Westside gone; Macquarie lack Juniors
LAST weekend, Dubbo Westside had to forfeit first grade at Forbes, effectively ending the club’s 2019 season in Group XI. Meanwhile, the Raiders faced an almost unprecedented situation at home – they were unable to scrape together an Under-18s team.
It must be a huge worry for Group officials who now have a bye across all grades, a situation that has arisen because of Westside’s diabolical situation with player numbers.
Macquarie, like other clubs including Nyngan and Narromine, has struggled all season to get Juniors on the paddock and now find themselves unable to qualify in the Under-18s for the first time in living memory.
Group Secretary Paul Loxley told ABC on Monday morning, while Westside’s fate was sealed when they only had 10 senior players available in Forbes, the future of the club is still very much alive.
“We have been working with some very committed people, driven by their love of rugby league and having a club to which families can belong. We are optimistic that with some of the sweeping administrative changes introduced by the Rabbitoh’s committee, the red and greens will be able to return for the 2020 season.”
Macquarie officials are also hopeful this is only a one-off year for the club. Dubbo Junior Rugby League has only two Under-16s teams at present, the bulk of young people flowing into other sports like rugby union and soccer or not playing at all on weekends. Work commitments and the availability of many other activities has changed the landscape considerably.
As the countdown to the finals series races on, Narromine (this Sunday) and CYMS in the final round, will have no matches.
This will be particularly difficult for the Fishies who lead the competitions in Firsts, League Tag and Juniors and who could wrap up the Reserve Grade minor Westside pictured in action during their match against CYMS in June. premiership if they defeat Nyngan on Sunday. Their teams will have a two week break before playing Major Semi-finals matches which most would say is “less than ideal”.
Country Rugby League, Western Rams and Group XI officials have plenty to address ahead of the new year. Maybe the door will open to a re-jigging of competition structures in a similar fashion to the approach taken by Central West Rugby Union to address changing demographics.