Pirates president Stuart Prowse has spoken about his disappointment over Tamworth’s decision to join the New England competition – but told the club they “can’t hide from us forever”.
Last month Tamworth – a 1958 Central North foundation club – announced that they had changed zones, ending the decades-old rivalry with Pirates.
But Prowse believes that the proposed merger of the Central North and New England zones will eventually happen and the rivalry will resume.
He said Pirates believed the severing of the local derby “will only be a hiatus … for possibly a year.
“Because the integrated comp will happen eventually,” he added.
“So [you] can’t hide from us forever.”
Prowse laughed after making the “can’t hide” remark.
But he did not laugh when speaking about Tamworth’s zone move.
He said: “It’s disappointing because the local derby has always been a focal point for the rugby community.
“And it’s disappointing for rugby fans, more than anything, I think.”
In a statement announcing the zone shift, Tamworth president Mitchel Hanlon said the process had been “difficult and emotional but one we felt compelled to make”.
He listed multiple reasons behind the decision, including what he described as a drop in player participation rates in the Central North zone over the past decade.
The other reasons included the New England zone’s “strong consideration of their lower grades”.