Proposal for east-west split of league gathers pace

ARMIDALE and Glen Innes rugby league football clubs could be playing in Group 4 next season with Narrabri and Wee Waa competing in  Group 19 in a much different Northern Inland rugby league landscape.

Narrabri’s Brendan Davey charges into the West defence of Scott Hunt (left), Tom Hine (right) and Phil Beaton (bottom). Under new boundaries, Davey and his Narrabri side could be playing in Group 19 next season. Photo: Barry Smith 310814BSD38

Narrabri’s Brendan Davey charges into the West defence of Scott Hunt (left), Tom Hine (right) and Phil Beaton (bottom). Under new boundaries, Davey and his Narrabri side could be playing in Group 19 next season. Photo: Barry Smith 310814BSD38

Group 4 and Group 19 rugby league boards have met to discuss the boundary changes, with four Group 19 officials meeting with the Group 4 management committee last week to discuss the changes.

Group 19 president Mick Lewis first told of the proposed boundary changes two weeks ago in The Leader.

Talks were held between the Group 4 and 19 officials last week and Group 4 president Barry Pratten believes there is a sensible change to benefit all the clubs.

He said the initial changes would have Armidale and Glen Innes join Group 4 with Narrabri and Wee Waa going to Group 19. 

“We had a meeting with four of the Group 19 committee,”  Pratten said.

“And we have put it to the Group 4 clubs. 

“Wee Waa was the only club not  represented but it all seems fairly positive.

“We will meet about it after the grand final.”

A second string to the boundary changes is Group 19’s desire to bring back clubs into what would be a Group 19 Second Division.

“They are keen to start a second division with teams such as Tenterfield, Texas, Warialda, Guyra, Gravesend and Bingara. 

“They are towns that don’t have teams currently playing and would be in a competition with Tingha, Uralla and Ashford.

“They believe towns like Uralla might only have the one side next season and no juniors but they might all have ladies’ league tag sides.

“They are also hopeful the second division clubs might also be able to play Under 18s.”

He said the addition of Goondiwindi seems to have been a success but that had impacted on Armidale and Uralla.

“Travelling is the big killer,” he said.

“But this might be a way of helping the clubs and a step in the right direction to get more people playing rugby league.”

Lewis said Group 19’s discussion paper had been well received by Group 4 .

“It does look like it might have legs,” he said.

“But it could all hinge on having enough of the little towns to establish a second division.

“It does depend on Guyra, Warialda and Bingara re-forming.

“ They were keen at the start of the season to come back.

“But maybe not to first division – that might be too big a step. 

“Maybe having a year or two in second division to get strong again is the best way.

“I know here at Ashford we are getting stronger after two seasons but competing against the big clubs like the Boomerangs, Glen Innes, Armidale and Inverell is hard.”

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