GROUP 10 has thrown the beleaguered Blackheath club a lifeline that could see the Blackcats return in time for the 2014 season.
Originally thrown out of the competition after nominating for just three of four grades and failing to attend the Group 10 annual general meeting in November, Blackheath now has a strict set of guidelines the game’s officials want the club to follow.
Those conditions include improved ground conditions at Don Bradman Oval, Blackheath, better crowd control, an improved junior base and a premier league side by the start of the 2016 competition.
Blackheath have until March 1 to prove these guidelines are on the way to being met.
Group 10 is pushing for a written agreement from Blackheath, but it’s likely the nine clubs currently beginning pre-season training across the group will have the final say on the Blackcats re-entry at a soon-to-be determined meeting.
Following consultation with Country Rugby League officials during the week, Group 10 president Linore Zamparini was hopeful the Blackcats would be given the opportunity to play.
“It still has to be agreed on by all the clubs though,” Zamparini said.
“At the end of the day they’ve got the three teams - the girls, 18s and reserve grade - and we’d like to see some assurances there is junior development and they’ll have a fourth side by 2016.”
The biggest point of conjecture is the club’s home ground.
Zamparini said there was a procedure set down by both Group 10 and Country Rugby League specifying the playing area must be fenced off while working with local council was a priority to ensure the synthetic cricket wicket in the centre of the ground was virtually non-existant when the season comes around.
A player and referee race from the change rooms to the field is also required.
Zamparini admitted the current standard of Blackheath’s field was of some concern, but he was hopeful the club would be able to meet the requirement set down by Group 10.
“There’s always Katoomba as well,” he said.
“That’s not our preference, Blackheath would have to weigh up whether or not they can afford to go there, but there’s a ready-made ground in Katoomba.”
Blackheath re-entering the competition wouldn’t cause any of the draws to be changed, with the Blackcats’ inclusion removing the bye from the women’s league tag, under 18s and first division competitions.
The bye in premier league will remain.