Guyra have withdrawn from the coming Group 19 junior rugby league season saying coronavirus restrictions have made training and playing too difficult.
The sport's governing body, NSW Rugby League, had been working with the NSW Office of Sport on a return to play program which saw numbers of separate training groups restricted to 20. But the club's home ground is the Armidale Regional Council-owned Guyra Sporting Complex.
This meant the club had to follow the rules in place, set out by the council.
ARC were following the Public Health Order, which was released on June 13, stating only groups of up to 20 people were permitted at a venue, rather than in separate groups as NSWRL's plan stated.
The club believed the 20 per venue at a time wasn't enough to conduct a training session with a full squad, coaches and trainers properly and came to the tough decision.
While the rules changed dramatically last week, the club said it had no warning the new Public Health Order would be released last Wednesday, when its decision was made. The competition is due to start on July 18 and Guyra felt it wouldn't be enough time to have players adequately prepared for the season and would put their welfare at risk, particularly for their new players who had not been involved with the sport before.
"With the season kicking off on July 18, and with no training under our belt, GJRL have had to take into consideration the duty of care of our players," Guyra junior rugby league president Gina Lockyer said.
"We can assure you that GJRL did have a covid plan and a covid officer in place which was approved by NSWRL to enter the competition. The health and safety of our community also played a major factor in our decision.
"The Covid pandemic has challenged each and everyone of us in some way and has left our community like many others to financial struggle along with many families still recovering from the worst drought in history.
"We did not want to add extra financial pressure or put any one at risk. I am sure for those clubs that have withdrawn from the competition, you can sympathise with me the heartache and pressure one has had to endure to finally come to the conclusion of defeat."