TRU 'disappointed' by Tasman Trophy defaults

Round eight of the Bayleys Tasman Trophy competition was marred by defaults from Nelson and Stoke, who, for various reasons, were unable to raise teams for their trips over the hill.

Tasman Rugby Union chief executive Tony Lewis said he was "extremely disappointed" that the games were defaulted, but there were extenuating circumstances.

"Nelson could not field a team [on Saturday]," Lewis said. "They had significant injuries in first grade - I think it was nine players out - and significant injuries in second grade, plus seven of their players in second grade had gone to the test match.

"To illustrate how poor they were in second grade, they got beaten 37-10 by Collingwood."

Lewis said Stoke had been struggling all year to find props.

"The eight different props they have had all year were not available, mainly through injury.

"Awatere offered to lend them a prop, and [Stoke] spent all day yesterday trying to find another prop. They couldn't find a prop, so they also defaulted."

Lewis said that from the union's perspective, "it's bloody disappointing".

"But there is also a number of things that we have to take into consideration.

"Each of the two clubs that defaulted, they did not have enough props for first and second grade, and they didn't have props that were of the calibre to play first grade. It becomes a OH and S [occupational health and safety] issue.

"Although we are frustrated and annoyed, we have to work with the clubs.

"The Marlborough clubs have worked with me from Tuesday onward to make sure that they could fulfil their obligations in Tasman Trophy, and they are to be congratulated, and Stoke have worked tirelessly throughout the year to make sure they can field a team, and they were devastated not to be able to."

Nelson have suffered a spate of recent injuries.

"It's frustrating, but it probably gives us an opportunity," Lewis said.

"We are at the moment in the middle of a review of senior rugby in Tasman. On that review group is myself, Charlie Taylor from Wanderers and Robin Beattie from Waitohi."

One of the issues the group is concentrating on is the situation where premier and B teams are often drawn to play a long way apart.

On some weekends, the top side is playing in Nelson and the second team in Blenheim.

"In that case, the resources of the club are stretched, and we have to look at how we can make that work," Lewis said.

"We appreciate 100 per cent the support that the Marlborough teams have given the competition, and we are devastated that the two Nelson teams pulled out, but both have pulled out for legitimate reasons.

"Nelson were prepared to play the game on any other day but this Saturday. They felt they could get a team together.

"But Central saw fit not to take that opportunity, which is their prerogative."

Lewis made special mention of the efforts that Moutere made on Saturday to field a team for a 72-5 loss against Marist, describing it as a "sensational" and a "top-drawer" effort.

The Nelson Mail