Excitement in Plimmerton as top tier beckons
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.