PORT Macquarie rugby clubs have welcomed Wauchope Thunder into the upper Mid-North Coast zone, saying it improves the standard of the competition.
Thunder made the decision to move zones last week.
Representatives from champions, the Hastings Valley Vikings, and runners-up, Port Macquarie Pirates, were full of praise for Thunder yesterday.
Both said it was great news, but warned Thunder there would be some difficult games ahead next season before the newest Hastings team found its feet in the zone.
Pirates president Peter Gerathy said it was "great news".
"It will be a big step for them," Gerathy said. "It's definitely a jump in standard."
Gerathy said Thunder's committee was to be congratulated for making the move.
"It's a great decision they've made after one year down south," he said.
Outgoing Vikings president David Barnes echoed his rivals' sentiments.
"I think it's awesome," he said. "It's great to have another side from the Hastings in there.
"Whether they are competitive or not, it's good for them."
Barnes also credited the Thunder committee.
"They have a good focus on where they're heading," he said.
Another rivalry with the Vikings is something to look forward to.
"It's a different rivalry to the one with the Pirates," Barnes said. "It's a social rivalry, rather than just one about rugby."
Chris Trutwein has taken over as Vikings president after the club's annual general meeting yesterday.
Brent Horan is the vice president. Lee Riske is treasurer and Gil Hopley secretary.
Barnes said he would miss the role.
"But it will be good to sit back and let it go," he said.
He'd been at the helm for two years.
"It's been a pleasure," Barnes said. "Two years and two grand finals. Four wins."
Gerathy will continue in the Pirates role for another year, after that club's AGM.
Mike Reed and Jeremy Brigden are the vice presidents. Pat Hourigan is Pirates' secretary. Reed is in the interim treasurer.
Gerathy looked forward to leading the Pirates again.
"I hope the new committee can keep more of the same," he said. "Moving us forward."