While the NPC competition draws for 2020 have been announced, the Wanganui Rugby Football Union is still scrambling to get a completed Premier and Senior club draw confirmed after late withdrawals from both grades.
Wanganui Pirates RFC have confirmed they will field one team in the Senior competition – dropping out of Premier with their championship wins of 2014-15 and last grand final appearance in 2018 now a distant memory.
Without the bolstering of imports, the wider club struggled for numbers last year, as their Senior team folded after the first round of the competition, with the handful of still-committed players then joining the remaining Premier side as they were relegated to the middle Division 2 grade – finishing runnersup there to Ngamatapouri RFC.
Pirates joining Ratana in also dropping down to Senior leaves Premier with just a tight six-team grade – 2019 champions Taihape, runnersup Border, Ruapehu, Kaierau, Marist and Ngamatapouri.
In addition, WRFU club development officer Paul Kenny said he had almost completed a new draw, but then news came through that Counties RFC were reverting back to being a one-team Senior club.
In their 50th anniversary season last year, the club created a Counties Brothers team to play in Division 3 while their top side moved into Division 2 for the second half of the season.
It appeared last week that both squads would continue in 2020, but Kenny confirmed he was back to square one with Brothers withdrawal.
However, he said the change would allow him to go back to using an earlier draft of the Senior competition draw, where Ratana will slot into the Counties Brothers schedule.
This will also allow a confirmed start date for WRFU club rugby on Saturday, April 25.