No merger plans

MID Mid North Coast Rugby Union clubs from the southern and northern competitions will play in a combined gala day at Port Macquarie's Stuart Park on Saturday.

However, zone chief executive Bob Wilson said this is not the precursor amalgamating the competitions.

"The zone's too big and clubs won't travel. We'll always have southern and northern competitions,'' he said.

"That's the way the way the clubs want it. We have a good competition down here and they have their competition up there.''

The zone split in two in 2008 when the Lower North Coast premiership was formed. Six clubs will contest the one grade competition this season.

Mr Wilson said the southern clubs will have another gala in April before the kick off of the competition-proper in May.

Matches will start at 9am on March 8, with the last away from 4.55pm.

Mr Wilson said this is a chance for the clubs to play some different opposition.

However, the Manning River Ratz will miss the gala, coach Danial Stone explaining that a number of players would be unavailable because of cricket semi-final commitments.

The gala will also mark Old Bar's return to rugby after the club withdrew from the southern competition last year. Old Bar will play Kempsey in their opening match.

Wallamba will take on Port Macquarie while southern champions Forster-Tuncurry meet Hastings Valley. Gloucester plays Southern Cross University while Myall Coast tackles Coffs Harbour.

Meanwhile as reported on Friday, the Ratz and Gloucester will tackle East Newcastle in a three-way trial to be played at Taree Rugby Park on Saturday, March 22 starting from 1pm.

Easts will bring a squad made up of second and third grade players.

The Ratz are currently on the lookout for more players. Training nights are Tuesday and Thursday at Taree Rugby Park.

Old Bar Clams are also looking for more players.

"We will be right,'' captain-coach Chad Lambert said.

"But we could do with about 10 more players. We're getting about 16 to training at the moment.'' Lambert, a breakaway, played with the Ratz last year.

He said the players on the books are a mixture of past players while there are also some newcomers.

The Clams are training at the Trad Complex until the end of daylight saving, then they'll switch to the Old Bar Reserve.

Old Bar will be playing home matches at the Trad Complex, sharing the facility with the Old Bar Barbarians Football Club.

Old Bar and Manning will meet in the opening round of the season-proper on Saturday, May 3.

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