Rule change jeopardises Arrowtown’s chances of getting name on cup.
Arrowtown rugby fans are grumbling that the bar’s been lifted for their team’s bid to hold on to the White Horse Cup, the Ranfurly Shield of Central Otago rugby.
Any other year, Arrowtown’s last round-robin home game – against Cromwell this Saturday – would mark their final cup defence for the season.
Not this year – the rules have changed and the cup’s also up for grabs if the holder plays a competition semi-final and final at home, as top-of-the-table Arrowtown are likely to do.
That angers Richie Anderson, last year’s Arrowtown coach, because only the end-of-season holder’s name is engraved on the trophy and the club has never had their name on the cup in its 83-year history.
“I don’t particularly like that new rule,” Anderson says.
“The Ranfurly Shield [dating back to 1904] hasn’t done that – maybe we’re saying the White Horse Cup is more important than the Ranfurly Shield.
“If Arrowtown are good enough to win all the way through, it should be set in concrete that those will be the rules forever.
“I bet you two bob to a lump of goat shit it will be changed next year.”
Arrowtown coach Blair Wilce is less concerned: “The rules are the rules – if we want to win the competition, which we want to, we need to win those last two games anyway.”
His players are “very disappointed” at their first loss last Saturday – 20-10 against Upper Clutha in Wanaka – after 10 wins this season.
“We had a good win the week before and the boys were probably relishing that and just expected to turn up over there and win again.”
Although Cromwell are third-last on the table, Wilce is picking a tough battle this weekend. “We really struggled down there in the first round.
“They can make their season by lifting the White Horse Cup so they’ll certainly be fired up – especially after our loss, they’ll probably think they’ve got a chance.”
To avoid the colour clash that blighted their first-round game – both teams wear red – Arrowtown are borrowing the Central Otago rep team’s blue strip.
Second-placed Wakatipu – who convincingly beat Maniototo 17-7 at home last weekend – will travel to Omakau this Saturday to play Matakanui.
Battle of the Basin – Fans Eye View
Why it’s gotta be Arrowtown…
Andrew Dalziel says: Now they’ve had a loss, it will galvanise the team.
They weren’t too flash last week – Upper Clutha played very well – but now they’ve had a loss they won’t want to experience that feeling again.
We won in the forwards last year and we haven’t got the same grunt there this year, but playing at home for the White Horse Cup will bring the team home this Saturday.
My tip: Arrowtown by 11 points
Why it’s gotta be Wakatipu…
Bryan “BC” Douglas says: I think we’re good enough to beat Matakanui.
The backs have come a hell of a long way and that’s going to be our strength – I liked the way they backed up and passed last Saturday. We also have good forwards like Ben Blakely and Nick Cournane.
I must say I’m really looking forward to the Arrowtown game the week after.
My tip: Wakatipu by 5 points