The New Zealand Rugby Union’s decision to reject an application for North Otago to field a team in the Farah Palmer Cup is “short-sighted”, Colin Jackson says.
The North Otago Rugby Football Union chief executive believed a North Otago team would have been competitive in the second division of the national women’s competition.
North Otago had the support of the South Canterbury Rugby Union, which does not have a women’s team, and could have provided players, Jackson said.
“[The New Zealand Rugby Union] didn’t believe we have enough players, but does Taranaki, does North Harbour?” he said.
“It’s been a real blow to us that New Zealand Rugby didn’t believe in us.
“Where are the girls from Timaru going to go now?”
Women’s rugby will continue in the region with the Waitaki Wahine, which plays in the Dunedin women’s competition, and has finished third for the past five seasons.
But Jackson had hoped the exposure gained from playing at a higher level would have promoted the women’s game further in Waitaki.
“They could have played as a curtain-raiser to Heartland games,” he said.
“The girls are fantastic in their attitude.
“We have players travelling down [to Oamaru and Dunedin] from Kurow and Twizel for practices and games.”
Last year, the Waitaki Wahine played under the umbrella of the Athletic Marist Rugby Club.
This year, it will be a club in its own right.
The club’s acting co-president Georgina McCullough said the plan had been in the works for a while.
“It was the ultimate aim, because North Otago rugby was funding us, so this year we are going to try and do it with less and less support,” McCullough said.
“To be standalone means we can grow our own identity.”
Setting up a club from scratch came with some challenges, she said.
“It’s mostly just players on the committee, and it’s hard to get some of that experience in clubs and, you know, the workings of them.
“We do have a couple of people to do that, but obviously more experience would be nice.”
A coach is yet to be appointed.
This year, the players will hold after-match functions at the Northstar, but will look at the possibility of having a space of their own in the future, McCullough said.
The team is also looking for sponsorship and fundraising opportunities.