Should the midlands region have a combined club?

2009-09-08 00:00

BIG decisions that could change the face of Pietermaritzburg and midlands club rugby are in the making right now.

A meeting was held last Wednesday that drew all the Midlands Rugby Sub-Union clubs to listen to basically one topic: should a combined team be formed to give the region the best chance of being competitive against the best Durban has to offer.

MRSU president Piet Herbst was at pains to point out to The Witness yesterday that clubs were not being asked to fold, but to offer their best players to the combined team in order for that team to be competitive against the Durban sides.

Club chairmen were asked to take the mandate back to their players for a decision to be made. Should the players agree, this could mean the end of 106-year-old Maritzburg Collegians and 99-year-old PMB Varsity as forces to be reckoned with in KZN club rugby — and bring down the curtain on institutions that have played a not insignificant role in the social fabric of the KZN capital city over the past century.

There is no do doubt that PMB club rugby has been struggling to keep up with the developments taking place in Durban over the past 20 years at least.

The advent of professionalism and the Sharks brand as possibly the most attractive in world rugby has resulted in a horde of the very best young players streaming to Durban from all parts of the country in search of fame and fortune. Truly, very few make it big, but the fact remains that the flood to KZN rugby’s bay of plenty leaves very little behind in the less glamorous parts of the province.

Two decades ago there was a carload, at least, of PMB players travelling to Durban every day for Natal practices; indeed, 25 years ago even Northern Natal produced a competitive team just below Currie Cup level.

That’s all changed, none more so than in the KZN capital. Now, the once-proud PMB Varsity are floundering at Premier Division level; even a revitalised PMB Collegians are finding it nigh-impossible to make the step-up from First Division.

The Collegians and Varsity chairmen, Tony Day and Raymond Easthorpe, are not happy. Day said it would mean the end of Collegians, while Easthorpe, on behalf of Varsity, has reportedly asked for the U20A Division status the campus-based club loaned to the Midlands U20 A team to be revoked.

Collegians are having their AGM 5.30 for 6 pm Wednesday to decide whether they want the combined team or not. Club chairmen are to report back to the MRSU by September 18.

Ultimately, it’s a decision the current players must make, as they are the ones putting their bodies on the line every week.

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