From the rucks



A HUGE weekend of rugby in Grafton is coming up with the Redmen hosting the Country Championships in Under-14 and -15 age groups.

There'll be 13 teams and eight zones competing with selection in the Country Under-15 province teams and Under-14 Country training squads the carrot for competing players.

Almost 300 players will make for a hectic weekend, with the action starting from 8.30am both Saturday and Sunday at Rugby Park, South Grafton.

It will require all hands on deck for a variety of tasks, especially in setting up on Friday afternoon and pulling the whole show down again on Sunday.

Money raised will go to the Junior Redmen trip to New Zealand so I'd expect plenty of parental support, if only for a few hours.

It's a big task and an honour for the Redmen to be given the opportunity to host these championships, and probably a reward for all the work over the past couple of seasons to improve the playing and spectator facilities.

It shows that the $300,000 invested in the improvements are already reaping rewards, not only for the Redmen but for the town, with teams having to find accommodation as far away as Maclean and Nymboida.

nLET'S hope that the local council bear this in mind when considering the thorny issue of equity in ground hire fees across the Valley, especially when all of that money was sourced from Club funds, sponsorships, or State or Federal grants.

On that matter, it's Grafton one and Yamba two in the competition.

Both put many hours of voluntary labour and money into their Council-controlled grounds. One pays a ground hire fee, the other does not. Equity?

nTHE Redmen have the bye in this week's fifth round of the Coopers Far North Coast Rugby Union, and this will assist in hosting of the junior carnival.

Their effort last week against Tweed was pretty good -it's hard to say anything else with a 63-0 score line.

But Tweed threw up far greater resistance than the score suggests and their big pack was physical and took it right up to the Redmen pack.

It was only their fitness, and Grafton's greater composure and options out wide that were the difference.

Very pleasing for the Redmen was the performance of the Bailey and Gough second grade side who finally got their best side on the paddock and clicked.

Finally, their season has started ands we can look to some good things from them in the season ahead.

Tweed get the chance to climb off the bottom of the ladder when they host fellow cellar dwellers the Lennox Head Trojans, and they should do so quite comfortably.

Wollongbar host the surprise packets of the competition, Ballina.

The Seahorses have surprisingly won just once in four outings and won't relish the trip to the equal second placed Pioneers.

Form says Wollongbar, but how can Ballina keep losing with the side that they have?

Lismore, finally with a win over Ballina last week host the Students in a traditional local derby, the Students to win a tight one.

And the match of the day sees Yamba, in second spot, looking to make it four from five against a Casino side with plenty of confidence following last weeks 70 point flogging of Lennox.

The Buccaneers at home are getting very hard to beat and should continue their winning ways.



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