The Gloucester Cockies were this year's women's rugby union "ten-a-side" grand finalists and women's premiers of 2018 when, to the anguish of all, the club suffered the frustration of failing to field a men's team.
But a rugby heart-continues beating in the Bucketts Range. To the delight of the Lower Mid North Coast clubs, the Cockies have emerged from a recent meeting optimistic they will field a men's team in next winter's competition, beginning on April 4.
Without the Cockies' men's XV, the premiership competition was reduced to five clubs, grand finalists Forster Tuncurry Dolphins and the Manning River Ratz, the Wallamba Bulls, the Wauchope Thunder and Old Bar Clams.
The Cockies were a major loss, their absence disruptive to the competition, creating an unsatisfactory "bye round" every month for each club.
It also cost Gloucester the dashing, young Mid North Coast Zone Axemen's representative fullback, Ryan Yates, who transferred to rugby league in frustration.
However, with the imminent return of the men's team, Yates is proving a "driving force" in the recruitment of players for the Cockies.
Last season's inspirational women's coach and former powerful Cockies backrower, Chris Marchant, product of the Sydney club, the Warringah "Green Rats", was enthusiastic about Gloucester fielding a men's XV next winter.
"It's early days, but we've had a very encouraging start. We'll announce the coaches' appointments in the next week or so," he said. Marchant is assured of retaining his position.
The Cockies have two new faces on the club committee, new club president, Jamie Searle, from Coonamble, and former-Coonabarabran identity, Rob McWilliam.
Of the forthcoming season, Marchant predicted the women's defending premiers, the Wauchope Thunder, would again be a force, declaring: "Our women's (10-a-side) team will be competitive, but Wauchope are extremely well-drilled.
"Their five-eighth guides the team around the field really well. They will be the bench-mark."
In addition, Wauchope women have an out and out champion in Ellie Johnston, a destructive runner and superb team performer in her generosity to team-mates and willingness to share tries.
Zone executive officer, Bob Wilson, will announce the draw for the competition later this month.