Return to top grade Pirates' ultimate goal

Jess Tuhega.
Jess Tuhega.
A return to premier rugby is Pirates' ultimate goal although that is unlikely to be in 2018.

The club held a special meeting for its members on Tuesday night to inform them where the club is likely to be heading.

Having withdrawn from the premier grade and struggled for numbers this year, club president Jess Tuhega said it was important to keep them updated, as some might have feared closure.

That was not the case, however, and the club was looking at fielding teams in the premier two, senior and women's grades next year.

It would also try to set up a colts team, although a return to the premier ranks at this stage looked unlikely.

''What we talked about was the possibilities,'' Tuhega said.

''We're not going to get a prem team, probably.

''It's still a work in motion, but we don't know. So we had to tell our members that.

''We also talked about the possibility of becoming a sports hub, merging with other sports codes, to become something different than what's in Dunedin already.''

The goal remains to get a team back in club rugby's top flight, although Tuhega was not sure on a timeframe for that happening.

If it did return, she thought the club would be likely to get back the players that had left to play for other clubs, notably Southern, when the premier team withdrew this year.

However, she did wonder whether there was enough depth in Dunedin rugby for a 10-team competition.

''I ask 'is there enough premier-capable players in Dunedin to field 10 club sides effectively?'

''The competition worked quite well with nine and then you had the promotion-relegation game between Green Island and West [Taieri], with West [Taieri] looking to come up.

''But yeah, it's a watch this space. It's always going to be a watch this space, especially with the changing nature of rugby.

''So it'll be interesting to see where we are in five years, especially in terms of club rugby changing so much.''

Amalgamation with another club was also a possibility.

Tuhega said there were many stand-alone sports clubs in Dunedin, although further north a lot were combining.

She felt it was going to become harder for sports clubs to continue in their present form over the next five years.

As far as combining with another rugby club went, she acknowledged the rumours surrounding combining with Southern, although said several clubs were questioning their future.

While she knew the club needed to do something, she said it was important not rush things.

''We need to be patient, we need to get our people and the ground.

''We need to get our ducks in a row, put it that way, if we're going to survive as a club, whether its at prem level or any level.''

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