Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Avalon rugby club in Lower Hutt relegated from premier grade...


After a proud 30-year history, since the amalgamation of Taita and Naenae in late 1979 and the commencement of playing in the 1980 season, Avalon will not be represented in the premier one club rugby competition next year.

Avalon won the Swindale Shield in 1991 and 2001 and were back-to-back semi-finalists in 2003 and 2004.

In the glory years the team fielded two All Blacks - lock Chris Tregaskis and openside flanker Scott Waldrom - while Thomas Waldrom and Mahonri Schwalger played for the Hurricanes, the latter also played for the Highlanders. Other players such as Huia Gordon, were selected for NZ Maori sides.

Club caretaker Gordon Hays has managed Avalon for 19 years and said it is going through its worst period. "It's bitterly disappointing everyone is gutted and frustrated.

"I think the players need to have a good look at themselves. We will be working hard next year with our young guys to regain premier status."

Johnsonville lost to Wainuiomata on Saturday but have done enough in the Hardham Cup to regain premier status for next year.

It is all very well for the club's officials to blame current players, but a lack of promotion of the club, recruitment and development of younger players from the colleges and at age grade level has been a problem for a decade or more.

Even back in the club's so-called heyday, young club players were often cast aside in the club's pursuit of established or up and coming players from outside of the Avalon club. The Avalon club's executive cast aside the "family club" image in pursuit of a grandiose professional status. A classic case of having a beer income but a champagne existence. It actually takes more than image, change of uniform and blazers to create fundamental change.

Many club members were never given real credit for their time and involvement in the club. I personally was involved in both senior and junior administration in the Avalon Rugby Football Club for a decade - I am still the longest serving junior rugby convenor in the club's history.

To get a team back into the premier grade will take a lot of hard work in promotion of the club and development of younger players in coming years.

I wish the Avalon club the best for the future.

Avalon Club information

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