The 2020 Blowes Clothing Cup has received a major blow before a ball has been kicked, with the Cowra Eagles withdrawing from this year's shortened premiership race.
Eagles president Ian Robertson confirmed the news in a statement on the club's Facebook page, saying the Cowra players had agreed to the move.
Robertson predicted the Eagles won't be the only club to abandon plans to play in 2020 either.
The Eagles shock comes just a few days out from a Central West Rugby Union-wide meeting on June 26, where it's expected CEO Matt Tink will be able to provide more concrete detail on what's expected of clubs, and in turn clubs can give an indication of their commitment for the upcoming season.
The Blowes Clothing Cup can ill afford to lose another club, with Cowra's absence meaning, if the premiership were to remain as was the case in 2019, the Bathurst Bulldogs, Dubbo Roos, Forbes Platypi and Orange clubs Emus and City are the only teams to contest the title race.
Robertson said he informed CWRU president John Maynard of the club's decision on Monday morning following a Sunday night meeting in Cowra.
If I was a betting man, we may not be the last, many clubs have very similar sentiments.Cowra Eagles president Ian Robertson
"The decision of the players not to compete has come after some extensive consultation and discussion within the club," Robertson said in the statement.
"To prevent any players feeling isolated from the rest of the club, individuals were at their own volition allowed to decide whether to play or to sit out the proposed 2020 competition.
"The residual of the playing group who wanted to play met on Sunday night and after a long discussion decided that the best decision for the club was not to participate this season."
Robertson said the major issues for the Eagles heading into 2020 were the later than normal start and finish to the season.
He said the impacts already felt by families and the work environment from COVID-19 crisis was another issue, while players safety was also paramount.
He said if the Eagles were to play, some players would need to switch positions, often into areas of the field they had never played before, especially the front row.
"I would say that following the meeting, whilst disappointed there was a distinct mood of relief that a decision had been made," he added.
"Central West have given clubs assurances that any decision in 2020 will not impact on their acceptance into the Blowes Cup in 2021.
"If I was a betting man, we may not be the last, many clubs have very similar sentiments."
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