Despite the gruelling winter and heavy defeats the Wauchope Thunder encountered in the Upper Mid North Coast rugby union competition last season and now declining club numbers, the Thunder will not be rejoining the Lower MNC competition.
MNC Zone chief executive, Bob Wilson, was adamant on the subject when asked if Wauchope could become the sixth club in this season’s Lower MNC competition, so eliminating the bye round and wasted weekend caused by the Myall Mud Crabs’ withdrawal for the year.
“We are not changing the draws again,” Mr Wilson said following the Wauchope reserve grade team and under 14s withdrawals from this season’s competitions. “So much time has been spent and wasted on this already.
“Wauchope will remain in the Upper MNC and their under 16 team will continue playing with their Seniors and women’s sevens teams. It would be a backward step for Wauchope to return to the Lower MNC.
“Most clubs, and in particular Southern Cross University, have been through this and they all have junior teams now. The best thing the zone has done was to support this program and to include them in the club championship.
“The junior Friday night competition from under sixes through to the under 12’s in Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour is going well. Many years ago they started with approx. 20 players. Now they have over 200 players in each town.
“This should have been done in the Lower MNC years ago and there would have been junior teams down there now. There are plans for a Junior competition in the Lower MNC to start in 2019. Let us hope so.”
A feature of tomorrow’s second round Kennards Hire premiership in the Lower MNC competition is the clash of last season’s premiers, the Wallamba Bulls, with the Gloucester Cockies in Gloucester.
The Cockies will meet the Bulls in buoyant mood after their bonus point defeat of the Manning River Ratz last weekend with Chris Marchant and Jamie Andrews back in their ranks whereas the Bulls have yet to play the first game in their title defence.
Wallamba are red hot favourites for the men’s competition with strong numbers in the ranks of both their men’s and women’s teams while it appears Gloucester have had a welcome club resurgence under new president, Tim Threadgate.
Manning River will be striving to redeem themselves when they travel to Old Bar to play the Clams while the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins have the bye.