Mataura out, Central Pirates and Wright's Bush merge as 2017 club rugby season fast approaches

Rugby.
Clodagh Kilcoyne

Rugby.

Mataura, along with the amalgamation of the Central Pirates and Wright's Bush, have been the casualties during the off season as the 2017 Southland club rugby season fast approaches.

The 2017 club season will start on April 1 with 32 teams set to line up across the premier, division one and division two competitions.

Last year's division two finalists, Mataura, have battled to muster the required player numbers through the off season and have opted to sit out the 2017 season.

The club failed to field a senior team in 2012 but managed to return in 2013.

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The hope is following a season without a senior team the club, which was once a force in Southland's premier competition, will return in 2018.

The Mataura Rugby Club last year celebrated 130 years.

A shortage of numbers have also forced the Central Pirates and Wright's Bush senior teams to amalgamate for the 2017 season and they will go under the banner Bush Pirates.

Wright's Bush had worked hard to regain a senior team at the club following a 15-year absence through the late 1990s and 2000s.

However, the pressure has gone on again in regard to player numbers, and with Central Pirates also battling, it has been decided to merge for the 2017 season.

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Mataura's withdrawal and the Bush Pirates merger has meant for some late changes to the initial draw Rugby Southland had put in place.

The hope is the remainder of the teams will get to the start of the season fine.

"Some clubs are struggling a wee bit for numbers but it is always the case at this time of the year. Come kick-off on Saturday, April 1, hopefully, there will be full squads out there playing," Rugby Southland community operations manager Mike Mannix said.

The premier competition will again feature six teams in 2017.

Meanwhile, the first five weeks of season will act as a grading type period for the division one and division two competitions.

Six teams are confirmed for the division one competition in 2017 - Riversdale, Te Anau, Waikaka, Wyndham, Edendale, Ohai-Nightcaps - and they will play each other through the first five weeks.

Six other teams - Tokanui, Mossburn, Midlands, Waiau Star, Drummond-Limehills-Star, Waikiwi - will playoff amongst each other in the first five weeks to chase two further division one spots for the remainder of the season.

The teams that miss out will slot into what will be an 18 team division two competition which will be split into two even pools, before crossing over for playoffs later in the season.

The Blues, Marist, Pirates-Old Boys, Star, and Woodlands second string teams will play each other through the first five weeks of the season before joining the division two competition.

CLUB RUGBY

Premier

Blues, Eastern-Northern Barbarians, Marist, Pirates-Old Boys, Star, Woodlands.

Premier B

Blues, Marist, Pirates-Old Boys, Star, Woodlands.

Division one

Riversdale, Te Anau, Waikaka, Wyndham, Edendale, Ohai-Nightcaps.

Division one qualifying

Tokanui, Mossburn, Midlands, Waikiwi, Drummond-Limehills-Star, Waiau Star.

Division two

Pioneer, Albion-Excelsior, Otautau, Wakatipu, Riverton, Bluff, Bush Pirates, Collegiate, Balfour/Lumsden.

 - Stuff

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