Central North’s Cockatoos hopefuls will have to find another avenue to Country selection with the Kookaburras to be conspicuously absent from this year’s Country Championships.
The zone won’t be fielding an open men’s or colts side at the April tournament to be played at Warren.
The Kookaburras boast a rich representative history having lifted the Caldwell Cup – the symbol of Country Rugby supremacy – on nine occasions, and provided countless Cockatoos over the years.
President Tony Byrnes said the decision didn’t have anything to do with the recently-scrapped combined competition with New England – the two zones were still set to play as separate entities – rather attributing it to a lack of interest from players.
Scheduled to play Darling Downs for the Border Cup in a few weeks time, they didn’t have a coach either.
“We had no-one put their hands up to want to play representative rugby.
“They just want to play for their club,” he said.
It’s not an issue isolated to this year. They’ve been struggling for numbers for probably the last five years, Byrnes said.
He stressed that they will still have women’s representation in the sevens and 15s competitions, and will try to help find opportunities for those who are keen to still play representative rugby.
The championships double as a selection trial for the Country sides.
Byrnes indicated that there are some changes on the horizon as far as the format that might provide a more attractive platform for people who are aspiring to play higher levels of rugby.
And it will give the zone more resources to put into their juniors.
“It’s not the end of the world. We can now concentrate on our domestic competition,” he said.
“We’ve got a draw approved.”
The draw was ratified at Sunday’s pre-season meeting at Barraba.
Following Tamworth’s departure and the disbandment of the proposed joint competition, the competition will revert back to a two round home and away format with a four-team finals series.
It is scheduled to kick-off on April 7 and will be supported by a women’s and colts competition.
The finals series is set to get underway on August 25 with the champions to be decided on September 15.