Canterbury pay the price
Canterbury have been booted out of the South Island provincial rugby league competition after a dramatic turn of events yesterday.
Canterbury were leading the competition points standings heading into this weekend's final round and had already done enough to cement a place in next weekend's South Island final whatever the outcome in the final round.
However, yesterday, Canterbury contacted Southland District Rugby League to say many injuries and unavailabilities meant they would not be travelling to Invercargill for the game.
With the South Island Scorpions team having injuries, Canterbury players had been required to step up to play this weekend in the national premiership championship.
They also said they had three players unavailable to play on Sundays for religious reasons.
NZRL Southern Zone general manager Steve Martin did not believe Canterbury's actions were in the spirit of the game and or the integrity of the competition.
Canterbury viewed it as a default and believed they still should remain in the competition, but Martin and other NZRL officials felt withdrawing them from the competition was the only option.
Martin acknowledged Canterbury did have their battles with injuries and some players unavailable to play on a Sunday but said with their large catchment area they should still have been able to front with a team.
"I'm sure there is a huge amount of validity in what happened but it's their responsibility as part of the competition that they've got coverage for that.
"Southland would have had to do the same, Tasman would have had to do the same, and they've got a smaller pool to call on."
Martin said it had been a disappointing turn of events.
"It's a shame because the competition has been so exciting in terms of the qualification for the final.
"However, I don't think we've lost that: in the scenarios all three teams who were in contention, Southland, Otago and Tasman, all have the chance to make the final depending on the result of the [Tasman-Otago] game this weekend."
Canterbury's axing means all results from games they were involved in this season have been scrapped. It also means the Southland Rams remain a good chance to play in the 2012 final.
Southland will hold an internal game this weekend instead to ensure their players kept active. College games would be played at Elles Rd as well.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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