Club rugby, for what it's worth
Club rugby season is almost upon us, which means the rumour mill is in overdrive at the moment.
Who's going where? Why are they shifting? How much are they being paid?
As someone who has been out of club rugby for close to 10 years now, except as a casual observer and occasional reporter, it seems utterly ridiculous that ANY player in Southland is being paid to play club rugby.
This is not the NRL, this is not Super Rugby, this is not even the NPC.
I can accept that some clubs have to provide an enticement to attract the sort of players required to play premier rugby. Petrol money, a job (that's an actual job, not a 'no-show' job a la The Sopranos), the odd leg of mutton, maybe.
That's only because Southland rugby needs a viable premier club competition, to produce players capable of making the step up to representative rugby.
But anything above the sort of payment mentioned above is ludicrous and if clubs are paying over those odds then Rugby Southland needs to finally step up to the plate and do something about it.
The immediate cost to the game appears to be an eroding of club loyalty.
This is not new, but it is sad.
There was a time when club rugby was about wanting to turn up with your mates and have a good time during and after the game. Is it still like that?
The player pool is getting dangerously shallow in Southland. A handful of clubs are scrapping for an ever-decreasing number of players good enough to make a difference at club level.
Some of this province's most famous clubs are finding it difficult to put a senior team on the paddock.
Where will it end?