The Mudgee Wombats believe the need for a two-tier comp isn’t about blowout scorelines, rather the growth of the game in the region.
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That same afternoon the Boars forfeited second grade and colts, CSU forfeited third grade to Orange Emus, Cowra’s colts forfeited to Mudgee, and a week earlier Dubbo Rhinos forfeited in all grades.
Blowes Cup requires clubs to have a minimum of first and second grade and colts teams, with the third grarde non-compulsory.
Mudgee Rugby Club president, Greg Bartrim, said “we want to grow the zone and grow rugby generally in a market that we know is getting shorter on participants in sports across the board”.
“We’re in support mainly on the basis that it enables clubs to grow, with the current format - going from one team and then trying to step into Blowes Cup with three teams - is very difficult.
“Especially when you’re struggling for wins it’s hard to grow your club and there’s a lot of towns that are suffering problems and it’s a result of a lack of player numbers.
“The Bathurst proposal has got a lot of merit; it allows for more competitive rugby; more participation; greater visibility of a lot of players that maybe wouldn’t play; and greater exposure for rep coaches to select from.”
A second tier would also provide the missing link between Blowes Cup where larger areas thrive and GrainCorp Corp Cups for villages. Narromine this year dropped back to the latter after being unable to field the required number of teams and are currently undefeated.
“If you don’t create an environment where these middle of the road clubs can go out and play competitive footy they’re just not going to grow,” Bartrim said.
“It’s not about copping a big hiding, you take that on the chin, it’s about what that does to a lot of people in the competition and it takes the shine off it. At the end of the day you’re going out to have fun with your mates and once you take the fun away that’s it.”
He added that action needs to be taken “sooner rather than later”.
“Bathurst and Mudgee got on the front foot with this early on, we could see the writing on the wall,” he said.
“The zone has indicated to us that they’re going to get in contact with each club via email and get their thoughts towards the 2018 competition – to date we haven’t seen anything.
“I know clubs at this stage say they can’t give a concrete answer, they need to see who comes along, which plays a part. But I believe the zone needs to be proactive and say ‘this is the format’ so clubs can look at it and decide ‘if we push we can be in this or if we have a big drain of players we can go to that’.
“Because we want as many people playing rugby as possible – that’s what it’s about.”
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