Tuhirangi [blue and white] have pulled out of the Wai-Bush senior reserve competition. PHOTO/FILE

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

For the first time in more than 40 years Wairarapa-Bush’s southernmost club won’t field a team in senior competitions.

Tuhirangi have withdrawn from the senior reserve championship because of the late start to the club season caused by the covid-19 lockdown.

“We start to struggle towards the end of a normal season with lambing and calving and the finish a month later has really made it difficult for us,” Tuhirangi’s Council of Clubs representative Scott Macdonald said.

“There are also a lot of boys under a bit of pressure, so we made an early decision.

“At the time we made the decision, a lot of the requirements around cleaning and that would’ve been too much for a small club like ours.”

Macdonald said the decision was for this season only and the club would be back in the senior reserve competition in 2021.

“There’s still an awesome feeling in the club, the JAB is still strong, and we’ll have those teams playing, and the netball girls are back into it.”

Tuhirangi have a proud record in senior reserve, having played in three of the past four finals, last winning the Ryan Cup in 2016.

Future All Black Andy Earl wore the club colours in the late 1970s earning selection in the Wairarapa-Bush team as a 17-year-old.

Ross Cooper, who went on to become a Chiefs Super Rugby coach and an All Black selector, was a bustling loose forward for Tuhirangi.

Whana Flutey, the father of England international back Riki and Hawke’s Bay first-five Mano, was another to grace the club’s sky blue and white jersey.

Wai-Bush Union chief executive officer Tony Hargood said the union and the Council of Clubs respected Tuhirangi’s decision.

“We all know they have such a wonderful community down south; we are sure they will be back in 2021,” he said.

“We just have to accept with the later start to the club season because of covid-19, being a rural-based club, they needed to make their decision on what was best for players.

“For me, and a whole lot of other rugby people, the trip to Pirinoa is always a highlight of each season, and Tuhirangi will be sorely missed,” Hargood said.

The 11-team senior reserve competition will kick off on July 4, with the finals to be played on August 22, a week before the premier finals.