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Thames Valley Junior Rugby could be played in two divisions this year after a spate of road closures. Photo: SUPPLIED

Junior rugby split to be considered

Thames Valley Junior Rugby is considering holding its 2023 season in two separate divisions to tackle travel issues from ongoing road closures.
This includes the long-term closure of the Kōpū-Hikuai Rd on State Highway 25A after a large section collapsed due to a significant slip on January 28.
Chairman Gavin Flint told The Profile he believed a move to split the competition into eastern and western Thames Valley divisions would make junior rugby easier for both parents and kids.
“With rugby right through to senior level, there’s a lot of travel all over the Thames Valley… and with our main route the Kōpū-Hikuai being out of action, we’ve got to try and make it a bit more user friendly for parents and for the younger kids,” he said.
“If you asked them to travel two hours to play 40 to 50 minutes of rugby and then have to turn around and come back again, it’s a big ask on the kids, it’s a big ask on the parents, and petrol isn’t cheap so we’ve got to look at all the options.
“We don’t want kids quitting, we want to build on last year’s numbers and keep growing, and this year we’re hoping to have an all-girls competition parallel with the boys.”

Gavin said under the proposed system, the first round of junior rugby, which kicks off in late April, would be held with teams facing teams on the same side of the Coromandel Range before a decision was made whether to merge the two.
“Hopefully each conference will have a similar number of teams on each side in each grade… and they’ll probably play a round and then we’ll see what the roading situation is,” he said.
“If we can get through the Kōpū-Hikuai Rd, we might merge together and have a competition against each other, a lot of it depends on where the Kōpū-Hikuai Rd stands and the likes of the 309 Rd and the Tapu-Coroglen Rd.”
Gavin said the union would discuss the proposal with the Thames Valley clubs that host junior teams.
“It’s an idea to try and get clubs talking about it so we’re all prepared and parents know they’re able to do something,” he said.
“[Waihī Athletic Rugby Club] has the most kids and the most amount of teams so they could go either way to east or west but that’s a club council matter.”