Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Drovers in recess

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The Deniliquin Drovers Rugby Union Football Club has gone into recess.

In a statement shared over the weekend, club president Paul Marshall said a lack of player numbers meant the club could not field a team.

“This has been a very difficult decision for our club, though with our playing numbers still not having sufficient­ly recovered over the past two seasons, we were left with no option,” he said.

The Drovers have been competing in the Southern Inland Rugby Union League’s second grade, against teams from Hay, Wagga, Griffith, Albury and Tumut.

The club has made an agreement with Leeton Phantoms Rugby Union Football Club, so the Drovers’ core players can continue to compete in the SIRU.

Mr Marshall said player numbers were not confirmed, however he expects “about 10 to 12” Drovers players to join Leeton for 2022, pending formal approval from the SIRU.

“We know that you will be feeling a number of emotions over this decision having had discussion­s with some of you already, though the important message is that we are only in recess, and the club is not folding,” Mr Marshall said.

“We are financiall­y strong, have a committed committee and playing group, and none of us want our club to disappear,” he said.

Mr Marshall said some of Leeton’s home matches would be reschedule­d for play at Deniliquin to accommodat­e.

The SIRU updated the draw at midday yesterday, to change rounds nine and 18 — in which the Drovers were to play against the Phantoms — to a bye round for Leeton.

Round one is this Saturday, April 2. The Drovers were scheduled to meet the Hay Cutters at Rotary Park. Leeton will visit Wagga to battle with the CSU Reddies.

Mr Marshall said like many sporting clubs, the Drovers’ numbers had suffered due to COVID-19 restrictio­ns.

“Clubs as far away as Bendigo have actually reached out to us as recently as over the weekend, wanting to offer their club as* somewhere our players could play, because they’re also struggling to fill their team,” Mr Marshall said yesterday.

“Our goal is to rebuild this year, support our players who choose to play at Leeton, and come back stronger in 2023."

Mr Marshall said the committee is still finalising what those plans look like, particular­ly in terms of introducin­g new players to rugby union.

“The club has relied upon people (who already play rugby union) moving to the district to help field teams,” Mr Marshall said.

"We’re currently working on those plans, though our aim is to continue to operate and train as per normal with our players playing for Leeton.“

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