New Central West Rugby Union president John Maynard admits there’s an air of excitement surrounding the new-look structure for the 2018 season following the release of this year’s draws.
Round one of the Blowes Clothing Cup will be punctuated by an Emus-City Orange derby, while the level of rugby from Dubbo Roos, Cowra, Bathurst Bulldogs and defending premiers Forbes is expected to reach new heights.
Also in round one, Bathurst meets Cowra and the Platypi begin its title defence on the road against Roos.
Maynard said the game’s new administration, which includes incoming CEO Matt Tink, was keen to put a tumultuous 2017 behind it and kick-start a new dawn for rugby this winter.
“There’s a lot of positives heading into the new season,” Maynard said.
“Beau Robinson will be back (with Dubbo Roos), that’s fantastic for the zone, Matt Tink back is fantastic as well.
“It is a suck-it-and-see season, there’s significant change to our structure. You can guarantee nothing is perfect, I’ve learnt that over the years, but we’re really looking forward to the rugby.
“The level of consistency we should see across all grades is something we’re striving for.”
Round one of the season is on April 7, with the first grand final rematch between Emus and Forbes locked in for May 5 – the date for Orange’s Shute Shield clash.
There’s the regular break for the country championship (April 28) and for the June long weekend (June 9), but the 2018 draw also has an addition general bye.
The competition will have a week off between the final regular season round on July 28 and week one of the finals, August 11.
While the grand final will be on August 25 – nearly a month earlier than last year’s Emus-Platypi decider.
“The season length has been an issue for a while. But the shortening of the season by a month can be a positive thing.
“Hopefully everyone gets a consistent level of rugby each week.”
Maynard was adamant all of the CWRU’s competitions were crucial to success in 2018, with the new second tier premiership and GrainCorp Cups both kicking off on April 7.
The GrainCorp grand finals are on August 11. The yet-to-be-named second tier’s decider is on August 18.
BLOWES CLOTHING CUP:
ROUND ONE (April 7): Bathurst v Cowra, Orange City v Orange Emus, Dubbo Roos v Forbes.
ROUND TWO (April 14): Orange Emus v Bathurst, Forbes v Orange City, Cowra v Dubbo Roos.
ROUND THREE (April 21): Bathurst v Forbes, Orange City v Dubbo Roos, Orange Emus v Cowra.
ROUND FOUR (May 5): Dubbo Roos v Bathurst, Cowra v Orange City, Orange Emus v Forbes.
ROUND ONE (April 7): Blayney v CSU Bathurst, Parkes v Dubbo Rhinos, Mudgee v Narromine.
ROUND TWO (April 14): Dubbo Rhinos v Blayney, Narromine v Parkes, CSU Bathurst v Mudgee.
ROUND THREE (April 21): Blayney v Narromine, Parkes v Mudgee, Dubbo Rhinos v CSU Bathurst.
ROUND FOUR (April 28): Mudgee v Blayney, CSU Bathurst v Parkes, Dubbo Rhinos v Narromine.