League fo­rums prove footy’s fu­ture in good hands

Central and North Burnett Times - - SPORT -

RUGBY LEAGUE: A shift in fo­cus from the NRL could be the cat­a­lyst that kick­starts the re­vival of strug­gling clubs in the North Bur­nett.

A change in strat­egy is what coun­try rugby league so des­per­ately needs.

The NRL has tra­di­tion­ally em­ployed a tar­get-fo­cused ap­proach to growth – all that mat­tered was num­bers.

A new, pri­or­ity-driven fo­cus aims to rev­o­lu­tionise game de­vel­op­ment in lack­lus­tre ar­eas, in­clud­ing the North Bur­nett.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the NRL and QRL vis­ited Monto and Gayn­dah last week to be­gin the dif­fi­cult task of re­vers­ing the sport’s de­clin­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion.

NRL game de­vel­op­ment man­ager Richard Dug­dale didn’t mince his words.

Dug­dale laid bare the harsh re­al­ity of coun­try rugby league, say­ing the good old days were over.

He said so­ci­ety had changed, the world had moved on and com­mu­nity clubs and com­pe­ti­tions must adapt.

“The North Bur­nett shares a gen­eral un­der­stand­ing that things need to change for the sake of ju­nior and se­nior rugby league,” Dug­dale said.

“Peo­ple are open to the big pic­ture and com­fort­able to ex­plore new op­tions.

“For­mats will need to adapt to suit the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.”

Cen­tral Bur­nett Rugby League is in a re­build­ing phase and while the NRL rec­om­mends a full-strength club have 20-25 regis­tered play­ers, that ap­pears an un­re­al­is­tic tar­get for many lo­cal clubs, which are scrap­ing by with a skele­ton crew of 13.

Shorter sea­sons, smaller teams and dual reg­is­tra­tions were pro­posed to keep the lo­cal com­pe­ti­tion alive.

Start small and worry about ex­pan­sion later seemed to be the idea.

Dug­dale said these changes had proven suc­cess­ful else­where but re­quired the buy-in of ev­ery club.

The first step was de­vel­op­ing res­o­lute com­mit­tees to drive the change.

Monto and Eidsvold must iden­tify the ded­i­cated in­di­vid­u­als found at the re­gion’s estab­lished clubs.

If that hap­pened, Dug­dale was con­fi­dent they could turn things around.

“It’s go­ing to take a team ef­fort from ev­ery­one in­volved.

“Clubs with­out a team need to form a com­mit­tee that the NRL and QRL can work with,” he said.

“Estab­lished clubs need to be flex­i­ble and com­pas­sion­ate to sup­port the oth­ers.

“The key is that dis­cus­sions are tak­ing place now to al­low clubs to es­tab­lish strong com­mit­tees and plan for the fu­ture.”

PHOTO: MACKEN­ZIE CO­LA­HAN

FO­RUM: NRL game de­vel­op­ment man­ager Richard Dug­dale, QRL Bur­nett op­er­a­tions man­ager Lisa An­der­son and NRL's Blake Mara in Monto.

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