Hammers women denied grand final berth
RUGBY UNION: When the Gympie Hammers women defeated Noosa, they thought they would be preparing for a grand final but instead "will be sitting on the side line”.
The Hammers celebration of a 15-12 win leading to a grand final berth were cut short when Noosa lodged a protest with Sunshine Coast Rugby Union about documentation control.
"Unfortunately from the Hammers as a club in rebuild stage some document control with the register has let us down. The invaluable lesson for the club itself and for individuals who had treaded a fine line will be priceless for our future understanding of the competition rules,” Hammers club representative Jason McPherson said.
"I felt the disappointment for all the members who had completed documents correctly and hoped we are never faced with this again. I am disappoint that Noosa's sportsmanship and integrity has stooped to a level to use the pen when they clearly were beaten fair and square on the field.”
Hammers women coach Mark Crumblin says player numbers made it difficult to meet one of the rule requirements.
"The rule is that every player has to have played three games when playing in finals. As we played only seven games this season, we didn't have enough players who had played three games,” Crumblin said.
"We contacted Sunshine Coast Rugby Union before the game and explained the situation. We received an email saying they would waive the three game rule as long as all players were registered with Australian Rugby Union.”
The on-field rivals produced a typical preliminary final - a close contest and a tough battle. But it was not meant to be for the Hammers.
"It was a great game from both sides but my girls played brilliantly,” Crumblin said.
"We found out on Tuesday that Noosa put in a protest saying we played with unregistered players. We proved they were all registered and then Sunshine Coast Rugby Union came back and said all players hadn't played all three games and the person that game permission (for Hammers to play) should not have done it.”
Crumblin said his side were gutted but this would increase the on-field rivalry between the two teams.
"It was very disappointing for the girls. We did everything we were told to do and they took it off us. If Noosa were that worried about it, then they shouldn't have played the game in the first place,” he said.
"We should be playing in a grand final but we will be on the side lines. There will definitely be bigger rivalry against them but all on the field.”
Despite being stripped of a grand final appearance, the Hammers are preparing for next season.
"Our first training session after that game, I had 12 girls turn up. All the girls were still full of high spirits and keen to get on with it,” Crumblin said.
"They are keen for next year and there will be good numbers. The girls are not wanting to dwell on it and they are going to go for it and make-up for it next year.”
Eight players from the Hammers side will be preparing for the 15 a side competition held over the next three weekends and the sevens series in mid-August.