Questions about grades

I refer to the current furore about division two rugby and the allocation of contracted players.

Can someone at Rugby Southland explain why premier teams are permitted to effectively run two senior teams? Can these teams be promoted all the way through to the premier grade?

If no, then why are they playing in a grade containing clubs which may have players, coaches and sponsors with ambitions to reach the ultimate goal of premier grade football?

The current arrangement only serves to keep players interested enough to get the odd run in the big team, and is designed to keep players at premier clubs.

This situation is largely to the detriment of smaller clubs and country rugby in general. In the past four weeks we have seen defaults from Star, Blues and Marist and the competition has gone from a top-four to a top-eight format.

Apropos, the distribution of contracted players. When I coach ed Riverton in premier grade we were told that Rugby Southland could not allocate the players to clubs because it was ''restraint of trade'' - what they made over and above their contacts with the union was up to them.

As for the Woodlands situation, all they are doing is using the current system to their own advantage and good on them for that. It wasn't that long ago that several high-profile players moved to Midlands and took the places of the local boys.

Looks like the chickens have come home to roost there too. All the money in the world cannot buy you loyalty. This has been notably demonstrated by the annual movement of contacted players in premier grade teams.



Rugby Southland commercial and marketing manager Mark Wilson replied:

Each club only has one team per grade. However, in the interest of enabling teams to field 22 players each week the Council of Rugby Clubs (CORC), which acts on behalf of the clubs and governs club rugby in Southland, permits players to interchange between grades with the exception of those players contracted to Rugby Southland or part of our academy.

I understand this may cause come confusion, however, in this case, as with any matter relating to club rugby, Rugby Southland takes its direction from the CORC.

We would be happy for Mr MacCallum to come and speak to us in person on this issue or he can raise his concerns through his CORC delegate.

In relation to Rugby Southland's involvement in where our contracted players play, as per my response recently to another letter, we have no involvement whatsoever. Players choose where they play.