The 2023 premier club season was a challenging one for Gladstone, but the club is determined to turn around its fortunes and continue its proud history, starting with a meeting tomorrow night.
One of the dominant forces in Wairarapa-Bush premier club for more than two decades, having won five championships between 2001 and 2018, Gladstone fell on hard times this season, regularly struggling to field a team and winning only two games, one over East Coast in the seventh-eighth playoff in the Lane Penn Cup, and the other over Eketāhuna in the Moose Kapene Cup.
President Andrew McKay admits this season was tough, with the premier team often only having one or two substitutes and having to get players from the senior reserves team to help out, despite them having already played a full game.
“It was a credit to the players who played 80 minutes week in and week out without giving up,” McKay said.
“The reserves team had better numbers but also struggled for numbers with sickness and injury.”
Despite the challenges faced by the club over the season, McKay stressed that tomorrow night’s meeting is not a crisis one, and it’s about planning for the future.
“We are being proactive about getting organised for next season and making plans to overcome the challenges we faced last year.
“We want people to come along and listen and give any ideas they have without fear of automatically being given a job on the committee or hit up for sponsorship.”
What the community wants from its rugby club going into the future, options and ideas for the recruitment of players, and bringing fresh ideas and new people into the running of the club are likely discussion points for the meeting.
McKay urged all people involved with the club, past and present players, supporters, JAB [junior] parents, sponsors, the Gladstone community, and anyone else who has an interest in rugby at Gladstone to come along because the club wants to garner as many new ideas and discussions as possible.
He added that although player input is important, the meeting is not about seeing who turns up and wants to play, saying the club has already had discussions with the current players about their plans for next year and is working on finalising the coaching positions.
“We have a few spots to fill in coaching and management roles but are in talks with last year’s teams and are looking forward to working with them again.”
Tomorrow’s meeting starts at 7pm at the Gladstone Complex.