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Hargood: Getting clubs back in action a priority

Tony Hargood. PHOTO/FILE

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

A severely truncated club and representative season is likely when the covid-19 pandemic ends, but getting the clubs up and running again will be the priority for the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union.

Chief executive officer Tony Hargood outlined several scenarios during a video conference with club and JAB [junior rugby] delegates on Thursday.

“The clubs are being really supportive and there’s been very good communication,” he said.

The eight-team Wai-Bush premier club competition had been scheduled to start on Friday, April 3 with a night-time clash between defending champions Martinborough and beaten finalists Gladstone at Trust House Memorial Park, with the rest of the first round games to be played on the following day.

However, that was put on hold on March 17 when New Zealand Rugby postponed all club and community rugby until April 18, and then suspended all rugby for the foreseeable future last Monday.

“There’s an indication of four to eight weeks and hopefully we can have rugby up and running, but that’s of course subject to New Zealand Rugby and government directives,” Hargood said.

“Once we get the all-clear to play, it will be a gradual process. The clubs will need a couple of weeks to get organised,” he said.

“But whenever it happens, it will be a very much modified competition at all levels.

“We have presented the clubs with some different scenarios.”

The Wai-Bush Rugby Union will also look at what financial and social support they can provide to clubs once rugby is up and running again.

Club rugby is not the only area of the game likely to take a hit.

Hargood has been in regular contact with NZR and other Heartland union bosses. The changes at club level could result in the Heartland Championship being altered.

“Unlike Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup, Heartland is quite low cost, and it could be a truncated season.

“It could possibly be down to friendlies for this season only, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Hargood was optimistic that the Wai-Bush Union will get through the crisis okay.

“I’m feeling positive that we’ll come out of it at the back end relatively unscathed and possibly quite a bit stronger.”

To keep rugby fans connected with the game, the Wai-Bush Union has been running a series of photo competitions on their website.

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