By GREG WHITE
COFFS Rugby administrator and coach Des Hoy is usually a pretty moderate man, but the latest jibe at his organisation has his blood pressure rising.
Down Taree way, Manning River Ratz president Garry Smith has been calling for the expulsion of Coffs club from the Mid North Coast zone.
With Coffs undefeated for three seasons and wins in all three premierships this year, Smith feels this domination is bad for the code.
Smith is quoted in a southern newspaper saying the zone should run from Kempsey to Forster once Dorrigo and Coffs had been sent packing.
"Obviously, it's difficult for me to make a comment on the record, due to my position," Hoy said.
That's unfortunate, but what can he say?
"Garry's views are so negative," he replied.
"Coffs have set a standard that in the true spirit of rugby, sensible people should aspire to.
"There's no future in stumbling around without trying to improve yourself."
Hoy is particularly annoyed by finger-pointing at Coffs' unbeaten status.
"Don't they realise for all those years we've been forced to rebuild, often from scratch?
"Modern rugby stems from the performance of your front row.
"We lost a country prop in David Hales and it was sheer fluke country hooker Matt Hoy replaced him.
"Go back a year and we were forced to remodel the entire back line when Todd Nardi left town and Mark Pledger and Asapelli Prescott switched to league.
With Hoy feeling hamstrung by what he could say, the Coffs Coast Advocate posed some questions.
Is the latest outburst from the Manning just a smokescreen to cover up lack of success?
"No comment," Hoy answered.
Is travelling from Taree to Coffs Harbour such a big problem?
"Driving the highway is the same distance in either direction so we do the same mileage."
Does Coffs have an advantage in population size?
"Maybe," Hoy replied, "but it comes down to attitude.
"Look at the league, where the little town of Macksville, population 5000, has spent the last four years knocking off teams from areas ten times bigger."
Are weaker teams, as they claim, being forced to play in grades above their capability?
"No one forces you to play first grade if you only have reserve grade standard players.
"But, what's wrong with the zone encouraging you to raise your standards and then offering a place when you say you can reach that level?
"Take the case of Old Bar.
"They soon found first grade was beyond them and instead of letting them get smashed, the zone was rational, letting them drop back a grade, mid season.
"What could be fairer than that?"
With the 2006 season still some months away, Hoy believes there is already evidence Coffs Rugby will need to rebuild to keep their unbeaten record intact.
"Nick Joyce is off overseas and Brendan, my son, has retired," he noted.
"Will somebody like Connor Barrett or a few of the others go around again?"
"Nobody yet knows the answers to those questions."
Hoy believes that in rugby, like any sport, the wheel of who is on top turns full circle.
You can be on the bottom today, but do the hard yards and you rise to the occasion.
"Not long ago the Coffs Harlequins were doing it tough and coach Ken Alderman couldn't buy a win.
"Nobody from out of town had sympathy for them when that happened."