THE next nine months are going to be huge for Central West Rugby Union according to the association’s CEO.
Peter Veenstra said significant changes to CWRU’s weekly competitions and hosting the NSW Country Senior Rugby Championships would make for a monumental year.
The Blowes Clothing Cup is back to a 10-team competition thanks to the return of the Mudgee Wombats, the Australian National Field Days competition has been changed to the Grain Corp Cup and Mudgee’s Glen Willow Oval will host the country championships on March 29 and 30.
“There is plenty going on,” Veenstra said. “I’m looking forward to the season.”
The country championships will be the first “cab off the rank” as preparations for selecting the Central West Blue Bulls begin on Sunday in Dubbo.
The central west under 20s selection trial will be held on Sunday, February 2, at Orange’s Endeavour Oval.
“We always like to think we have plenty of players to choose from,” Veenstra explained.
“This year we have stepped up to the top half of the tournament, the Caldwell Cup, and what’s more, the under 20s will be going into the championships as joint-winners with Newcastle.
“The planning for the country championships from a NSW Country point of view is in hand. Mudgee Rugby will be hosting it and what makes it more easier is the facility at Glen Willow. I believe it is the best facility in country NSW.”
The 18-round Blowes Clothing Cup competition kicks off on Saturday, April 5, with early mouth-watering clashes setting the scene for an exciting season.
Fans will be excited for first round matches which include a grand final replay between Orange City and Parkes, an encounter between Dubbo Kangaroos and Narromine, and the Wombats making their long-awaited return to the top tier.
Mudgee will play their first Blowes Cup match since 2007 against Forbes at Grinstead Park.
“I’m really pleased to see the Wombats back there. It has been a three-year project for them,” he said.
“If you look closely at the draw, three of Mudgee’s first four matches are against teams who have the same number of teams as them. We did that deliberately because we wanted to give them a desirable transition.
“I’m sure they are going to find it difficult [stepping up to Blowes] and we didn’t want to give them the strongest sides first up.”
The rivalry rounds will be played later in the season, rounds nine and 18, and Veenstra said it was commonsense to have them when the season was in full flight.
“We get a lot of supporters for those matches. People look forward to it and the players look forward to them,” he said.
“With the nature of the competition, the fifth position [on the ladder] is generally decided in the final round.”
The other big change for the season is the naming of the second tier competition.
Since 2010, the old President’s Cup was named as the Australian National Field Days Cup before the competition split into a northern and southern conference in 2011.
This year, the competition will continue to be split in two but under the banner of the Grain Corp Cup.