Fifteen teams, eight weeks, three pools, one winner.
A one-off, combined Western Division premiership is being floated a possible means to seeing some competitive rugby league in 2020, with the coronavirus' grip on social distancing and self isolation making it impossible for clubs across the region to take part in their regular group title races this season.
As a result, last week New South Wales Rugby League western manager Peter Clarke said if football was to return this season it'll likely be in a form we've not seen before.
Clarke called on the region's administrators to be "innovative" in their thinking to help the game.
Forbes Magpies president Matt Coleman has drafted a plan for what is essentially an expanded NAB Challenge, the competition pitting Group 10 and Group 11 premiers against each other at the end of the season.
With seven Group 11 clubs and eight Group 10 clubs, a combined competition makes for 15 sides.
Coleman's initiative breaks that pool into three groups of five teams, with geography and rivalries in mind when pooling teams together.
One of the proposed pools includes Orange CYMS, Orange Hawks, Dubbo CYMS, Dubbo Macquarie and Nyngan, with the obvious Orange and Dubbo derbies ensuring clubs still enjoy inter-town competition in 2020.
Teams play each other once - which is two homes games and two away games - in their respective pools, before the best performing sides breakaway to form a four-round knockout competition where, eventually, the last team standing wins the major prize, which has been in previous years $10,000.
Coleman conceded with current restrictions in place it's still a big unknown when football will return this season, but his proposed competition would take just eight weeks to be completed, with a potential start date in mid-July still ensuring a grand final day in September, a tradition for rugby league in the west.
The Magpies boss says the competition will give clubs a possible eight weeks of football, with a minimum of five if teams are eliminated in week one of the knockout stage.
Coleman has forwarded the idea on to Clarke and Group 11 officials, and while admits at this stage it's just "one bored publican's idea", it could prove the shining light at the end of the tunnel for clubs in the Rams region.
"There are a million things to consider and go through before such a proposal could be implemented," Coleman says in the proposal.
"It's just an idea, to not only try something different and something that's exciting for not only the players, but supporters and the general rugby league community."
Coleman believes running a Group 10 of Group 11 competition on one round and then finals would have significant impacts on clubs moving into 2021.
"Clubs are going to have significantly less funds," he said, with no gate-takings, canteens, raffles, less sponsorship dollars and less fundraising opportunities while the lockdown is in force.
... I think the main thing is to keep all clubs viable for future years.Forbes boss Matt Coleman
"And it could very well sink some great bush clubs if we're forced to play half-a-season and pay on existing contracts."
He said the Forbes club would look to renegotiate with players with the club forecast to lose money in the current COVID-19 climate.
"There plenty up in the air ... but I think the main thing is to keep all clubs viable for future years," he said.
"And I hope that we get some sort of footy in this season. But who knows at the moment."
- POOL A: Parkes, Forbes, Cowra, Lithgow, Blayney
- POOL B: Narromine, Wellington, Bathurst St Pat's, Bathurst Panthers, Mudgee
- POOL C: Dubbo CYMS, Dubbo Macquarie, Nyngan, Orange CYMS, Orange Hawks.
- Three pools of five teams, giving four competition games - two away, two home.
- First and second from the three respective pools, plus the two best performed third placed sides progress to top eight championship knockout.
- The lowest ranked third-placed team plus teams that finish fourth and fifth in their respective pools go into the cup draw.
- Cup draw, with seven teams, the highest qualifying team has the bye week one.
- Knockout stage: Eight teams in knockout format for the championship - four weeks of games. Seven teams in knockout format for the cup - four weeks of games.
- Grand final for both divisions (which will be eight games across the four grades) played over Saturday-Sunday at a town to be decided.
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