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Delayed kickoff to club rugby

A try is awarded to Greytown in last year’s clash with Pioneer. The two teams will meet in the opening round of premier club rugby. PHOTOS/FILE

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

The start of the Wairarapa-Bush club competitions has been delayed by three weeks, the season has been shortened, and two catch-up weekends have been included because of the potential impact of covid-19.

The premier and senior reserve competitions were originally scheduled to kick off this Saturday and were to be played using the traditional format of two full rounds of home and away games, culminating in finals in late July.

However, with the high possibility that covid-19 might impact the first few weeks of the competition, the Wai-Bush Council of Clubs have pushed back the season start to April 23 and reverted to the same format as last season.

That will have the eight teams split into two pools – ‘town’ and ‘country’ – with the top placed teams in each pool after three rounds to play off for the Lane Penn Trophy.

The teams will then play a full round of seven games, with the top four to progress to the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup semifinals.

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Wai-Bush executive officer Tony Hargood confirmed the changes as well as the introduction of two catch-up weekends

“What the Council of Clubs have done, which I think is very wise, is that they’ve built two reserve weekends in, so if there needs to be a catch up in either of the competitions they’ve got those reserve weekends,” said Hargood.

The first catch-up weekend is scheduled for May 14, if any town and country games are impacted, while the second is on Queen’s Birthday Weekend, which is usually a weekend off for club players

If the catch-up weekends are not required, the competitions will progress to the next round without interruption.

In the opening round, 2021 champions and Lane Penn Trophy holders Greytown kick off the defence of their title away to Pioneer, and runners-up Carterton are away to 2020 champions Marist in the town section.

Eketahuna are at home to East Coast, and Martinborough host Gladstone in the first week of action in the country section.

Former Black Fern Bex Mahoney on the attack for Wai-Bush against Whanganui last October. Women’s rugby is to get a big boost with the inclusion of a combined club side in the Manawatu competition.

Women’s rugby in the province is also to get a big boost, with Hargood confirming that Wai-Bush are entering a combined club team in the Manawatu competition.

The team is coached by Scott Collins, who guided a Wai-Bush representative team in two games at the end of the 2021 season.

The Manawatu competition runs from mid-April to June and the Wai-Bush team will play their home games on Trust House Memorial Park.

Another initiative being looked into by Wai-Bush is the possible introduction of an under 85kg grade, which has proved to be popular in other unions.

The added incentive for the weight restricted players is that the winners of the local club competition progress to the national play-offs, with the top two teams to meet in the final at Auckland’s Eden Park.

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