Merger boosts Waipu rugby

By Cameron Leslie

Waipu are set to gain from the merging of Old Boys' and Marist rugby club after having been invited back into the Northland-wide Premier rugby competition for the 2013 season.

And, as a way of thanking the clubs for merging, they will take on Old Boys' Marist in the first round.

The reintroduction to the premier grade came by recommendation of Northland Rugby Union operations manager Greg Shipton.

"They [Waipu] got invited as of right [after winning the division two title in 2012]," said Shipton.

"They are a strong team. They've been a progressive club for a number of years, we're pretty happy with the way they've came back."

About three years ago Waipu dropped back to division two and have rebuilt their club from the community up.

Since being dropped, Waipu have adopted a "local players" policy which has resulted in an increase of supporters and sponsors.

"We've spent three years rebuilding and changing the culture in the club," said Waipu Rugby Squash Club president Robin Groom. "We know now when we see someone, at the club or playing, we know, and they know, they're here for the club.

"It's pretty cool. I'm picking a high percentage of both teams will be made up of guys who are currently playing or have played in the past for Waipu."

With Waipu boasting some talented young players, and support from the community and sponsors, the decision was made to accept the invitation.

"The decision was not an easy one to make given the knowledge of the hard work ahead," said Groom. "We've been there before though and it's worth it for the younger players."

Waipu will be one to look out for with former Otago and All Black halfback Dean Kenny joining the coaching team and local retiring player Nathan Jacoby as a co-coach alongside Kenny.

While Waipu has been abuzz since the invitation, Old Boys' and Marist have announced Mark Seymour will be directing the coaching teams. Official coaches are yet to be confirmed, but it is understood there will be a mixture of Old Boys' and Marist coaches. The amalgamated club will play in a white and green stripe with navy shorts.

The two teams, Waipu and Old Boys' Marist, have now begun pre-season training with both clubs confirming they have had strong turnouts.

Andrew Golightly, chairman of the Northland Rugby Union, said while the Old Boys' and Marist merger had slowed down over the Christmas period it would be back in full swing by next month.

"We [NRU] want to make their merger as smooth as possible," said Golightly. "It's still progressing, [and] we'll be working to pull it together as soon as possible for the good of all parties."

Shipton said Waipu's inclusion meant the southern end of the premier competition now had considerable strength with four teams from that region if Mid Western were counted.

- Northern Advocate

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