The Otago rugby team’s upcoming pre-season training camp in the Wakatipu will help put a proposed new scholarship programme on the map.
Local businessman, former Otago Rugby Union boss Russell Gray, says he’s hoping for support to provide about six $5000 scholarships a year for talented young country players who’d commit to playing for Otago and likely attend Dunedin’s Otago University or Otago Polytechnic.
Gray says he’s told Otago Union chairman Wayne Graham: “If you want us to connect with you, you’ve got to get the players up here.”
The 27-man Otago squad will stay three nights at the Arrowtown Camping Ground from Sunday, visit local primary schools and train with both local rugby clubs. Gray plans to pitch the scholarship programme at a mix-and-mingle function at Arrowtown’s New Orleans on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Wakatipu and Arrowtown have had to reschedule premier games due to the Dunedin Test match on Saturday night.
Wakatipu – which lost 10-7 to Arrowtown last Saturday despite huge possession and territory advantage – will travel to Cromwell to play tonight.
“Cromwell’s more used to playing under lights and are a vastly different team at home,” Wakatipu coach Kelvin Middleton warns.
Arrowtown coach Blair Wilce is also wary of playing away against Clyde, lunchtime Saturday.
“In this year’s [Central Otago] competition, you play a big game like last Saturday and then you think next week’s going to be easy but it’s actually not.”
A number of both teams’ best players who represented Central Otago in the Topp Game last week are also tired out after three tough games in seven days, Wilce says.
“Even a lot of professional players don’t have to do that.”
PREMIERS: Cromwell v Wakatipu, Cromwell, 7pm tonight
Clyde v Arrowtown, Clyde, Saturday, 1.30pm
SENIORS: Wakatipu Wanderers a bye