Rupertswood is hoping to make the most of its second chance in the Gisborne and District Cricket Association’s McIntyre Cup.
After finishing last in the recently completed season, Rupertswood was set to be relegated to B grade.
But last week, the GDCA board voted to change the format of the competition next season, with most grades increasing from eight teams to 10.
That means Rupertswood will stay in the top division while a second side from B grade will be promoted along with premier team Lancefield.
Rupertswood president Peter Kavanagh said the decision was a good result for the club, even though it had been prepared to return to the second division.
He said he understood why the board wanted to bring in the larger divisions, but also why several clubs were against the move.
Under the new format, teams will play nine two-day and three one-day matches, instead of even numbers of one-day and two-day games.
Kavanagh admits next season will be a challenge as the club starts to go through a rebuilding phase.
He said the club would lose at least four players from across its top two sides, for work reasons or through retirement.
“We’ll work pretty hard to stay off the bottom,” he said. “We know whether it was in Macs or B grade, we would be competitive.
“We beat [premier] Gisborne and [runners-up] Sunbury and most games we were thereabouts. Our intentions are to rebuild through our younger players.”
First step for Rupertswood is finding a new coach.
Mark Ryan was captain-coach, but the plan was for him to only ever do the role for one year.
Kavanagh said ideally the new leader would be a playing coach who was a strong batsman and could bring a couple of players with them.
GDCA president Rob McIntyre said the move to 10 team divisions would see a bigger focus on two-day cricket and give the association more flexibility as the association expands. Melton Centrals, Eynesbury and Trentham are considering joining the association.