Premier rugby will return to Jeans St in 2020. PHOTO/FILE

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

“There’s a hell of a lot of work to do.”

That’s the word from Pioneer Rugby Club president Richard Dahlberg, after the club was granted premier status for the 2020 Wairarapa-Bush club season.

Pioneer’s return to the top division after a two-year absence was confirmed at a Council of Clubs’ meeting on Wednesday night.

Pioneer withdrew from the premier competition before the start of the 2018 season and were replaced by Masterton Red Star.

They went on to win the Senior Reserve Championship, earning the right to play Masterton Red Star in a promotion-relegation game.

Pioneer won that game but were stripped of the victory for fielding ineligible players.

Dahlberg said on Thursday the response to their return so far had been 100 per cent positive.

He was looking forward to the return of his beloved red and blues to the top division after a two-year absence.

“We’ve been trying to get in all this season, and this is absolutely vital for our community.

“We need a pathway for the kids, and we’ve got a lot of younger players coming through.

“We had 56 registered players in our senior reserve team and although there were a few older players, a lot of young fellas played, and we need something for them to strive for.”

Many of Pioneer’s premier players from 2017 joined other clubs and Dahlberg said a lot of those clubs feared that they would lose some of those players.

“We won’t be banking on everyone coming home. We’ll be looking to bring through our young players.”

Before recruiting players, Dahlberg said appointing the right coach would be imperative.

“We’ll call for nominations and go through a proper process.

“We’ll set up a panel to interview candidates and make a recommendation from there.”

Dahlberg stressed the importance of getting it right.

“We’ve learned from our mistakes. There were a lot of problems but through natural attrition some people have moved on and a whole new generation are getting involved with the club.

“It’s a great opportunity. Nicole James-Boyce [Wai-Bush Junior Administrator of the Year] has done a fantastic job with the JAB keeping the kids on their toes, and in the next year or two they’ll be important to our top team.”