In with a chance . . . North Otago had a good training session on Tuesday in preparation for this weekend's important match against King Country. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

North Otago Rugby wants to help increase the district’s Covid-19 vaccine uptake.

The union has teamed up with the Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group and health providers to offer a pop-up vaccination clinic at tomorrow’s home game against King Country.

North Otago Rugby Union chief executive Colin Jackson said anyone who got vaccinated at the clinic — their first or second dose — would get free entry to the game and a free coffee from One Smart Coffee.

‘‘Really, it’s a no-brainer that everyone needs to get vaccinated — and if we can contribute and help and facilitate that, that’s good,’’ Jackson said.

Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group manager Hana Halalele said it was important to make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated.

Holding a clinic on a Saturday was a good way of reaching those who could not get to clinics during the week without taking time off work.

‘‘They can just go out, get vaccinated and sit and enjoy the game,’’ Halalele said

Tomorrow’s clinic starts at 1.15pm — before kick-off at 2.30pm — and would have a relaxed and fun atmosphere, she said.

‘‘It’s a really good opportunity for those heading out to the rugby, or something to lure them to the game,’’ she said.

‘‘A partnership with North Otago Rugby was just an idea that Colin suggested — and it will be nice to try and encourage people to head out there and support the team, as well as get vaccinated.’’

The walk-in clinic was being held in collaboration with Tumai Ora Whanau Services, WellSouth, Te Runanga o Moeraki, Waitaki District Health Services, and the Southern DHB.

‘‘It’s a whole community collaboration of everyone working together to try and increase the uptake — and just making it really easy.’’

Jackson hoped rugby fans would embrace the opportunity and turn out in force to support the Old Golds in what could be their last home game of the season.

The Old Golds were denied the opportunity to defend the Meads Cup after losing to Whanganui 45-12 on Saturday. The six-tries-to-two loss in the north dropped them to fifth in the Heartland Championship, with one round to play.

In this Covid-delayed season, the top two teams go straight to the Meads Cup final. That is guaranteed to be South Canterbury (35 points) and Thames Valley
(33), in a repeat of the 2018 final. Whanganui (25), Horowhenua-Kapiti (23), North Otago (20), Mid Canterbury (20) and Poverty Bay (19) are jostling for third-fourth (Lochore Cup final) and fifth-sixth positions.

North Otago is strongly favoured to beat winless King Country in Oamaru tomorrow, but it will also need Horowhenua-Kapiti to lose to Poverty Bay to make the Lochore Cup final.

King Country was the first team North Otago came up against this year, in a preseason clash for the new Maroon and Gold Cup. North Otago won 27-19.

While the scores had not always gone North Otago’s way this season, the side was playing exciting rugby and developing young talent, Jackson said.

‘‘It’s a group of young boys we’re developing to keep together for the future.

‘‘And all going well, we can finish with a win.’’