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'(By "Onlooker.")

Tfoe ourtain will be rung up on the 1919 season next week, aud tne good old game of Rugby football will be resumed locally under peaceful conditions. When the ca3 to arms was sounded, the yoifhg men of. this district made a magniricent response. Unfortunately, a large numoer of our most prominent footballers have paid the supremo sacrince, but their, noble deeds will not be forgotten. Steps have already been taken by. local clubs to prepare rolls of honour.

As was only to be expected, rugby suffered a severe set-baeK. during the war period. The standard of play last season, particularly amongst the senior teams, was poor, and at tne best would not be classed above second grade. However, the Rugby Union and the older and younger players who were "unlit," deserve credit for the manner in which they kept the : game going, under adverse circumstances, and at a tiino when little or no interest was evinced in pastimes of airy kind. Happily, the time has arrived for the game to take a new lease of life. The, "boys" are returning in large numbers, and their enthusiasm as regards football, which formed one of their principal forms of recreation when they were off duty at the-front, has in no way diminished. Tlife prospects for the forthcoming seasbfiPiii.....the Ashburton Qounty are decidedly bright, and although the standard of piay may not at lirst be up to that of .-pre-war days, the interest displayed. amongst the football fraternity shows that the game has not lost its glamour of sportsmanship and social elements. ■ season will mark the appearance of a number of new players m senior football, and there is much to be done in the way of bringing the game back to the usual standard, so it is necessary that the Union should have the co-operation and earnest support of all ariiliated clubs.

The Union has decided to hold two competitions this winter, a senior and a junior, and there is every indication that there will be some keen competition for premiership honours. All the club meetings were largely attended, and the enthusiasm displayed augurs well for the success of the competitions. In' the country centres the game also is being revived with renewed vigour, senior teams having been formed at Rakaia, Methven, and Springburn, so that with "Old Boys," "Southern Cross," and "Ashburton," the latter of which combined with Southern Cross during the war, six teams will be engaged in the .first grade competition. In the junior contest it is hoped there will be at least one team from each of the local clubs, one from the High School, and two from the Technical Past and Present Club, which was recently organised. The public should, therefore, be provided with ample attractions during .the coming winter, so far at least as football is concerned.

A successful season is also predicted for school football. In addition to the local: competition, It is hoped that arrangements will be made for several inter-collegiate matches. School football' is a pastime which deserves the earnest support of the Union, lo quote the opinion of a well-known college master: The rules of. the" Rugby Union more strongly approximate the conditions-of: .our own game than do those of the Association code, and it is invariably found that a good player in a Hot with very little practice has the makings of a fine Rugby forward. This master's experience, extending over a period of more than 30 years, during the j whole of which time he closely follow'ed'all forms of sport, and endeavoured 'to identify himself with the interests 1 and amusements of officers and men, tended to the belief — shared by many »others—that Rugby football was!the finest character-form-ing sport in! • the world. It embodied all those great qualities which had so strongly come to > the front during the last four-and a-half years, viz., courage, endurance, and Belfcontrol.

At the annual meeting of the Rugby Onion last week, Mr A. Thomson, the Ashburton Qjiub's delegate, raised the important question of providing for those players^, who' may happen to meet with an accident while playing tootball, and suggested that steps should be taken to,, establish an Accident Fund. The \ suggestion met with the hearty approval of members of the Union, and a discussion ensued as to the means of" raising the money, some favouring the setting aside of certain matches, whilst 1 others thought the levying of a tax on the players would be'the most feasible. As remarked by one of the members, there is no reason why the public should not contribute indirectly towards the fund, as it is for tlieir amusement that the game is played to a certain extent. This could be done by arranging for one or two special matches for the purpose. On the other hand, a tax of one shilling per player would be sufficient to pay lor the premiums, and would not be out of the way. The question, however, was referred to the clubs to decide, and it is understood the majority of them are in favour of a tax being levied. In Christchurch last week, the Canterbury Rugby Union agreed to adopt a scheme by which each afhhated senior club will pay a fee of £3 3s, a junior club £2 2s, and all clubs below junior grade £1 Is. This will provide 'for certain payments to injured players who lose their wages, but will not provide for the payment of medical expenses,-for, which clubs will have to make their own arrangements.

The Canterbury Rugby Union intends this season to give more than usual attention to Country Rugger, which it is expected will be taken up with renewed enthusiasm. The local Union is in receipt of a letter from the C.R.F.U,,- intimating that it has decided to call a conference of all _afnV liated sub-unions and the C.R.F.U. executive on Wednesday, May 14, with a view to discussing matters in connection with country football. The local body has been asked to send along one or two delegates, who are requested to make suggestions affecting the pastime in this district. The matter will come up for discusson at the weekly meeting of the Ashburton Rugby Union to-night, and as the step suggested by the parent body is in the right direction, it is earnestly hoped it will receive favourable consideration.

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Bibliographic details

RUGBY FOOTBALL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9601, 5 May 1919

Word Count

RUGBY FOOTBALL. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9601, 5 May 1919

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