West­side gone; Mac­quarie lack Ju­niors

Dubbo Photo News - - Sport - By GEOFF MANN

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.

PHOTO: MEL POCKNALL/FILE

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