Group 10 has made the unprecedented call to abandoned plans to run senior competitions in 2020, chairman Linore Zamparini describing the decision as the toughest he's made in over a decade running the game.
Determined at a board meeting on Tuesday night, the Group 10 premier league, first division and senior league tag competitions have been shelved for this winter.
However, the under 18s and under 18s league tag title races will press on, potentially joining with clubs in Group 11 and the Castlereagh League to form a Western Rams competition.
Zamparini revealed the decision was unanimous, adding the uncertainty surrounding crowd restrictions and the COVID-19 regulations clubs would have to follow forced the board's hand.
Group 10 started in 1946 and has run a top grade premiership in the region every year since.
"These are certainly uncharted times. We've never been in this situation as a country, let alone a Group," Zamparini said.
We've sat on the fence for too long. We were promised more direction and haven't had it. We should have known on June 1 but we're still waiting.Group 10 chairman Linore Zamparini
"It was a tough decision, but one in the back of everyone's mind now for a long time.
"The amount of fans, players, people involved in the game that have been saying 'when, when, how, what do you think' ... we can only let it go on for so long. The decision had to be made and we've done that."
Zamparini said the lack of communication from the state government in regards to senior community sport has been "extremely disappointing".
#BREAKING bush footy news tonight.#Group10 has abandoned plans to run its 2020 premier league, first division and senior league tag competitions.— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) June 9, 2020
Board made the unanimous decision tonight after a meeting. #Mudgee#Bathurst#Orange#Lithgow#Cowra#Blayney@NSWRLpic.twitter.com/IzQIgfmS4c
Group 10 was postponed on March 18, and since that decision more information was going to be disseminated from upper levels of the government through the New South Wales Rugby League by June 1.
But 10 days later administrators across country NSW, like Zamparini, are still waiting, and they're now being forced to make extraordinary calls to ensure their sport and clubs survive the pandemic.
"It just felt like they never wanted to make a decision," he said referring to the lack of communication from the health authorities.
"We really haven't had anyone come forward with any information. We've sat on the fence for too long. We were promised more direction and haven't had it. We should have known on June 1 but we're still waiting."
"The year is getting away and we had to make a decision so clubs can try and regroup for next year."
Orange Hawks president Mark Johnston and his Orange CYMS counterpart Dom Maley were both disappointed there would be no senior footy in 2020, but admitted the decision was smart.
We're all involved in footy because we love it ... but it's the smart decision.Orange CYMS president Dom Maley
"The risk was starting to outweigh the reward," Maley said.
"It's disappointing. We're all involved in footy because we love it ... but it's the smart decision. It's getting closer to the proposed start date and we're no closer to any information."
Johnston said it was important junior footy like under 18s continued, and that looks like happening via a Western premiership.
"The under 18s competition is an important stepping stone into senior footy for all clubs," he said, adding the response from senior players would be mixed, though.
"There will be a few disappointed players, there's no doubting that. The most frustrating thing has been the lack of communication from department of health," Johnston said.
HAVE YOUR SAY
- Send us a letter to the editor using the form below ...