Staggered starting dates for the grassroots game in the South

Community rugby has different starting dates throughout the South and an innovative scheme should also lead to more officials in the middle in Dunedin.

Otago Rugby Football Union community rugby manager Richard Perkins said guidelines had been set by NZ Rugby for a phased return to play. Full contact training could begin yesterday and go to June 19.

Pre-season games can start from June 13 and competitions can start from June 19.

The southern region, which covers West and South Otago, will start on June 20, and the junior section will also start that day. Central Otago would begin on June 27 and junior rugby on June 20. Cromwell would field two teams in the top grade in Central Otago. Club rugby in North Otago would begin on June 27.

In Dunedin, premier, premier 2 and premier colts would all start on July 4. The senior grade would start a week earlier, while junior colts would start on July 11.

The junior metropolitan competition would begin on July 4, while the women’s competition was yet to decide on a starting date.

Defending premier champion University would start with a match against Alhambra-Union. Premier games would start at 2.45pm, apart from when the Highlanders were playing at home, when there would be earlier kick-off times.

It is hoped junior finals will be played on September 19 at Forsyth Barr Stadium, which would also play host to the finals of the main metropolitan competition.

The Otago First XV competition would start on June 20 and finish on September 12, with 12 teams lining up again.

Although restrictions may be relaxed by the time competitions start, all clubs had to come up with a stringent health and safety plan. Changing rooms and clubrooms had to be thoroughly cleaned after use. More guidance from NZR was expected next week. Contact tracing for players and spectators would also be worked on.

Perkins said an initiative by the union’s referee education officer, Tumua Ioane, had been adopted, meaning the premier side which had the bye each week would be expected to supply up to nine referees for secondary school games. It had full support from the clubs, he said.


 

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