Lack of numbers forces hand
The Central Otago premier rugby competition has suffered its first casualty before the season has even commenced, with Roxburgh pulling its team out.
Roxburgh Rugby Club president Tony Stevens confirmed he had notified competition officials of the decision on Thursday.
‘‘We couldn’t get enough players,’’ he said. ‘‘The disappointing thing is, there’s a lot of jobs in the valley.’’
The club had recently been on a recruitment drive, offering accommodation and work to prospective players for the season.
Stevens said the club was already thinking about 2018.
The ‘‘five or six really keen guys’’ would look to play somewhere else, probably Lawrence or Alexandra, Stevens said.
‘‘It’s disappointing but we’ve just got to look forward.’’
Roxburgh’s undoing means the competition - set to start on March 18 - drops to eight teams. Those other teams are Alexandra, Arrowtown, Clyde Earnscleugh, Cromwell, Maniototo, Matakanui Combined, Wakatipu and Upper Clutha.
The Roxburgh club celebrated its 125th jubilee in 2013 with a return to the premier grade after four years in the B grade and a 10-year hiatus preceding that.
It won the B grade competition in 2012.
Cromwell won last year’s premier competition for the first time in 35 years.
Roxburgh (in blue) in a 2015 match against Alexandra.