Tamworth Magpies Rugby Club align with New England Rugby Union

Tamworth Magpies Rugby Club president Mitchel Hanlon. Photo: Gareth Gardner
Tamworth Magpies Rugby Club president Mitchel Hanlon. Photo: Gareth Gardner

The Tamworth Magpies Rugby Club is no longer a member of the Central North zone after becoming a member of New England Rugby Union (NERU), according to a statement released on the Tamworth Magpies Rugby Club Facebook page.

The Magpies made an application to join NERU which was passed unanimously by NERU club delegates in Armidale today.

A statement released on the Tamworth Magpies Rugby Club Facebook page on behalf of president Mitchel Hanlon outlined the reasons why the club made the “emotional” decision to move zones.

FULL STATEMENT

BREAKING | We are now a member on the New England Rugby Union.

A statement from the president Mitch Mitchel Hanlon:

At a meeting of the clubs today in Armidale of the New England Rugby Union (NERU), an application by Tamworth Rugby club to join the NERU was passed unanimously by NERU club delegates. This means our club is no longer a member of Central North zone, a zone we have been a part of for 60 years since its foundation in 1958.

Our decision to join New England was not taken lightly. Moving from a zone we were instrumental in establishing is difficult and emotional but one we felt compelled to make.

The reasons for this decision are multi-fold:

1) Over the past decade, we've noted a drop in player participation rates within fellow Central North clubs. Last season, there were over 20 forfeits. Some clubs struggled to provide teams across all grades. Junior teams have not be fielded by many clubs for over a decade. As one of the few Central North clubs with a full 4-team complement, we have struggled to provide games to all players on a consistent "week-in week-out" basis. This was the motivation for proposing the motion in late 2017 for Central North to join forces with the New England zone. We wanted players to have consistent game time.

2) The majority of Central North clubs want the Option 2 draw. This draw has each team playing each other once only except for an additional "local derby" game. There is no second round so if there is an away game, their corresponding home game does not occur until the following year when the draw is reversed. This draw pitches small one/two team clubs against the larger clubs with the lower grade players missing out due to the lack of a third grade or even forfeiture of a second grade from the smaller club. One particular concern is the likelihood that team(s) will be required to play at different venues and at different times to the majority of their club. Whilst we recognise this may be necessary so as to support rugby in the smaller centres, we felt the draft draws presented to date left much to be desired and were not in the best interests of our club. Our club was the only club in Central North not to vote for this option.

3). All of the New England clubs want the Option 5 draw. This was the position put to the Central North negotiating committee. Option 5 offers an east and west conference format whereby 7 teams in each conference would play each other twice and once against teams from the other conference . This allowed the larger clubs to be grouped together whilst still playing the smaller clubs. It also had a minor benefit of reducing travel time and cost. There would be rounds where the lower grades would not get games but these would be far less prevalent than Option 2. Option 5 was our club's preferred option.

3) There is a slight but unlikely chance that a draw suitable to both zones will be developed in time for this year's season kick-off. Both zones are adamant that their preferred option be considered. Hence the negotiations are at a stalemate and unlikely to be resolved this year. We would like to see an independent facilitator be engaged to investigate the concerns of both zones so that rugby can continue to prosper and grow.

4) The New England zone has a strong consideration of their lower grades. This spirit and ethos aligns closely with our values and mission to grow the game of rugby. They can supply consistent football for our lower grades and maintain a full card of rugby each weekend.

Should negotiations fail to reach a conclusion, and based on the evidence in front of us, our club has made the choice to play in a zone that offers consistent grade games for the majority of our player roster. That is the New England zone.

We hope to know the final results of continued inter-zone discussions within the fortnight. This will be posted when we know the final decision.

Yours in rugby,

Mitchel Hanlon

President

This story Tamworth Magpies Rugby Club align with New England Rugby Union first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.