Rural sport has its challenges, but Southern United Rugby Football Club in Tokoroa is doing its best to ensure local people – men, women and children – get to play.
As its name suggests, the club is the southernmost rugby football club in the Waikato league. With around 320 players, it is a large club for a rural town, and enjoys its share of success.
For a start, the club is one of the few in the Waikato to have a full women’s team. Now in its second year, the team often plays in the Bay of Plenty due to the lack of competition locally, and has already made it to the final.
The men’s teams, too, play well, with the A team sitting consistently at the top of the first division, aiming to move up to the premier league. Then there’s the 200 primary-aged kids, boys and girls, who turn up for practice and games every week, rain or shine.
All this takes an enormous amount of coordination, but club Treasurer Linley Balvert reckons it’s worth it.
“As a club, we’ve put in a lot of effort over recent years to make our clubrooms comfortable and attractive,” says Linley. “As a result, they’ve become a real community hub, well used by groups and families for social and other functions.”
Linley also considers the club lucky to have access to buses.
“Being so far south, transport is one of the biggest barriers our players face. With buses, we can make sure everyone gets to the game, safely and on time.”
The senior teams routinely travel as far afield as Huntly and Hinuera to play, while the junior teams’ games are usually based at Morrinsville or Cambridge.
“We always turn up though,” says Linley; which goes a long way towards explaining the cub’s success.
Trust Waikato was pleased to donate $4,000 to Southern United RFC in 2015/2016, for travel costs and chairs for the clubrooms.