MOVING NORTH: Fraser Coast Mariners will leave the Sunshine Coast Rugby Union to play against Bundaberg teams in the Spring Cup.
MOVING NORTH: Fraser Coast Mariners will leave the Sunshine Coast Rugby Union to play against Bundaberg teams in the Spring Cup. Alistair Brightman

Mariners spring out of Sunny Coast comp

RUGBY: An unfair draw and desire to rebuild rugby participation have prompted Fraser Coast Mariners to leave the Sunshine Coast Rugby Union for Bundaberg's Spring Cup.

The Mariners have played in the SCRU for almost a decade, taking on teams like Gympie, Noosa, Caloundra and beyond during the winter season.

This year's SCRU has expanded to include Brisbane clubs Wynnum and Caboolture, but the proposed reserve grade draw left the Mariners little choice but to pull the pin.

Already hamstrung by the longest road trips in the competition, the Mariners were expected to play just five games at its Walkers Rd home, with 13 away trips to grounds as far south as Caboolture.

With numbers already an issue, Mariners veteran Trent Devere said it left the Fraser Coast little choice but to consider its options, including a move to Bundaberg Rugby's Spring Cup.

It is not a new idea. Fraser Coast rugby legend Mark Cassidy has long held the view the Mariners should play against teams from Wide Bay.

A move to the Spring Cup, which is held during the warmer months but in evening time slots, would allow the Mariners to recruit players who would usually be playing rugby league and other sports, as well as give Fraser Coast rugby players a better opportunity to earn a place in the Wide Bay Whales representative team.

"The best way forward for us is the Spring Cup in Bundaberg,” Cassidy said.

"It's not that we're never going back to the Sunshine Coast, but the Sunshine Coast is doing the Sunshine Coast and they don't seem too interested in building rugby here.

"There used to be a Wide Bay competition and that is a possibility down the track.”

Fraser Coast's juniors, the Fighting Whiting, played against teams from Maryborough and Bundaberg for the first time at the end of last year, and it is a format the senior Mariners are keen to follow.

"They're going to and from Bundaberg and we're going to follow suit,” Devere said.

"We're going to play in Bundaberg this year. Hopefully we can follow the junior games with seniors and grow rugby as one. It's great exposure and experience for our juniors.

"We hope it starts a growth in rugby and gives us time to recruit players.”

While far from confirmed, Devere said the Mariners hoped to play at home on Friday nights.

Juniors already play on Friday evenings, and games against Gympie in that prime time slot had been well supported in the past.

The next Spring Cup season will not start until September, which will give the Mariners nine months to plan and prepare for its next games.