Playoffs need Otago reps, clubs agree

Paul Hessian
Paul Hessian
Consensus may have broken out among Dunedin’s rugby clubs.

The Metropolitan Council of Rugby Clubs met on Monday night to discuss the format and structure of club rugby next season and it appears there was plenty of common ground.

The format of the premier grade proved controversial this season.

Harbour, University and Kaikorai voted against the structure, which had the nine premier teams playing a glorified five-week pre-season and which robbed the teams of their best players at the business end of the competition.

Harbour delegate Kerri Spence said the clubs were more united this season and Monday’s meeting had been positive.

She said there was no appetite to return to the proper double round that existed before Covid-19.

There was also widespread acceptance the schedule needed to be planned from the end and work backwards to ensure the Otago players would be available for the playoffs.

‘‘Harbour, Kaikorai and University were really adamant they should be available because it makes a bit of a mockery of the competition otherwise,’’ Spence said.

‘‘The results from a survey show that everyone wants the best players playing.

‘‘The last two meetings have been really positive. People are willing to change. But it can be quite difficult because we are really restricted by the [representative] season and what New Zealand Rugby say.’’

Spence stressed no resolutions had been reached and the next step was for the delegates to take the options back to their respective clubs for discussion before voting on the structure next month

‘‘D-Day is next month, so it could all change.’’

Another potential change would have the points from the first five weeks carrying over.

That would make those games more meaningful.

‘‘Somehow, and we are not quite sure how it can be done, but those points should carry over.

‘‘That seems to be what the clubs are leaning towards.’’

University Rugby Football Club chairman Paul Hessian did not want to comment before the options had been discussed at club level.

However, he confirmed his club has traditionally supported a playing structure which would ensure the best players were available.

‘‘We had a pretty strong stance on that last season but we haven’t discussed it [ahead of this season],’’ Hessian said.

Kaikorai Rugby Football Club chairman Stu Parker felt many of the problems could be solved by finishing the premier grade before the representative programme gets under way.

‘‘That caused the hiccups last season,’’ Parker said.

‘‘Trying to finish off your premier competition when your Otago players are not available is just too tough.

‘‘And it just means a lot more if you can carry your points through.’’

CRC chairman Paul Dwyer confirmed one of the proposals would have the premier final played on July 16 which would allow Otago players to feature.

He also confirmed there was no enthusiasm for playing games for which the flag points did not carry through.

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