Incoming CSU Bathurst president Josh Buttenshaw has confirmed his club is eyeing off a spot in the new Central West Rugby Union second tier.
The students battled to compete in the Blowes Clothing Cup’s first grade competition this season, finishing eighth with three wins from 18 rounds.
That battle, along with dwindling registration numbers, has forced Buttenshaw and his new committee to at least explore the idea of dropping back to the new tier.
After running the Blowes Clothing Cup and Graincorp Cups in 2017, the Central West Rugby Union will adopt a new tier in 2018 and 2019 that will serve as a bridge between those two competitions.
The second tier, which is yet to have an official name, will require six clubs to field first grade and second grade sides.
Buttenshaw said that level of rugby would suit the students, an outfit that hasn’t tasted first grade premiership success at a Blowes Clothing Cup level since 2004.
“We’re still kind of talking about it, nothing is set in stone but we’ve looked at numbers and they’re going down,” Buttenshaw said.
“We’re not sure what we’ll do, but the drop down is an option.”
Buttenshaw confirmed the club has spoken with CWRU officials ahead of the annual general meeting later this month about the potential move.
“I think they will come to every club … we’ve spoken to them,” he said.
We’re not sure what we’ll do, but the drop down is an option.CSU Bathurst rugby club president Josh Buttenshaw
When the changes were originally floated by CWRU in August, Orange clubs Emus and City, along with Dubbo Roos, premier Forbes, the Bathurst's Bulldogs and CSU were intended to be the clubs sticking in the top tier.
A first grade, second grade and colts side are mandatory to compete at that level. A non-compulsory third grade competition will also be run in the top tier.
Based on participation numbers alone, the CSU Bathurst club fitted the bill.
But Buttenshaw said despite his top side boasting some quality players, like Lochie Robinson, and fielding a regular colts outfit throughout the 2017 season, a drop down a peg was a definite possibility.
“The quality is there, but depth isn’t,” he revealed.
“(First grade’s battle) is one of the issues … and next year we lose a lot of those players, that happens every year with us.
“Our numbers change every year. We could have a massive influx of players but we won’t know until February.
“I guess we’ve got the AGM in November that’s coming up soon. Everything will be cleared up there.”
Buttenshaw’s a fan of the changes to the 2017 model.
He believes a revamped second tier with two compulsory grades will help clubs like Blayney and Narromine emerge as competitive forces.
“We would be more competitive as well.,” he said.
“I guess the structure had to change with the blow outs we had last year. We’ll see where it goes.”