Queenstown will now have only one annual touch rugby tournament after three years with two rival competitions.
The Wakatipu Rugby Club – which last year ran the seven-a-side competition started by Queenstowner Grant Murphy 18 years ago – has decided to let Touch Southland run the resort’s only tournament.
That kicks off next Tuesday.
Touch Southland ruffled feathers when it launched a rival six-a-side tournament at the Events Centre three years ago.
Touch Southland boss Warren Bryant says he only came in as he thought Murphy, who’d been overseas, had pulled the plug on his own competition.
However Murphy did return and successfully ran his 2008 tournament head-to-head with Bryant’s, even on the same night of the week.
“We came on the scene and mucked it up a bit,” Bryant recalls.
However, three years down the track, Murphy and the Wakatipu Rugby Club are now happy to leave the field clear for Touch Southland.
“It makes sense for Touch Southland to take over, they are trying to grow the game in our area,” Murphy says.
Outgoing WRC president Damien O’Connell echoes that comment: “They’ve got an avenue for junior and senior players if they want to go further.
“They want to try to push it a bit harder than what we would.”
Murphy’s competition was not only seven-a-side, but was also mixed only, with more points awarded when women scored tries.
Bryant says Touch Southland will bring the Queenstown game “up to the 21st century”.
“We can add to the touch experience for all players if we are sole providers in Queenstown.”
Bryant says all players can now aspire to representative honours.
“We also want to invest in a development officer in Queenstown at some stage.”
Bryant hopes about 30 mixed and men’s teams will enter this year’s competition, which will run each Monday after next Tuesday’s start because of Labour Day.
Entries – $250 per team – close on Saturday via www.touchsouthland.co.nz.
The competition runs for seven weeks before semi-finals on December 12 and finals a week later.