Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Deniliquin Drovers to join Southern Inland Rugby Union

After several board meetings, the Drovers are all set to re-join the SIRU, where it played for 20 years from 1985 to 2004.

SHAUN CONNOR February 22, 2013 4:55am

Deniliquin Drovers Rugby Union Club will return to its original competition in the Southern Inland Rugby Union for the 2013 season.

Club president Tim Strong, coach Warwick Strong and captain Jack Ellice-Flint attended the SIRU’s annual general meeting in November last year to express Deniliquin’s interest in joining the Wagga-based competition.

The application was confirmed this week, although a decision on which grade Deniliquin will play in is still to be made.

‘‘Everyone at the club is really excited about re-joining a competition we have so much history with,’’ Warwick Strong said.

‘‘We have a lot of players who haven’t played in the SIRU before and they are really looking forward to it.

‘‘The best part about it is that we still know a lot of the guys who run the competition. Tim (Strong) did a good job handling the move and talking to the board.’’

Deniliquin competed in the SIRU from the club’s establishment in 1985 through to 2004.

The Drovers made a grand debut, sharing the ‘85 premiership flag with Wagga Agricultural College, and were a consistent performer for the next 20 years.

For the past eight seasons however, the local side has been part of Victorian Country Rugby Union.

‘‘We enjoyed being in the Victorian competition but it did struggle a bit,’’ Strong said.

‘‘We are going back to an established competition which pays people to run it. It has three senior grades, a junior grade and is in the process of starting a ladies competition, which we want to get involved in.’’

The SIRU’s senior ranks are made up of three grades, with Deniliquin likely to slot into second grade alongside Wagga Ag College, Wagga Waratahs, Albury, Cootamundra, Griffith, CSU Wagga, Leeton, Wagga City, Temora, Tumut and Young.

Hay has confirmed to the SIRU that it will drop to third grade, while Riverina ADF (RARC) has not entered a side this year, leaving a vacant spot in the draw for Deni to claim.

Which grade the Drovers will play in won’t be made official until after the SIRU’s next board meeting on March 4.

‘‘It’s unofficially been decided that we’ll be joining second grade,’’ Strong said.

‘‘Second grade won’t be a huge step-up (from the VCRU) but it is still a strong competition with a high standard.

‘‘Joining first grade would be the equivalent of the Deni Rams joining the Goulburn Valley Football League.’’

However, the move to the new competition has caused a problem with the scheduling of the Drovers’ home matches, which it usually plays at Hardinge St Oval, home of the Deni Rams.

If Deniliquin does join second grade, there is only one game on the draft draw that doesn’t clash with a Rams home game, meaning the Drovers will have to play elsewhere.

‘‘That (where the Drovers will play) could be a potential issue, especially early on,’’ Strong said.

‘‘At the moment we are looking at two other grounds in Rotary Park and Memorial Park’s No. 3 oval.

‘‘After a while we might be able to look more into sharing the [Hardinge St Oval].’’

Some Drovers players have already started pre-season training in preparation for the upcoming season, but training officially gets under way on February 28. Any new or interested players are welcome to train with the club at the Hardinge St oval from 6.45pm each Thursday.

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