So close ... South Canterbury players digest their loss to Thames Valley in Saturday's Meads Cup final in Timaru. PHOTO: CLIVE CALLOW

Barry Matthews might coach North Otago again. But he might coach South Canterbury again. Or he might just settle for the Union under-9s.

Matthews, the former Old Golds coach who has just wrapped four years in charge of South Canterbury, is in no hurry to declare what the future holds.

Understandably, he needs some time to digest the disappointment of Saturday’s shock 17-12 loss to Thames Valley in the final of the Meads Cup, a trophy that remains absent from the South Canterbury cabinet.

Gutted … South Canterbury coach Barry Matthews (left) talks to union chairman Ray Teahen after the shock loss. PHOTO: CLIVE CALLOW

“If you decide 48 hours after the game, you’re deciding on emotion,” Matthews told the Oamaru Mail

“I just want to take some time and talk to people.

“If it is the end, we’ve had a fantastic four years with two home semifinals and two home finals.

“We’ve got nothing to show for it, but I think we’ve left South Canterbury rugby in a far better state than when we took over. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.”

Matthews has a strong affinity to the unions on either side of the Waitaki River.

He played nearly 100 games for South Canterbury, and has done a fine job dragging the green-and-blacks back to the top table of the Heartland Championship.

But he lives and runs a large farming business in North Otago, he led the Old Golds to Meads Cup glory in 2010, and he has a son, Jake, who was a proud North Otago age group and Waitaki Boys’ High School First XV representative.

“I would consider coaching Union under-9s. I just love coaching rugby.

“If I don’t do South Canterbury again, maybe I’ll have a year off. And then I’ve got my 19-year-old son. He’s broken down right now but if he gets back playing, it would be nice to coach a team that he plays for.

“If the opportunity came up to coach North Otago again, I’d definitely look at it.

“I love South Canterbury and North Otago. Both provinces are very close to my heart.”

The form book suggested South Canterbury would romp to Meads Cup glory but the fairytale finish went to Thames Valley, a side that had never even made the Meads Cup playoffs before.

Matthews was devastated last year, when South Canterbury qualified top but crashed to a semifinal loss at home to Wanganui. This year’s failure still hurt but perhaps not as much.

“I was very, very disappointed. We thought we had the team to do it this year but sometimes it’s just not your day. Finals rugby is a funny beast.

“Thames Valley thoroughly deserved their win. Our boys gave their all, and played fairly well, but Thames Valley got momentum in the second half, and that can be huge.”

South Canterbury led 12-3 at halftime but Matthews thought the lead could have been greater against the fourth-seeded team.

When Thames Valley made it 12-10, he felt the mood change at Alpine Energy Stadium.

“They got self-belief and we got self-doubt, and after that Thames Valley was the better side.

“They had a lot of line pressure on defence, and we got drawn into a physical battle with them. We had planned to use our width, but we just froze a bit.

“There was a bit of bad luck there but you have to be pleased for Thames Valley. They deserved it, and they’re a great bunch of guys.”

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