Maritzburg Collegians withdraw sides in protest at rugby union ruling

2009-08-11 00:00

THERE was drama and unhappiness in KZN club rugby towards the end of last week as Maritzburg Collegians and the KZN Rugby Union were at loggerheads.

It started with the KZNRU’s draw for the semi-finals of the various club knockout competitions.

The Collegians first team had qualified to play in the Junior Murray Cup semi-finals and the KZNRU’s draw meant they would have to travel to Vryheid to meet the home side. Fair enough.

At the same time, the Collegians second XV had qualified for a semi-final of their own — the Keith Parkinson Cup knockout semi-finals, and their opponents were to be Pongola firsts. And this is where the unhappiness begins.

The KZNRU decided that Collegians II must travel to Pongola for their semi-final. This decision placed both Collegians teams in a quandary, the reason being related to KZNRU’s own rules regarding front-rows.

The law states that First Division first teams must have a reserve front-row on the bench for matches, thus lessening the possibility of the unsavoury spectacle of uncontested scrums at this level of rugby.

Now, here comes the dilemma that Collegians faced.

Should the PMB Collegians chairman, Tony Day, and the experienced men among the club members decide to plump for the first team taking precedence, the second team would have to withdraw from their own semi-final. The reason? In senior rugby Collegians do not have three competitive front-rows at their disposal at this highly competitive level, with coveted KZN club rugby cups at stake. Within the confines of club rugby, genuine front-row forwards are like gold.

Therefore, who is going to withdraw? The answer is something the Collegians first and second team players were adamant about.

They had practised together all season on those bitterly cold nights down by the Dusi at Woodburn; the seconds’ front-row had always been there for the first team’s front-row, ready to replace their colleagues should they get injured during a match and be forced to come off the field.

So, the first team reasoned, why should the first team front-row now have to sacrifice their second team- mates’ chances of a piece of silverware — it would be the one and only time in their careers they might have the opportunity to get their hands on a KZN club rugby cup — for their own personal ambitions?

Day reasoned with the KZNRU — who are, after all, the custodians of the interests of club rugby players — that a compromise could be reached. Why not have Pongola travel to Vryheid, given the circumstances of Collegians being in two semi-finals — and then both matches could be played with the minimum of fuss?

Day and Collegians were met with a blank “No” in response; Collegians II would have to go to Pongola, finish and klaar.

Faced with this uncompromising response from the KZNRU, the Collegians firsts and seconds, to their great credit, withdrew in solidarity with one another — and good on them.

RESULTS: Murray Cup semi-finals: Rovers 18 Zululand 13; Old Boys 22 Durban Collegians 18. Reserves – Peter Taylor Cup semi-finals: Rovers 57 Zululand 7; Old Boys 22 Dbn Collegians 18. Findlay Cup (3rd division): Drakensberg I 33 Rovers III 26.

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