Blow for Barbarians

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Ashburton Barbarian's Aaron Heke in action during last season's final. Photo Heather Mackenzie.
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After attaining second place in the Premier Reserve Canterbury Cup last year, Ashburton Barbarian Rugby League Club is out of the competition for the coming season.

Canterbury Rugby League (CRL) has introduced a rule, every Canterbury Cup premier reserve team has to be affiliated with a premier team. Following its proposal last year, it was opposed by Ashburton, but the majority of clubs supported it.

An eleventh-hour offer from another club on Friday failed to keep the Barbarians in the competition.

The club last week posted on its Facebook page it was ‘‘back to our roots’’ playing division one. ‘‘We are so disappointed that after how hard everyone has worked that we can’t be part of Canterbury Cup this year, but we aren’t going to let that stop us from playing the game we all love.’’

CRL chief executive Malcolm Humm said an option for the Barbarians had been to have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with another club. CRL had tried to get the Northern Bulldogs of Kaiapoi to commence discussions with the club late last year. This was unsuccessful as the Bulldogs believed they had the numbers to field two teams.

But on Friday the Bulldogs requested CRL contact the Barbarians to see if they would be interested in an MoU whereby the Bulldogs would play premiers and the Barbarians would play premier reserves. ‘‘This would have allowed Ashburton to play premier reserve football, something the club was aspiring to achieve,’’ Humm said.

The Barbarians declined the invitation on Sunday.

Barbarians president Kate Moses said the offer ‘‘this late in the piece’’ did not give enough time to consider the ins and outs, including concerns around a risk of losing players to the Bulldogs premier team and a potential increase in away games.

‘‘We felt without having proper discussions it could have a detrimental effect on our club and sponsorship.’’