Historic merger brings season back from brink
THE clubs freely admit their history has not always been sunshine and rainbows, so merging their clubs for one season is a historic moment.
It was confirmed this morning the Coffs Harbour Snappers and SCU Marlins will officially combine to field sides in the 2020 New England Rugby Union competition.
A shocked Snappers president, Matt Quirk, said they had been given the go ahead after NERU clubs voted to allow the joint venture for the upcoming season.
It has been a whirlwind week for the two clubs who were knocked back from playing in both the Far North Coast Rugby Union competition and NERU - as separate entities.
Just 24 hours earlier both Quirk and Marlins first grade captain AJ Gilbert seemed resigned to having to play a tri-series between the two Coffs sides in place of a full competition.
The idea to enter NERU as a joint venture was their last-ditch effort.
"It was bit of shock, we didn't expect it," he said.
"We didn't think it was going to happen but all the clubs up there have been really supportive and right behind it."
Their inclusion will mean away trips as far as Tamworth, Walcha and Armidale and while there still a lot of details to "thrash out" - including picking the sides to face Glen Inness in less than two weeks - Quirk was happy with the outcome.
"The good news is we have some boys on the park playing footy which is what we wanted in the first place.
A statement put out by NERU this morning confirmed the expansion and they envisaged the Coffs Harbour side would field teams in first, second and possibly third grade.
NERU president David Clifton said the clubs participating in the competition had made the decision to welcome the new side for 2020.
"With the current pandemic affecting both Mid North Coast and Central North Rugby Union competitions, it is pleasing for New England Rugby to be able to facilitate more rugby for those looking to play the game," he said.
The two sides had been fighting tooth and nail to keep their season alive after they were left as the last senior men's clubs standing in the Mid North Coast Rugby Union competition this year.
MNCRU director Paul Butcher, said they were "ecstatic" to be able to field a combined side.
"It is a great thing for MNCRU players to be able to join with players from both New England and Central North clubs and get guys playing rugby again this year," he said.