Top rugby team quits sea­son

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - SAMHEWAT

An Auck­land premier rugby team has pulled the pin on its en­tire Auck­land sea­son.

Te Pa­papa One­hunga rugby club’s de­ci­sion to call it quits comes just weeks af­ter it ap­pealed a sea­son-long ban re­ceived for field­ing an in­el­i­gi­ble player in 2016.

Te Pa­papa did not field a team in the first round of the sea­son on Satur­day and will not do so for the rest of the sea­son.

The move has thrown the com­pe­ti­tion a curve-ball as now every team in Pool A of Auck­land’s premier com­pe­ti­tion will get a bye week.

Te Pa­papa club chair­man Chris Skin­ner said a lack of num­bers had put the club in a po­si­tion where it would not be able to field a premier and re­serves side for the whole sea­son.

‘‘We can’t just seem to get them in at the mo­ment,’’ Skin­ner said.

‘‘It’s more than dis­ap­point­ing. It’s a big blow to many peo­ple in the club. You’ve just got to have the right en­vi­ron­ment and at the mo­ment we just don’t seem to have it.’’

It caps off a tu­mul­tuous 12 months for the club.

Te Pa­papa was handed a sea­son long ban at the start of 2017 af­ter an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary found they had fielded an in­el­i­gi­ble player in 2016.

They ap­pealed the ban and an in­de­pen­dent ap­peals com­mit­tee re­duced the ban mean­ing Te Pa­papa would lose just one round of points in 2017.

How­ever, the re­sult­ing fall­out from the con­tro­versy seemed to take its toll on the club.

‘‘The ju­di­ciary didn’t help us,’’ Skin­ner said.

‘‘Af­ter the de­ci­sion we had a few peo­ple leave - coaches, man­age­ment - and then the play­ers dis­ap­peared af­ter that and we just haven’t re­cov­ered.’’

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