Representative players to miss end of club season

The premier club season will start on April 10 and finish on July 31, knocking out the Otago representative players from the business end of the season.

But it was felt the season had to run longer to give players across all grades a fair deal and allow colts players to get enough rugby.

The premier grade will start with the Speight’s Jug round which will involve five rounds. The season will then move into one full round for the Galloway Trophy. The three weeks of playoff games, involving the top six teams, would then be played with a big finals day set for July 31.

Otago players were likely to be pulled out of club rugby after July 17 to get ready for the national provincial championship (NPC).

Dunedin metropolitan council of rugby clubs chairman Paul Dwyer said the council decided on the dates for the good of all players across all grades.

He said if the final was on July 17 then some premier sides would be done by the middle of June and that was not good for any club.

"We had to look at more than just premier rugby. We had to look at colts and junior colts and make sure they get enough rugby," he said.

Dunedin was in a unique situation compared to other club competitions in the country, he said.

Much of the playing base was made up of tertiary students.

With the university break between semesters, players could come back and the season be all but finished at the start of the second semester if the final was on July 17. The later final date meant the colts players will get some meaningful games after coming back from the break.

Dwyer said it was a tricky schedule to work out as there was a national under-20 competition involving a Highlanders side set to be played at the start of the season and then the NPC at the end.

There is no firm date for the start of the NPC but it is likely to be about August 8-9.

All nine clubs have indicated they will have a team to enter the premier grade.

A nine-team competition makes it difficult to work out an even playing schedule and for teams to have a home game every second week. Four teams will have two byes.

Two pools, based on finishing order from last year, would play cross-pool games in the Speight’s Jug. How many points are carried through to the Galloway Trophy is yet to be decided.

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