Rugby fans in Nelson and Tasman are continuing to throw their support behind the Tasman Makos if the number of petition forms arriving at The Nelson Mail is anything to go by.
The New Zealand Rugby Union is planning on cutting four teams from the 14-team Air New Zealand Cup competition at the end of the season, and have them play in a six-team division one with two teams promoted from the Heartland Championship.
It is widely tipped that the Tasman Makos will be one of the teams to get the chop.
The Nelson Mail and Marlborough Express believe it is vital the Makos are left in the top division for the good of rugby in the top of the South, and have launched a petition saying as much.
It will be handed to the NZRU before it makes a decision on next year's competition format.
More than 1000 signatures have been collected by The Nelson Mail, and many more are expected this week as workplaces and community groups return their forms. The petition forms need to be returned to any Nelson Mail office by Friday to ensure the NZRU is aware of the strength of feeling in the region.
Richmond automotive machinist Tony Phyn signed the petition in Trafalgar St yesterday, saying it was important the top of the south region was represented in the Air NZ Cup.
"I definitely prefer the grassroots game to the Super 14," he said. "It's a lot more real. Lots of younger guys know they can get somewhere as well."
A nationwide online petition, Save Our Teams, has collected nearly 6000 signatures from an online form and at various matches around New Zealand.
Supporters from Tasman are the best represented signatories on the online version, with 529 signing up to yesterday.
- The Nelson Mail
What did you make of this year's ITM Cup?