TWO years worth of lopsided defeats in the Upper Mid North Coast rugby competition has ultimately proved too much for Wauchope Thunder.
The Thunder moved from the southern zone for the 2017 season knowing they would face tough opposition from Hastings Valley, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Southern Cross University, Kempsey and Grafton.
Club vice-president Paddy Bowen admitted “being belted every week” had taken its toll on the club which at times struggled for players throughout their 2018 campaign.
As a result, the Thunder will return back to the southern zone in 2019 with Grafton also leaving the competition and heading to the Far North Coast.
Bowen said he understood the Redmen left the competition because of multiple reasons including the belief that some clubs lacked adequate facilities.
But the Thunder’s decision to leave the Upper Mid North Coast competition was based on the club’s performance as well as the culture of the competition and support from other clubs.
“Only a couple of clubs supported our sponsor well post-match, sticking around and socialising,” Bowen said.
“The southern clubs are very supportive of each other which is what our club and community will benefit from.”
The Thunder vice-president also stated a level of frustration from “playing the same teams all the time” in a five-team competition.
“It can be hard to find value in round matches when that's the case, especially if one club is having a tough year,” he said.
“New England went through similar issues before Tamworth Magpies joined the comp in 2018.”
Bowen admitted it was a tough situation for Mid North Coast rugby when their goal was to grow the game.
“The likes of Forster or Wallamba would be very competitive against Upper Mid North Coast teams, more so than we were,” he said.
Mid North Coast Rugby Union chief executive Bob Wilson refuted suggestions the Thunder had been forced back to the southern zone.
“It was their choice in the first place to go and join the upper Mid North Coast competition and it didn’t quite work out for them,” he said.