The scarcest commodities in rugby union are front rowers, the battle-scarred bulls of the scrum, the cornerstones of the front row, men such as Gavin Maberly-Smith and Ben Manning, last year's props of the Lower Mid North Coast's unbeaten premiership-winning Forster Tuncurry Dolphins,
In rugby terms, they are men as valuable as diamonds.
Without them, there is no scrum and without a scrum, there is no game of rugby union.
Within days of the Forster club's announcement they were abandoning the 2020 season due to the pandemic, Maberly-Smith had determined he would continue playing this winter with a club which would appreciate his experience and strength of character.
From the Dolphins' perspective, the club wishes him well and trust he enjoys the season with the proviso he returns to the Tuncurry clubhouse next winter.
The concern is that Maberly-Smith's departure will lead to an exodus of Dolphins' players to other clubs.
Already two other prominent Dolphins' forwards are being mentioned as candidates to join another club, perhaps the Wallamba Bulls, of Nabiac.
With Kempsey withdrawing their senior, junior and women's teams from all competitions several weeks ago, and Port Macquarie not able to field first or reserve grade teams due to low playing numbers following their head coach's decision to 'quit' several weeks ago after being "disinterested and non-proactive in getting players together for the coming seasonBob Wilson
On the evidence of this winter's developments, Forster Tuncurry club can ill-afford to lose players without a junior development program to replace those attracted elsewhere or players drawn to metropolitan areas for university studies or employment.
Maberly-Smith is a splendid member for the Old Bar Clams club.
A town planner in Forster, he is intelligent, good-humoured and resolute of will.
At 47, he sees his age as no impediment to continuation in the game.
The executive officer of the Mid North Coast Rugby Union zone, Bob Wilson, yesterday announced that further to Forster club's decision to withdraw from the Lower MNC's Kennards Hire premiership, there will be no first grade or reserve grade Upper MNC competitions this winter.
Likewise, the women and junior competitions are under review.
"With Kempsey withdrawing their senior, junior and women's teams from all competitions several weeks ago, and Port Macquarie not able to field first or reserve grade teams due to low playing numbers following their head coach's decision to 'quit' several weeks ago after being "disinterested and non-proactive in getting players together for the coming season."
Mr Wilson said only three clubs remained to take part in the Upper MNC region competition, Coffs Harbour, Southern Cross University (SCU) and Hastings Valley, with Bowraville proposed as a fourth club.
The Hastings Valley Vikings have advised the zone they are not interested in a "tri-series competition, a decision Mr Wilson regretted "as "very disappointing as we could have made a positive out of a negative, as well as this being a celebration of the Vikings' 25th anniversary year.
"Both Coffs Harbour and SCU clubs will endeavour to play in either the Far North Coast or New
England competitions "as they feel responsible for giving their players a game of Rugby.
"The MNC RU appreciates the clubs and volunteers who support rugby on the MNC as sacrifices have to be made at times and not just excuses (made.)"
The Kennards Hire Lower MNC premiership will begin this Saturday, July 11 with the Manning River Ratz playing Wauchope Thunder at Wauchope, Wallamba meeting the Old Bar Clams at Nabiac and Gloucester having the bye.
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