Ex­cite­ment in Plim­mer­ton as top tier beck­ons

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By TOBY ROB­SON

Pare­mata Plim­mer­ton Rugby Foot­ball Club have a month to con­vince the pow­ers- that- be they have the play­ing depth to be part of an ex­panded Swin­dale Shield com­pe­ti­tion next sea­son.

It means busy and ner­vous times for clubs like Pare­mataPlim­mer­ton, Avalon, Western Sub­urbs and Johnsonville as they muster their re­sources.

The Wellington Rugby Foot­ball Union board have signed off on a com­pe­ti­tion for­mat that will re­quire clubs to field teams in a premier, premier re­serve and colts ( un­der- 21) grades next sea­son.

Ap­pli­ca­tions must be in by the end of Septem­ber with a fi­nal decision on the make up of the new com­pe­ti­tion to be an­nounced on De­cem­ber 1.

The ex­cit­ment is build­ing at Pare­mata Plim­mer­ton with the prospect of re­turn­ing to club rugby’s top tier.

‘‘We’ve been work­ing hard on it and things are look­ing pretty good,’’ club pres­i­dent Mike Barry said.

‘‘We feel that we are pretty well there with the cri­te­ria. We’ve had a good com­mit­tee and great com­mu­nity support.’’

Barry hopes Pare­mata Plim­mer­ton’s el­e­va­tion will stop lo­cal school leavers head­ing to neigh­bour­ing clubs and help them re­tain more of their 300-plus ju­niors.

‘‘At the mo­ment a lot of them will say, ‘why go to Pare Plim, they’re not in premier grade’.’’

What­ever hap­pens, it ap­pears Wellington’s clubs will need to con­sider length­en­ing the sea­son to cater for a 14, or pos­si­bly 15- team Swin­dale Shield fol­lowed by the eight­team Ju­bilee Cup.

For those clubs who do not make it into the new com­pe­ti­tion, Wellington Rugby have come up with a new grade to be known as first grade, and opened the colts ( un­der 21) grades to all clubs.

First grade will cater to premier teams not in­volved in the Swin­dale Shield as well as play­ers at the ma­jor clubs who do not make the premier or premier re­serves. First grade will re­place the ex­ist­ing se­nior 2 and se­nior 3 grades.

The new for­mat would al­low for the top premier re­serve teams to contest the Hard­ham Cup in the sec­ond round, but only if their premier side were not also in that grade.

The premier re­serve grade would play for the Harper Lock Shield in the first round be­fore split­ting into two di­vi­sions to contest the Ed Chaney Cup and HD Mor­gan Cup, while the first grade would sim­ply play two round robin com­pe­ti­tions.

The union hopes the re­vamp will ar­rest a fall in se­nior play­ing num­bers.

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