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AN OVERWHELMING majority of Group 20 clubs have welcomed the move to admit Hay to the competition next year.
In a poll conducted this week of all of the Group 20 clubs by The Area News, the consensus was that the move to allow the Magpies to swap from Group 17 to Group 20 was a positive one to ensure the game’s future in the area.
The most common thread among all the clubs was that the move was essential to keep Hay’s talented juniors in the sport.
The club is known for its strength up to under 14s, but due to the fact Group 17 had no junior competition, those players were forced to switch clubs, or even give up rugby league.
All of the clubs were aware that the decision would not reap immediate rewards either.
At the weekend Group 20 voted for Hay to enter next year’s competition with a reserve grade and under 16s side, and will build up to four sides by 2010.
Country Rugby League is expected to green-light the proposal next week.
“We need a bit of patience, but I suppose we just have to wait and see,” Black and Whites president Joe Sergi said.
While the decision to shore up the region’s junior numbers was also praised by Waratah Tigers president Rob Donovan, he added it would not be problem free.
Donovan said the move could “open up a can of worms” with other clubs of similar size to Hay turning to Group 20 for inclusion.
“Hillston, Rankins Springs and Euabalong all have two teams so they might be saying, ‘well, why can’t we join the comp’,” Donovan said.
“I think it’s a good idea, but they should have sat down and thought through it a little more.”
Hay president Don Payne said the decision was imperative in assuring the future of the Hay Magpies, and also said the town had thrown its collective weight behind the proposal.
“In three to four years the Hay Magpies would have folded but now Group 20 has opened the gate for the club,” Payne said
A staunch opponent to the move, West Wyalong again voiced its anger at the inclusion of Hay with president Paul Robertson labelling the decision as “stupid”.
“We wanted to get out before but we want to get out even more now,” Robertson said.
- What the clubs say
- Black and Whites president Joe Sergi
“We’ve got to try and support rugby league … and Hay can only improve that.”
- Yenda Secretary Sam Panarello
“It was good to see Hay admitted to the comp as our club has history with Hay.”
- Waratah Tigers president Rob Donovan
“Hay is a good concept … it’s the best thing they could have done for their football.”
- Leeton president John McDonnell
“The group has to nurture rugby league.”
- Yanco-Wamoon president Mark Sanderson
“It’s a great thing for rugby league.”
- Darlington Point-Coleambally president Pat Mitchell
“It’s a good thing for the game and long-term they can support four teams.”
- West Wyalong president Paul Robertson
- Tullibigeal Lakes-United coach John Hately
“I think in the long run it’s got to be a goer if football is going to survive.”