beer on Speight's and there will be interviews with all clubs on how their season has gone. Throw in a band for good measure. It's a $5 donation to get in (kids free) and a gold coin donation for the car park. We are looking for a crowd of 4000 so get along as we want this to be an annual event - you can't afford to miss it.


I hear Otago coach Tom Donnelly has been turning out for the Kaik prem IIs and played a full game for them out in Waikouaiti last weekend. The word is he has been dropped for the semi this weekend against the Sharks as he failed the fitness and folds test - short-sighted decision, I think, but at least he can still make an impact off the bench (at least on the sandpit side of the ground!). I was out at the Toolbox at the weekend and President Red from the Spannerheads got me up to present the trophies so I immediately launched into a story on the Les Griffin Memorial and I was pretty happy with my off the cuff effort. I had only just sat down when one of the life members informed Red that what I'd said was completely erroneous much to the amusement of the crowd! Which just goes to show I'm not always right!

Country rugby

Marist went back to back in the deep south in the Galbraith Shield over Old Boys so big congrats to it. In div 1, Wyndham takes on Midlands and I'm picking the upset with Midlands getting home late. In div 3, high-flyer Otautau is at home to Bluff and the town is on fire apparently so the fishermen go down to the farmers. Nothing to report in div II as no country sides made the final - but where are the much touted Gore clubs Pioneer and Albion? Not there, that's what!

In South Otago, it's a battle for the ages with Clutha at home to the Kai boys, Crescent. If Crescent wins it's a national holiday in Kai for a year. So be very afraid, the sheep are already nervous! Clutha just.

In Central, Upper Clutha hosts Cromwell in the final after both teams had stupefying 8-6 wins over Arrowtown and Wakatip respectively. Upper Clutha hasn't won the banner for 39 years so boy it is due! It hasn't gone that well this year against Cromwell but I'm picking it gets it done tomorrow.

In the north, I see Valley came from fourth to win the final over Kurow so congrats but spare a thought for the Kurow. It just can't get it done.

This weekend

Up against the Pres himself this weekend, Des Smith, so the streak continues after destroying Lawrence Graham from GI last weekend. I've convinced Des to stay on for another five years as president which can only be a good thing. Taieri (12-) takes on Harbour at the Elver Pit in the first semi. It is well documented how understrength both sides are through Otago defections but I think the Eels have more depth and will get it done. Varsity (12-) has been the best side this year and should beat Kaik but I think this will be Varsity's tougher game over the next two weeks. Kaik is a bogey team for Varsity but its all-round strength should see it home.



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