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Rugby Southland killing competition

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2012

Forget Waituna Lagoon, Southland premier club rugby is at tipping point and if it does slip completely into a toxic wasteland it will be the Stags who suffer.

A quiet little stoush has been brewing in recent weeks over Midlands' refusal to play a team in the premier B competition this year.

On the face of things it sounds like a small matter barely worth a mention outside of the minutes of the union's advisory committee.

However, this little ripple has developed into deeper waves washing over clubland.

Eager to get their way and ensure they didn't lose players to neighbouring lower division clubs, there has been a threat that Midlands may withdraw its senior team from the premier competition.

Having a Winton-based team competing for the Galbraith Shield has been a much-needed breath of fresh air for club rugby's top prize and losing it would be a disaster.

History suggests the Eastern/Northern Barbarians concept will be lucky to last beyond its debut season.

If the worst was to happen and both clubs dropped out of premier, the Galbraith Shield would become a five-team competition.

That would be simply untenable. It would hold little interest for the players and it would be a poor nursery ground for representative players.

It would be Oamaru and we would be North Otago.

Rugby Southland plans to undergo yet another club review this season, with a view to changes in 2013.

What the unions must find is a way to retain the clubs currently in premier and bring in another club to get the minimum number of starters up to eight.

I agree club rugby should be for the players. The competitions should reflect the type of rugby the people want to play – be it social or serious.

But if the Stags are to be competitive in the top flight, there has to be a vibrant competition for them to select players from.

Unfortunately, Rugby Southland is playing a major part in killing the premier competition.

By passing the costs from player contracts on to the clubs – accommodation, cars, expenses etc – the clubs are being forced to become businesses in their own right.

Club funds that should be going into making sure the clubrooms are maintained and that junior teams have enough jersies to go around are going into the pockets of greedy, mercenary wannabes that often have little understanding of what it means to be a true professional.

The clubs should band together and agree they will no longer "pay for play" but unfortunately, the level of trust required for this to happen is non-existent.

That makes it Rugby Southland's responsibility.

Some club rugby players are being offered exorbitant sums to turn out for clubs. How a player can go through $8000 of "petrol vouchers" in a season is beyond me. I would suggest they need to change their (club-provided) car.

Clubs should be allowed to organise jobs, maybe provide a bit of petrol money where necessary, but that's it.

Amateur clubs paying players is ridiculous, unsustainable and the beginning of the end for Southland as a serious rugby entity.

But don't expect anything to change.

6 comments
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Outram   #1   08:27 am Feb 18 2012

Sounds like rugby in Southland is in simiar strife to that in Otago where the grass roots game has been sacrificed for the professional players and managers. Only difference is the ratepayers in dunedin have an enormous debt to pay for a stadium which will be underused and 3/4 empty.

ray heathcote   #2   01:31 pm Feb 18 2012

i played for the love of the game in nz and aussie and the beer after and only was payed when i played league in aussie these so called pros should have played freezing works rugby in the 70s that sorted the boys from men and the beach boys were the best at it and we played for our mates

get over yourselves town!   #3   03:14 pm Feb 18 2012

It is obvious that there is a growing divide between country and town teams. If town players got over their egos and played for the love of the game there would not be the financial issues around the game that we have today! They all think they are professionals and demand to be payed or get all of their kit for free. They would get a reality shock if they turned out for a country team (although we all know that wouldn't happen as it would be too far for them to travel) and actually do some fundraising in the pre season to insure the clubs financial viability for the year!

reni   #4   02:35 pm Feb 19 2012

Beach tha best<as in ocean beach

Name Them   #5   09:07 pm Feb 19 2012

We all know who the people are who are offering the incentives to go to various clubs. Nathan how about you grow some "goolies" and name them, do your job and come up with the proof and names,it's not hard everyone else knows !!!!!

Start with maybe Woodlands, then Star and of course Invercargill. !!!!

jp   #6   02:51 am Mar 20 2012

The sad thing about this story is that is true. The country clubs just cannot compete , contanatly losing young guys as there lack of job oppurtinues to invers chch or aussie and there nothing that anyone can do about it rugby southland only option would be to prop up the country clubs, with stags player and cash or the premier comp will be just a 5 team comp and that would be sad, even sader the boys for winton gore and the like would probaly be happy to play in Div 1 and play for a beer with there mates and other team

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