As Group 19 president Terry Carson acknowledged big changes were needed to better accommodate their second division competition, the Inverell Hawks held a season wind-up meeting on Wednesday night to salvage what they could from not being able to field an A-grade team.
Carson had said it was now clear the second division had hit Inverell the hardest, but was not going to effect the Moree and Armidale clubs at all. He thought sitting out a year could sometimes help a club rebuild.
"[It] may be the case for them, who knows? I know they struggled big time to get a committee together, so ..."
"We wanted to work with them and get something going, but I think they've just made the call."
Carson thought while players returning to second grade in their home towns was part of the Hawks' problem, there were also players who simply did not want to play for the club.
Hawks secretary Stephen Hamilton, however, said he did not know where Carson got that idea from.
"If you check the registration of those players you'll find their postcodes are 2360, which is Inverell and we didn't struggle to form a committee. We had a committee in place and just needed someone to stand up as a president which Steve Constable did for us," Hamilton said.
He also stated that Group 19 wanted to work with us. Well, we haven't heard from them.Stephen Hamilton
"He also stated that Group 19 wanted to work with us. Well, we haven't heard from them. I made a phone call to Terry Carson three weeks ago as a courtesy call to advise him that we were struggling for senior players. We never received a follow up call from them."
Hamilton said the club had never received an offer from Group 19 to play in first division with reserve grade, juniors and League Tag, and Carson admitted there was a breakdown in communications due to crossed and missed calls. He said after the Hawks pulled out of this year's competition the group did not pursue the offer.
He said the second division had not turned out how it was originally envisaged.
"The second division has got out of hand," Hamilton said.
"It was to be more a social competition. A pub competition for players who weren't keen to play, or didn't have the ability to play, in a first-grade competition.
"But now, you've got second division clubs poaching first division players and paying them, and it's stuffed the whole concept of what second division was all about in the first place."
Carson thought a review was in order.
"We're just going to have to look at what the actual rules are about it and just be tough for what we want for it and what's best for the competition in the long run," he said.
"We can't change the rules at this stage. We're three weeks out and we've got to go through AGMs and what not."
While the issue about second grade players being paid to play is a hot one, Carson said there was no rule against it.
"Obviously it's something that you're not meant to get paid, but we all know it does happen, but it's a bit hard to control it," he said.
Carson said he was trying to get clarification from the CRL about team numbers required to maintain a group's status.
"There used to be a rule that you used to have to have six A-grade sides," he said.
"I won't even speculate about next year. Who knows what the competition's going to look like."