Rugby League: Group 4 clubs say no to Bundarra

Bundarra has been left in the rugby league wilderness after its application to enter teams in the Group 4 reserve-grade and ladies league tag competition was unsuccessful.

Rejected: Bundarra's hopes of back to back premierships are in tatters after their application to play in Group 4 was unsuccessful.

Rejected: Bundarra's hopes of back to back premierships are in tatters after their application to play in Group 4 was unsuccessful.

The Bears learnt their fate on Monday night following a special board meeting.

“It’s heart-breaking actually,” vice-president Gary Deaves said.

“We were financial and we were ready to go.”

Instead they find themselves preparing to “fold up for the season”.

The club only reformed two years ago after a 20-year hiatus, and stunningly won the Group 4 Second Division premiership last season.

Group 4 wouldn’t elaborate on the reasons, stating in an email sent out to media that the Group 4 Rugby League Board of Directors would not be making any further comment on either Walcha (which was successful) or Bundarra’s application to play in Group 4 in 2018.

Deaves said they were told it was because the other clubs “didn’t want us in there”.

“They said they put it to a vote,” he said.

The news that they hadn’t been accepted admittedly came as a surprise. Deaves said they had spoken to a lot of the clubs and “they were all keen for us to come back”.

The Bears were to state their case to be part of Group 4 at the Group’s general meeting held earlier this month at Gunnedah. But their application was deemed null and void because their paperwork wasn’t in order.

Falling into Group 19’s boundaries, the Bears were to be part of its new six-team Second Division competition but, citing concerns over the viability of that competition and the desire to play in a stronger competition, opted instead to seek entry into Group 4.

Group 19 president Terry Carson said on Tuesday the Group would consider any application from the Bears.

“We will look at them coming back to Group 19 and it would take the bye out of the Second Division comp,” he said.

“But at the end of the day it will have to go to a vote and the way they have treated us I couldn't be sure they'll be voted in. They would have to put a good proposal forward.”

But Deaves said on Tuesday the club wouldn’t be applying to be part of Group 19, or exploring any other options.

It leaves the players facing the prospect of no football at all or finding alternative teams to play for.

“Most of them have got nowhere to play, they’re just going to sit it out or go to rugby union,” Deaves said.

Whether the Bears absence is only for the season or longer remains to be seen. Deaves is optimistic the Bears will growl again.

“You start to build a club and this happens to you and it’s just very hard to build it again,” he said.