Three out of eight Group Three rugby league clubs happy to play in 2020

Forster-Tuncurry and Old Bar were two of the three clubs willing to play this season.
Forster-Tuncurry and Old Bar were two of the three clubs willing to play this season.

ONLY three of the eight Group Three Rugby League clubs, Old Bar, Forster-Tuncurry and Macleay Valley, want to play a competition this year.

The other five are content to sit 2020 out and look to next season. All clubs replied to the group this week following a meeting held on May 12 to discuss the possibility of playing football this year.

Group Three chairman Wayne Bridge said Old Bar, Forster and Macleay indicated they wanted to play in all four grades. However, there was no interest in any grade from the other five.

Mr Bridge thinks it 'highly unlikely' the group would organise a competition for the three clubs. However, he added there is an avenue for the clubs to look to play in another group this year by invitation.

Mr Bridge understands the one grade Wauchope-based Hastings League won't proceed this season. This leaves Group Two or Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League as the possible alternatives.

"The last I heard Group Two was in the same position as us,'' he said.

"The majority of their clubs aren't interested in this year.''

However, if there are some clubs in Group Two willing to play Mr Bridge said it's feasible that Old Bar, Forster and Macleay could take part in a hybrid Group Two/Group Three competition. Macleay is a former Group Two club. Group Two takes in clubs from Macksville to Grafton.

Mr Bridge added that should this eventuate there is an avenue for players from the other Group Three clubs interested in getting a game to link with Old Bar, Forster or Macleay. This has been confirmed by the NSWRL. The deadline for player registrations - usually June 30 - has also been extended.

It's understood that Group Three confirmed at the May 12 meeting that all costs would be cancelled for this year. However, players would have had to pay their own registration and insurance fees. It costs $160 a player for senior men, $45 for women's league tag and $40 for under 18s.

Mr Bridge said the other five Group Three clubs expressed concerns about the costs of playing a competition, especially if crowds aren't allowed to matches or if there is a cap on the number of spectators permitted under COVID 19 restrictions.

"The clubs would still have game day and training expenses even if they don't pay players,'' he said.

"There's things like ground hire and paying for floodlights. With little income coming in these would soon add up.''

Mr Bridge added the NSWRL is still awaiting approval for community football to start from the federal and state governments. It's believed clubs would be able to resume training from next week.

Rugby league resumed here after World War II in 1946 and there has been an organised competition played every year since.

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