Player movement complex

The cases feature a range of sports, but it is understood that rugby players make up a...
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Gypsy Day and Heartland rugby would appear to have little in common, although these important occasions occur at a time when both groups must make important decisions on their futures.

Gypsy Day, in early June, is when dairying families and stock move on to new pastures.

At the same time in rugby, players must make decisions regarding their futures for the rest of the season.

Any player who is looking to play Heartland rugby must, if he is looking for a change, sign up with his new union before the end of May. Loan players and players of origin must be signed up, but it appears that some individuals and some unions look further afield, especially when their chances in representative rugby are faint.

In the South Island, a number of club players from Marlborough have tied their loyalty to Buller for the Heartland 2018 rugby season.

Buller, with only three clubs to select from, has apparently accepted these registrations before the end of May.

This appears to also cater and provide rugby for those Marlborough players who do not make the Tasman Mitre 10 Cup squad.

Apparently, this action is within New Zealand Rugby laws but it has come at a crucial time. The national union is conducting a review into teenage rugby. One issue sure to come under scrutiny is why secondary school male players who do not follow on into club rugby are not continuing in the sport after they leave school.

One might also wonder what is going to happen to those Buller club players who are going to miss out on representative rugby. New Zealand Rugby, in an effort to bolster Heartland rugby, has allowed the use of "loan" players and "players of origin" but there are numerical restrictions.

You might say that Buller rugby, because of its situation, should be bolstered, but is this system really going to attract more local players? The system, which appears to be officially acceptable, obviously has the support of Tasman and Buller unions and the same problems are mirrored throughout other Heartland unions.

One wonders what next season will bring and who will be involved. How many other unions are in a similar plight?

In North Otago club rugby, the final round of Citizens Shield will be played this weekend. Top qualifier Old Boys, which suffered its third defeat of the season last week, has a 10-point lead and win, lose or draw, will top the table.

In the semifinals next week, Old Boys looks likely to meet Valley, a team that has already beaten Old Boys once this season.

Only six flag points separate second-placed Kurow and third-placed Maheno. Valley meets Athletic Marist, and goes into tomorrow's game with the knowledge that it has the fourth place wrapped up and can look to a semifinal against Old Boys next week.

 - Terry O'Neill

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