Cup row kicked into touch

By Jared Smith,

The fate of Wanganui rugby's prized cross-grade trophy will not be known until after the competition has started.

At a lively and occasionally contentious Council of Clubs meeting on Tuesday night, the previous December vote to allow all club teams competing in the Weekes Cup grades to be eligible for points accumulation was under the microscope.

A conclusion secured by a 5-2 vote was that not enough information was available to the club delegates who voted on Wanganui Marist's motion for all teams in the senior and premier grades, namely their three squads, to be in contention.

Taking Marist head-on was Ruapehu Rugby and Sports Club, who have issued an ultimatum they will not contest the cup if the rule stands, citing a Marist bias.

So while the rule still stands, it has been decided all the clubs will discuss it in-committee before returning for a final vote at the May meeting of the council in Hunterville.

"After considerable discussion, it was decided to hand it back to the clubs to discuss it," said John Phillips, club liaison officer for the WRFU.

"The feeling was [the December vote] came on the spur of the moment in general business.

"They have till May to come back with any recommendations."

At that time, the contentious rule change could be rescinded, left untouched, or changed completely.

"The whole structure's being looked at by the clubs, the qualifying structure," said Phillips.

The big issue with that is by May, the Wanganui rugby season will have already kicked off which has left Ruapehu and Marist unsatisfied.

Neither side is backing down from their stance, with Marist club secretary Clark Allan saying Ruapehu was trying to change things to suit them.

"We just think they're just being narrow-minded."

He said Ruapehu president Bruce Cranston told them they were just trying to find a way to get cups. "How do you get past people like that?

"You can't change it once the season's started, surely.

"They've voted for it already, they can't change it now that's our club's opinion."

However, Cranston said the matter was "just business", but the review was necessary.

"Marist were the only club, prior to Ruapehu, that had discussed it at a committee level [before the December meeting].

"When you get an agenda up and it's on there, you're ambushed.

"We will stand with our ultimatum if it's not changed, our points won't be eligible.

"But it's not resolved prior to the competition starting that's the most disappointing factor."

In other more friendly events at Tuesday's meeting, Wanganui Heartland Championship manager Chris Back presented a well-received representative format for 2013.

One noteworthy factor is there are no early season representative games.

The 2012 Wanganui squad, along with a few more prospects, will have early season skills sessions in April-May, being held in Ohakune, Taihape and Wanganui. It is proposed to hold a trial game between Metro and Northern teams on Queen's Birthday Monday, June 3. A wider training squad will be named the next day for six fitness training sessions in Wanganui throughout June-July.

The final Heartland Championship squad will be named straight after club finals day on August 10. They will go into a three-day camp, August 16-18, at Waiouru Military Camp, and play a game against New Zealand Army on Saturday, August 17.

Their Heartland campaign will open at home against King Country on August 24.

In other news, Haig Elgar provided a referee's report calling for all clubs to provide one new official each to swell the ranks of the refs.

Marty McGrath of Ruapehu was appointed as the fourth member of the Council of Clubs on the Wanganui Rugby Football Union board.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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