Rams could miss final
The Southland Rams' success looks to have come back to bite them, with their trip to the South Island grand final in jeopardy because of financial battles.
The Rams have had one of their best campaigns to qualify for the first time for the final against Tasman in Nelson on Saturday.
However, it seems unlikely that they will make the trip because a cash-strapped Southland District Rugby League is struggling to find the $10,000 to $15,000 required for transportation and accommodation costs.
For an organisation that operates on about $40,000 a year, the extra expense to play in the South Island final is too big of a burden to take on, leaving the team in limbo.
In previous seasons the Rams have battled on the field. They lost all of their games last year, including a 92-6 thrashing by Canterbury.
An extra trip to play in a final was never considered a likely option but through their success the Rams added a significant expense on an organisation which already had little money to play with.
Southland District Rugby League president Nic Brady said he was still frantically trying to find a way to get the Rams to the South Island final but options were running out.
He had approached the Invercargill Licensing Trust but said the trust did not fund travel outside of the province.
Brady said he did not feel it was appropriate to ask the players to dig into their own pockets to come up with the thousands of dollars needed.
"They've done their job to get us (to the final) and it's obviously up to us to get them there," Brady said yesterday.
The idea of playing the final in Christchurch instead of Nelson, to help ease the travel burden on Southland, was mooted although the Tasman board decided it still wanted the game played at its home ground of Trafalgar Park.
Brady said it would have helped his organisation had the match been transferred to Christchurch but it was Tasman's right to play the final at home and he understood that board's stance.
With the final on Saturday time is fast running out for Southland.
Brady said they could try to postpone the game for a week to give them more time to come up with the money but he did not want that.
"We really want to try to push for it while the mojo is there rather than having a week off and killing the buzz," he said.
"We've got training tonight and if we haven't got any good news by then we will need to make a call.
"It's not just my decision, I need everyone to vote on this and make a decision on whether we need another week to come up with the money."
- The Southland Times