COUNTRY Rugby League president Jock Colley believes bush footy is “alive and well” in Orange but concedes the city must look at an improved facility before the NRL considers bringing fixtures to the area.
Colley (pictured) was on hand at Wade Park on Sunday to watch son Brent line-up in the front-row for Orange CYMS.
The Colley’s ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline in a cracking local derby major semi-final, with minor premiers Hawks victorious 12-11, but Jock Colley was still thrilled with what he saw at Wade Park.
Over 2,000 people flocked to the ground for the game, the biggest in the history of Orange rugby league.
Group 10 took $17,000 at the gate, a figure secretary Peter McDonald labelled “unbelievable” for a major semi-final.
“Most certainly Orange has gotten right behind this game,” Colley said.
He added Wade Park as a facility was quite good, but would be at long odds to host any sort of top-flight rugby league in its current state.
“I guess we’ve got to be honest and if we look ahead we’ve got to come up with a more modern venue to host these games, games like Country-City,” Colley said.
“I know the NRL is looking to bring games to the country, and I think country councils have got a responsibility, if they want that type of rugby league, to make sure they’ve got venues that can hosts those matches.”
Next year’s City-Country fixture will be played at Apex Oval, Dubbo.
It’s being billed as a watershed game for the concept after a miserable crowd of just 4,655 supported the event in Coffs Harbour this season.
Colley said Dubbo has spent in excess of $10million on upgrading Apex Oval over the last five years and the 2014 fixture was reward for such effort, with Dubbo edging Wagga Wagga for the rights to next season’s game.
Colley said Orange was never in the hunt for 2014.
“(Dubbo) has earned the right,” he added.
But the support for Sunday’s clash couldn’t be ignored.
And certainly Colley said both he and the CRL was taking notice.
“We brought a Country-City game here only a few years ago and it was a sell out, 8000 people, but in saying that, 8000 people demonstrates the fact they need a bigger facility so we can get 15,000 people,” he said.
“The people of Orange and western area will benefit from that type of patronage from councils.”