Fight to save rugby league

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

It was meant to be a cel­e­bra­tory year but 2015 left the Pil­bara Rugby League on a limp, with player num­bers fall­ing 20 per cent.

The 40th an­niver­sary saw the South Hed­land Cougars fold in pre­sea­son and 2013 and 2014 cham­pi­ons Kar­ratha Roost­ers for­feit half way through due to a lack of play­ers af­ter the min­ing down­turn hit hard.

While they didn’t fold, the Port Hed­land Hawks strug­gled to put num­bers on the field all sea­son.

If not for an eleventh hour meet­ing, 2015 cham­pi­ons Kar­ratha Storm were look­ing like be­com­ing the lat­est vic­tims af­ter ini­tially fail­ing to form a com­mit­tee.

All up, the PRL lost 133 play­ers last sea­son, which NRL WA chief ex­ec­u­tive John Sack­son at­trib­uted to the min­ing down­turn and ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues. Kar­rathabased NRL de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Lenore Cham­bers added a lack of mo- rale and poor prepa­ra­tion as fur­ther rea­sons for the de­cline.

Now a new com­mit­tee has been formed, tasked with turn­ing the ship around and NRL WA is talk­ing big of plans for 2016.

Mr Sack­son said fix­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion was cru­cial to restor­ing rugby leagues’ pres­ence in the Pil­bara.

“It starts with com­mu­ni­ca­tion and it’s ex­cit­ing to hear there is a new com­mit­tee formed who are en­er­gised, pre­pared to do the hard work and work with us to get a great out­come,” he said.

“We want to get an­other NRL com­mu­nity road­show and we want to do that ideally at the be­gin­ning to im­pact on reg­is­tra­tions and peo­ple be­ing at­tracted to the game, par­tic­u­larly at ju­nior level.”

Mr Sack­son said nam­ing rights spon­sors, coach and ref­eree clin­ics, in­creased visi­ta­tion from NRL WA and im­proved path­ways to rep­re­sen­ta­tive rugby were all in the works for next sea­son.

Ms Cham­bers said de­spite the fall in num­bers the teams had a steady pop­u­la­tion base to draw from for next year.

“It shouldn’t take too long to re­build be­cause the num­bers of skilled and new play­ers are there,” she said.

“The more help we get and the more proac­tive we are in spread­ing the word the more peo­ple we’ll hav­ing join­ing.”

She said ref­eree num­bers were also look­ing bet­ter for next year.

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