Rugby supporters in Marlborough seem to be overwhelmingly in favour of the current Air New Zealand Cup format being retained if results of a poll conducted by The Marlborough Express are an indication.
Of the 116 people who have replied so far, 110 are in favour of 14 teams remaining in the competition and six are against – a margin of 94.8 per cent versus 5.2 per cent.
The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) is forging ahead with changes which would see four teams dumped from the premier division into a second-tier first division alongside two teams to be promoted from the Heartland competition.
Despite being one of the success stories of the Air New Zealand Cup (ANZC) this season and now sitting fifth on the points table, the Tasman Makos are expected to be one of the teams to be ousted.
The Marlborough Express last week launched a campaign to convince the NZRU that dropping the Makos or any team out of the competition was not in the best interests of New Zealand rugby.
There is a rising groundswell of opinion against changing the ANZC format which has this year been one of the most exciting and popular in provincial rugby competition history.
Throughout the next few weeks, The Express will feature opinions from various high-profile and grassroots personalities supporting our campaign.
Several people have phoned in or emailed their support for retaining the ANZC status quo.
Gavin Marriott, from Christchurch, is a football supporter but loves watching the Makos play. He said, "Keep the ANZC as it is. It's the best competition there is. It's exciting and I've been absolutely fascinated by it. If Tasman and other teams go out, it's the end of me watching rugby."
Prominent Marlborough businessman Graham Lindsay said he strongly favoured the existing format being retained and argues that Super 14 rugby is where the problem lies and people prefer the provincial competition.
"People can vote with their feet when the Super 14 starts. It starts in February and clashes with every other summer sport going. The ANZC has got me watching rugby."
Blenheim's Ron Tannock wants to know how the NZRU decided that cutting four teams from the ANZC was the optimum solution: "What is the problem, and is it still a problem? What other solutions were considered and what are the forecast outcomes for each of the other possible solutions?
"I know this solution has been around for some time but I cannot remember the problem it is meant to solve."
Lyndon Maffey is 100 per cent against the Tasman Makos being dumped.
"The NZRU show no brains if they make this decision. This is possibly the best ever ANZC competition and previous games have proven it's a level playing field where any team can win.
"The NZRU now have the ability to make or break the competition. I hope they chose to leave it as it is because they will kill provincial rugby if they drop four teams. Go the Makos."
Awatere rugby player Leon Olsen is also an ardent Makos fan.
" I want to say, save the Makos. I love the Makos. I want to swim with them. Can't wait to see Chris Jack back in a Makos jersey."
Continue sending in your support and vote on our poll using the following links.
You can email our rugby writer John Alexander on email@example.com
- The Marlborough Express