The Coffs Harbour Snappers and SCU Marlins clash last year.
The Coffs Harbour Snappers and SCU Marlins clash last year.

Bold rugby plan fails to get across the line

TWO Mid-North Coast Rugby clubs have failed in their bid to have their senior sides play with their northern neighbours in 2020.

Coffs Harbour Snappers and SCU Marlins were informed of the decision last week after a vote of all Far North Coast Rugby Union clubs ended with just six clubs supporting their inclusion in the competition.

The clubs needed 75 per cent of the 17 FNCRU clubs to vote in favour.

Both sides have also missed out on inclusion in the New England Rugby Union competition.

Mid North Coast Rugby Union had given the plan their blessing when the Snappers and Marlins were left as the only clubs in the region willing to field a seniors rugby side in 2020.

Marlins first grade captain AJ Gilbert called the decision "shattering" after working hard to convince some FNCRU clubs to support their move north.

"We didn't quite get it across the line which was shattering for both ourselves and the Snappers," he said.

"It was disappointing but we had to keep on moving quickly to try for New England."

After the New England bid failed, the two clubs reapplied as one entity, in a bold strategy to ensure the eager rugby players of Coffs Harbour get a full season. A decision will be made by NERU tomorrow.

Coffs Harbour Snappers during their preliminary final last year against the Port Macquarie Pirates.
Coffs Harbour Snappers during their preliminary final last year against the Port Macquarie Pirates.

Gilbert said regardless of how their third attempt goes, the clubs will play what would have been their first round local derby as usual, and look at creating a tri-series between the senior sides.

"When we got knocked back, both clubs sat down and said at the very least let's just play this weekend like we were meant to do anyway," he said.

"We are going to have a full day of Coffs Harbour rugby with everyone there together - from 14's right through to first grade."

FNCRU administration officer Wayne Millane said while it was ultimately not the decision of the board, there were a number of contributing factors to the lack of support.

He said there were a lot of clubs feeling for their southern neighbours but the late notice and increased distances of travel proved to be the biggest issues.

"The cost and logistics were too much," he said.

"It wasn't a vote against them, it was just too late and there was the cost factor."

Coffs Harbour Snappers president Matt Quirk said the while it was a sad decision, the events of last few weeks had brought the two rival clubs together.

And they were excited about the beginning of the junior and women's rugby season, both of which will go ahead as planned.

"They are all really keen and with the women we have really good numbers - a lot of women have come from league tag and appear to be loving it," he said.

"I think the two clubs are closer together and in the past while there may have been division, now we are all headed in the same direction.

"We just want what's best for rugby."