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‘Town and Country’ the preseason?

Jill Penn presenting the Lane Penn Trophy to Tavita Isaac, captain of last year’s winners, Greytown. PHOTO/FILE

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Is the Lane Penn Trophy being given the respect it deserves?

The trophy awarded to the winners of the new ‘Town and Country’ series was introduced in 2021, initially as a precursor for the premier championship, because of the delay to the start of the season due to covid-19.

That resulted in a 10-week regular season, plus top four and bottom four playoffs, meaning 12 games for the finalists.

The original intention for the 2022 season was that the premier championship would revert to the traditional home and away round-robin of 14 games, with the ‘Town and Country’ played as part of the first round.

Separate points tables were to be kept, and the winners of the ‘Town’ group would play the winners of the ‘Country’ group for the Lane Penn Trophy in their second-round clash.

That was all good until the threat of a widespread covid-19 outbreak in the community forced the Wairarapa-Bush Council of Clubs to reconsider the season’s format and revert to the 2021 format, with the addition of two back-up Saturdays [May 7 and June 4] in case covid-19 prevented clubs fielding teams.

That scenario happened last weekend with three of the four games deferred, allegedly due to covid-19, but conveniently the same day as the start of the duck season, and with reports that some teams were simply struggling for numbers.

That is not surprising given that the two finalists, Carterton and East Coast, were already determined after two rounds, meaning there was nothing resting on the outcome of any of the third-round games.

So, are most of these games simply being treated as preseason warm-ups?

If that is the case, are those clubs doing justice to the trophy in honour of Penn, one of Wai-Bush’s rugby legends?

Penn’s son, Steve, said the trophy was exactly what his father would have wanted in his understated way, but would the humble Penn appreciate games played as anything other than a fully competitive outing?

One possible solution would have been to carry any points over to the championship proper.

It would have ensured that every game was played with something resting on it and no quarter given, and that is what Penn would have wanted.

Anyhow, on to today’s games.

Martinborough v East Coast
Martinborough 2.35pm [Matt Perry]

The Coasties are the form team having won both outings, while Martinborough have been on the end of a hiding to Gladstone and beaten Eketahuna.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: It’s hard to go past East Coast.

Greytown v Marist
Greytown, 2.35pm [Kaleb Rowlands]

Marist come in after a very good win over Pioneer, while Greytown were well beaten by fierce rivals Carterton.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Marist, but one can never discount Greytown on their home patch – there’s too much pride.

Gladstone v Eketahuna
Gladstone, 2.35pm [Alistair Payne]

The Duck Shooters Cup is on the line, ensuring a tough contest between the two country rivals.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: I would like to sit on the fence, but for the sake of picking a winner – Gladstone.

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