Otago rugby squad ready to adjust to ITM Cup changes next year

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Otago, New Zealand (4E Sports) – The Otago Rugby Football Union is ready to adjust to changes that are expected to be introduced to the ITM Cup next year.

Provincial administrators will meet in Wellington Friday where they will discuss whether to implement changes that will be acceptable to the 14 unions.

Majority of the unions want to get rid of midweek games, which they felt were not financially attractive and also impacted on players and their ability to recover from playing three games in eight days.

Many coaches said short breaks between games led to the focus switching to recovery, rather than actually developing players.

This year, the ITM Cup was played in a condensed format with the competition, including semifinals and finals were played out over an eight-week window.

For its part, Otago played its first game on August 25 and the championship final against Counties-Manukau was played October 26. The Counties-Manukau bagged the championship with a 41-16 victory.

Otago Rugby Football Union general manager Richard Kinley said there were various scenarios to consider before implementing changes.

KInley said if midweek matches were eliminated, the competition might have to start a week earlier and go a week later. Another alternative was to not play the semifinals and just have a straight final.

”The players’ attitudes and also that of the coaches was that as soon as you know the draw, then you plan towards that,” Kinley said.

Kinley is constantly communicating with coach Tony Brown and assistant coach Phil Young, who are both willing to adjust should there be changes.

Kinley also expects that the draw for next season could come out early next year as the New Zealand Rugby Players Association and the New Zealand Rugby Union were working towards a new collective agreement.

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