A Masterton Red Star player [red] in club action last year. PHOTO/FILE

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Thirteen months after pulling their team from the Wairarapa-Bush premier competition, Masterton Red Star won’t have a team in this season’s senior reserve competition.

President Barry Todd confirmed the club decided on Monday night to withdraw the team citing a lack of numbers.

“[Coach] Nick Hutton tried really hard to get the players, but in the end, there weren’t the numbers to field a team,” he said.

“A lot of our players from last year have gone to Pioneer and other clubs. There’s no loyalty anymore.”

Todd said the decision was no good for anybody, but the club would be working hard to get a team back on the field in 2021.

“We have to rebuild, and we will put some plans in place. We’re financially sound, and we have a very good ground. We have a lot of proud ex-players who are keen to get involved with recruiting players.”

The withdrawal comes after a chequered two seasons for Masterton Red Star.

The late withdrawal of Pioneer only a few weeks before the start of the 2018 season opened the door for Masterton Red Star to return to the premier grade for the first time in several seasons.

But the loss of several key players from the previous year had them struggling and they went winless throughout the season.

That included a loss to Pioneer in a promotion-relegation match, which was later overturned due to Pioneer fielding ineligible players.

Last season, Masterton Red Star club withdrew from the Tui Cup premier club rugby championship after eight rounds, after a series of heavy defeats, and growing frustration among coaches and players.

Hutton was appointed coach in late 2019 and the club set in place a three-year plan to return to the top division.

This latest decision was met with disappointment at the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union.

Chief executive officer Tony Hargood said they would work with Masterton Red Star to get adult team[s] back on the field.

“Asset wise and structurally they are very strong, and they’ve still got a very strong JAB.

“Covid-19 has been tough on some clubs, and we’ve seen that with Tuhirangi also pulling out of the senior reserves,” he said.

The senior reserve championship will now comprise 10 teams, removing the bye from the draw.

Masterton Red Star will field only junior teams during the 2020 season.