Division two needs tweaking, say coaches

With the Southland division two rugby round-robin now concluded, most associated with the 19-team competition have given the extensive format the thumbs up.

Coaches interviewed by The Southland Times were confident the Council of Clubs review would have findings to refine and improve the format.

Marist co-coach Derek Manson said the interaction between town and country clubs was “a big plus". “The season has exposed us all to a much wider and varied competition in terms of opposition that took away any repetitive boredom of a competition with too few teams."

But Manson said although the four semifinalists deserved to be on top, there was the potential for some teams to enjoy an easier run by not having to play one or two of the heavyweights.

“At the end of the day, there is the argument that some teams could be disadvantaged and others could prosper from the incomplete round-robin."

Manson and other coaches maintained the competition had to be smaller to give all a fair chance.

Many advocated elevating the top four or five teams from division two to division one so two 14-team competitions could be staged.

Mossburn Stags coach Jeff Manson agreed the competition had to be beneficial for all tiers, not just the elite Southland Stags. “It must not boil down to Senior C teams not turning out. The review process with which I am involved is armed with many good ideas and options to bring together."

Pioneer coach Gavin Hickey said the competition had produced “good, tight and even games" throughout the season.

“It would be good though if we could get to playing all teams involved in the competition. Lifting some division two teams to division one would be the right way to go but some division one teams might not favour the idea."

Balfour manager Mike Burr said the competition had to be split so all teams could complete their round-robins. He said Balfour were demoralised at the start of the season when hammered by teams from bigger clubs. Country teams were vulnerable to comings and goings. He thought two 14-team competitions was the answer.

“It should be split into two or promote the several best teams."

Improving relative newcomers Wrights Bush, winner of eight games in only its third comeback season, enjoyed the competition.

Coach Brendan Hamilton said town and country interaction was beneficial for all. “Thirteen or 14-team competitions would be very good. We are looking forward to next season with almost 100 per cent assurance from players they will return."