The Coffs Crushers and Breakers pairing has come to an end.
The Coffs Crushers and Breakers pairing has come to an end. Leigh Jensen

Coffs Rugby on the back foot

AN International Rugby Board law that states all teams must be able to field five front-rowers has forced Coffs Rugby to field only one first grade team in 2011.

Three years after boldly fielding two teams, Coffs Crushers and Coffs Breakers, in MNC Rugby’s top flight competition the club has disappointingly had its hand played for it.

As well as trying to recruit several new front rowers to alleviate the issue, the club sought compensation from the Australian Rugby Union for leniency on this law but the request was denied as Coffs Rugby expected.

“We had four first-grade and three reserve grade front rowers leave the club this year which put a real hole in our ranks,” Coffs Rugby president Richard Officer said.

“We have picked up some quality front rowers in the form of Nathan Wallace, from Ballina, and the return of Nick Joyce, plus several of last year’s under-19s that will come up to first grade, but even with those guys the club can only guarantee 15 starting front rowers each week between four teams.”

Officer added that the writing was on the wall last year regarding this situation but the efforts to solve the issue of not enough front-rowers have fallen short.

“Last season we were deducted points in several games where we could not nominate five front rowers and we did not want to see this happen again for the opposition and our club,” he said.

“The other problem is that, at times, all four teams were at different locations on the Mid North Coast and while we were lucky to fulfil our duties then, for this season it just won’t be possible.”

The concept of two first grade teams has brought Coffs Rugby along immensely with player, sponsor and supporter ranks being at an all-time high.

With this in mind the club is determined to return to having both the Crushers and Breakers back in first grade in 2012.

“The concept of two teams is not entirely gone and our aim is to always have two first grade teams in Coffs Harbour,” Officer said

“With University entering reserve grade and under-19s this season we are hoping that the success of having two first grades within the same club over the last few years at Coffs Rugby will spread across to them with both clubs eventually filling teams in all grades.”

In preparation for the start of the MNC Rugby 201`1 season, starting on Saturday, April 9, a Coffs Rugby team made up of both first and reserve grade players will be playing a trial match against SCU Marlins starting at 2pm at Bishop Druitt College.

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