THE annual Jack Woolaston nines competition has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
A total of 16 teams were expected to compete in the tournament hosted by the North Tamworth Bears.
However, after a meeting with NSW Rugby League (NSWRL), Bears president Jodie Cooper said the event would no longer be going ahead.
"It is a bit of a shame, especially for Jack because it was his baby, but we have to do the right thing," Cooper told the Leader.
"We have a duty of care, not just to the players but all of their families as well.
"No one wants to spread this thing, so the right thing to do is for the event not to go ahead."
The decision comes after the federal government's provision against crowd gatherings of more than 500 people and the NRL's decision to play all future games behind closed doors.
"By the time you add up the amount of players, referees and support staff, we would have gone close to 500 people," Cooper said.
"There wasn't really any conversation regarding playing without a crowd, because it was agreed cancelling the event was the right thing to do."
Cooper said the cancellations meant there would be "no footy until the start of the season on May 2-3".
"At this stage, all trial matches, the ladies league tag knockout tournament in Boggabri and things like that, will be called off," he said.
"Round 1 still looks like it will go ahead, but this is a rapidly-changing situation, so who knows where we will be by then."
The event's cancellation comes less than a day after the announcement the Super Rugby clash between the Waratahs and Bulls at Scully Park was cancelled.
The fate of the May 9 NRL clash between the Wests Tigers and Canberra Raiders at Scully Park remains up in the air.
Tamworth Regional Council sports and recreation manager Paul Kelly said the council was doing all it could to have the events rescheduled.
"It is important to understand the council doesn't run these events that sports and committees do," Kelly said.
"We will be working very closely with the organisers in the coming months to work out if these events can be rescheduled, because we certainly don't want to loose them.
"It is an absolute reality that we could have local sport cancelled."