Combined First XV pulls out of competition

Mid Canterbury Combined (MCC) First XV against Lincoln: Selwyn Schools Combined First XV in the inaugural Pack the Park game last year at Ashburton College.

The Mid Canterbury Combined schools First XV will not compete this year in the Miles Toyota Cup competition.

The Combined Under 18 team had a pre-season game victory against Dunsandel-South Bridge last week but due to a limited number of eligible players management has opted to use this year as a rebuilding phase, and focus on the Mid Canterbury competition instead.

A squad of 35 would have been ideal.

Supporters spokesman Brett Hobbs said there had been a core group of around 12 boys training over summer under the guidance of Geoff Chapman, and “some impressive individual milestones made”.

The training resulted in the pre-season win 24-19 against Dunsandel- South Bridge Combined U18, but it was not enough.

“We knew years ago that this year was going to be a battle to field a team in 2022. All involved … have tried our hardest to provide the resources to compete with the “big boys” schools,” he said.

The decision to withdraw the combined schools team out of the Miles Toyota Cup was not made because of a lack of enthusiasm or resources but on the availability of capable kids able to play, he said.

The Mid Canterbury side had around 12 players capable of taking the field in the First XV Miles Toyota Cup, and eight U16 aged players, but they were considered too young for U18 grade, Mr Hobbs said.

“One of the reasons we failed to field a team is that we are a victim of our district’s success, as there are possibly 18-20 U18 boys that have left schools and taken up various roles working – most doing good quality apprenticeships, so hardly something to complain about.”

Mid Canterbury Combined (MCC) First XV ahead of their inaugural Pack the Park game last year.

“We felt that it would be irresponsible to try and field a team that was too young and with the affect that covid has had on sport there would be too much pressure on kids to return to sport without knowing the affect this could have on them long term.”

The Miles Toyota Cup competition is set for a revamp in 2023 and the Mid Canterbury team management had been assured it would not be penalised by not fielding a team this year, he said.

“It means we should have our first XV players competing within their right age group through the year in the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union competition.

“We are hoping that as a district we should have three very capable U16 teams and one very capable U18 team.”

He said a preseason trip to Hanmer Springs to play shortened games against Waimea, Selwyn and Roncalli Combined Schools in a day event would still go ahead, as would a three-day pre-season tournament in Oamaru.