Club rugby gets a shakeup

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Rugby Southland's Club Rugby Development Officer Bob Cullen believes that the new format for club rugby in Southland will boost the sport in the region. PHOTO: GIORDANO STOLLEY

SOUTHLAND’S club rugby scene is about to get a shot in the arm when this year’s season kicks off.

In a move that was club-driven, the format for this year’s premier contest has been changed and it is one Rugby Southland believes will benefit the sport in the region.

Rugby Southland’s club development officer Bob Cullen said this year there would be 12 teams in the Premier Division, made up of the six premier division teams from last season and the top six division one teams from last season.

There will be two pools of six that play each other once and the top three from each pool will then go on to contest the Walter Galbraith Shield, playing each other home and away.

The bottom three from the two pools will then play each other, home and away, to contest the Ack Soper Shield.

Cullen said that late last year the clubs had met in a bid to improve a format that many believed needed changing. The current format will see a “doubling of the pool of visible players playing at a top level”.

In the division 1 competition there will be eight teams contesting the Gerald Dermody Shield, with each team playing each other home and away.

In the division 2 competition there are expected to be as many as 13 teams in the fray with the naming of this competition still to be confirmed, but Cullen said the clubs needed to get their entries in before the deadline on Monday, February 18.

Cullen said “The brief given to all clubs through last year’s forums was to look at what is good for Southland Rugby and how to create a pathway for players to play in their own communities,” he said.

Rugby Southland believes this new format will be an exciting change to the Southland Club Rugby landscape giving 12 teams the opportunity to fight it out for the Galbraith Shield.

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