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CBS Canterbury Division 1
It is a challenging time for Division 1 Metro coaches: while they are fast coming to the crunch time of their seasons, many are unable to field their full panel of players due to the representative commitments on the part of their best.
Over-lapping seasons has been an ongoing concern for officials as well as coaches for a number of years, although it is still particularly frustrating for those club coaches who are losing a number of their starting line-up.
While on the one hand club coaches want to see their players develop and do well, on the other hand they want their best available for the big matches of the season.
“It’s a major concern for us as well as a large number of other top clubs,” Burnside coach Steve Ellis says. “As we understand it, our role is to help develop players to go on and play representative rugby. Yet at the exact time the clubs need their players they are being taken away.”
Steve says that his side has lost four of its players, although all have come from its much-vaunted pack. Meanwhile, High School Old Boys has lost nine of it side to Canterbury and other representative teams.
Steve says that his frustration is that in losing players to representative teams it does not provide any incentive to develop players and at the same time grow team spirit.
“I was speaking with (former Burnside All Black) Shayne Phillpott recently and he said that some of his best memories in rugby were in winning club championships with his mates at Burnside. The club game is important.”
Steve believes that club rugby fosters character and development and helps with experience.
“I feel that the mix that we currently have is wrong. I understand that it is about juggling objectives and I feel for the administrators, but I would like to see more recognition of the clubs’ role in developing players.”
Metro chairman Murray Withers says that the issue is a major problem for administrators and one that “has to be resolved”. He says that the New Zealand Rugby Union has a designated club window, but that it means that club competitions are meant to finish by the end of July.
“Clearly that’s not what the clubs want,” he says. Murray says that one solution might be to start the provincial competitions later.
Regardless of any solution found, coaches and administrators alike say that they want rugby fans to be able to watch the province’s best players in action as much as possible whether it is for club or province.
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