Fri, Apr 26, 2024 9:47 AM

‘Grassroots’ rugby sides primed and ready


Peter Jones

Marlborough’s “grassroots” rugby competition kicks off on Saturday.

Six club teams will vie for the 2024 Motorworld Marlborough division two title, providing a platform for players not involved in the top-tier Tasman Trophy competition.

Renwick, Central, Awatere, Harlequins, Waitohi and Pelorus will do battle over 10 rounds, leading into semifinals and a final in mid-July.

Renwick, tagged the “Mud Dogs”, are the defending champions. They overcame Waitohi in Picton in a thrilling final last season and they are keen to repeat the dose.

Chairman Robert Harrison-Jones said, “the division two side are very keen to repeat their triumph of last season in what appears to be a lot stronger competition this season.

“We feel that [division two] is quickly heading towards becoming the premier competition in Marlborough,” he added.

Stalwart hooker Nick Dickson will be pulling the boots on again for the Mud Dogs, along with regulars Max Brydon, Kyle Marfell, Daniel Jones, Vincent Liardet-Smith, Hayden Howard, goal-kicking prop Ty Bampton and Jarrod Bryant.

Central, whose Tasman Trophy side are flying high, will also field a very competitive division two unit.

Under the reins of Nathan Gill and Wayne Young, the Blues reached the final in 2022 and the semis last season so will be hoping to go all the way in 2024.

They field a young, enthusiastic crew who play an exciting brand of rugby, many of their players having coming through the MBC system.

Despite having to pull out of the Tasman Trophy this year, Waitohi president Jimmy Giles says the club is in good heart and predicts that their division two side will be competitive.

“We have a really exciting group of young lads keen to do the club proud, combined with a few of the Premier boys who no longer wanted to play premier rugby, so it’s making for an exciting year”, he says.

“We have a few local ex-QCC boys returning, some old heads dropping down to help out the lads, as well as some talented players returning.”

Sally Blackwell, Awatere Rugby Club chairperson, said, “we are aiming for a solid season … we have a strong committee and a very supportive community out here.”

She said the club’s flagship side, who will operate under the coaching reins of club stalwarts Terry Renner, Sam Lunn and Rob Waikawa, were excited about the new season, adding that places in the proposed division two Town v Country match were an added incentive for the Tussocks.

Club captain Jimmy Ryan said, “The team is looking forward to the season with the bulk of the players back, led again by Wilson Meadowcroft. Shaun Harris, Ethan Bayly, Seymour Lambert and Brogan Matthews are all local country lads who will add experience and value to the team and club as a whole.”

Harlequins, who earlier this year unveiled a new club logo, are back in the division one ranks for the third consecutive year and will start the new season with optimism.

Quins’ coaches Lee Mason and Marty Mason say, “We have a really young team this year led by some old heads, but the pre-season has been enthusiastic with lots of club spirit and consistent numbers”.

The Havelock-based Pelorus club will be coached by former Super Rugby prop Sam Prattley, his uncle Andre Smith and Chris Cherry.

Players such as Nathan Wallace, Sam Thompson, Zac Thompson, Cedric Hiller, plus Jesse and Billy Eising, who formed the backbone of the 2023 side, are expected to return for a side determined to at least reach the semifinals this time around.

Marlborough App Logo
Marlborough App
Marlborough App is owned by Top South Media. a locally owned media company.