Fight to save rugby league
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.