A furious Group 10 chairman Linore Zamparini has hit back at Mudgee’s suggestions the Dragons are treated like the competition’s “black sheep”, but says if the club wants to pull stunts like it did at the Bathurst Knockout then maybe they deserve the title.
Mudgee president Jared Robinson’s somewhat off the cuff remark hit a nerve with Group 10 power brokers in the lead-up to the annual pre-season knockout at Carrington Park.
The Dragons weren’t happy with the knockout’s draw, not so much who the club was playing but the scheduling of the fixtures they were handed.
With the longest trip of any club headed to Bathurst, Mudgee was drawn a Friday night game for both first division and premier league sides and if the club won both fixtures it meant a return trip to Carrington Park again on the Saturday.
Three clubs, Orange Hawks, Blayney and hosts Bathurst Panthers, didn’t draw a Friday night premier league game.
As it turns out, the Dragons knocked off Orange CYMS in the top grade and Cowra in first division to book their spots in Saturday’s second round.
Mudgee officials say the club informed Panthers prior to Friday’s games that they weren’t able to field sides for Saturday’s matches at Bathurst due to prior commitments.
But that doesn’t wash with Zamparini.
Group 10 sanctions the Bathurst knockout so it’s compulsory for clubs to attend and given Mudgee’s withdrawal from day two, Zamparini says, the board will meet to determine if a fine is necessary.
The long-running Group 10 chairman admits to being shocked when told of the Dragons’ forfeits.
“It’s very disappointing,” Zamparini said.
“(The black sheep) comments don’t sit well, either. I don’t know where they get that from.”
Zamparini said the knockout’s draw was conducted independently from the Panthers club.
He said the Mudgee club has done themselves little favours by withdrawing from the knockout at such late notice.
“If you want that (black sheep) tag, do what you did on Saturday. If that’s what they want, then they’ve got it,” he fired.
“People don’t have a lot of sympathy for them when they do that sort of thing.
“I don’t believe Group has been hard on Mudgee. (Robinson’s) comments were unfair and unfounded.”