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League’s shock loss

Tuesday, 26th February, 2019

Saints and United, shown here playing each other, have pulled out of the competition due to the lack of players and other problems. PICTURE: Michael Murphy Saints and United, shown here playing each other, have pulled out of the competition due to the lack of players and other problems. PICTURE: Michael Murphy

By Emily McInerney

Broken Hill will no longer have teams playing in the Outback Rugby League competition.

On Sunday, the Broken Hill Saints RLFC and Broken Hill United RLFC made the decision to withdraw from the 2019 ORL senior men’s comp. 

A statement from the ORL board said it was sad to see the teams disband.

“It is sad news for the league as both clubs have proud histories in the former Group 12 and the ORL,” the statement said.

“We would also like to thank club chairs Paul Kemp (Saints) and Harry Prescott (United) for the tireless work of their committees in recent seasons.”

ORL president Des Rumble said the teams had hinted at folding towards the end of last year but that he had hope they might return.

“They haven’t packed up and left. It’s a temporary situation as far as I’m concerned,” Mr Rumble said.

“Both teams will sit this year out and look into again next year.”

He said the ORL had tried to accommodate the teams by changing the games to Sunday.

“But they still couldn’t put teams up with their lack of players.”

He said the Wilcannia teams will also struggle due to the state of their oval.

“I believe the playing ground is just dust, so for health and safety reasons we wouldn’t use that ground.

“We will have to source the grounds in Broken Hill and Menindee.”

Mr Rumble said they promoted the competition and hoped that interest would pick up.

“We’ve still got the other teams, so we have the certainty of playing football games. We would like to have a full contingent.”

He said they will be working on the women’s teams and working more with the juniors.

United president Harry Prescott said had struggled to find players due to their work roster.

“We had players there but with shift work it was hard to organise teams,” Mr Prescott said.

“Our players worked on the mine, in the police force and were paramedics.

“We had been able to co-ordinate it for the last couple of years.

“But we had a big injury toll last year and all our 9 to 5 workers, of which there was a base of eight, were injured.”

Mr Prescott said some players had retired and others had been transferred.

“We haven’t had any new blood coming in.”

He said there was a discussion about combining the Saints and United teams.

“The Saints’ side is also depleted, they had a lot of roofers playing for them.

“They’re in the same boat as us.”

Now there are four teams left in the competition; two in Wilcannia and two in Menindee.

“The Eagles struggled with numbers last year,” Mr Prescott said.

“A lot of people had gone to work on the Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline.

He said it was a sorry state of affairs.

“It’s hard, it’s sad that we can’t play the game we love.

“Our biggest problem is juniors. The AFL have the jump on juniors with development programs.

“We’re so far from the east coast, we don’t get any help for that.

“I do wish the four teams the best for this year.

“We haven’t given up hope, we will work out a structure and come back next year.”

Saints president Paul Kemp said it wasn’t just about players.

“We’re struggling to get volunteers to help, we are left with a small group of people,” he said.

Mr Kemp said they struggled to get players to commit to training and the forfeit of two teams last year caused players to lose interest.

“We won’t be competing in the 2019 season competition. It’s been due to a lack of committee members, volunteers and players.”

He said the Saints had been the most successful team since the club formed in 1962.

“We’ve had the most premierships,” he said. “We celebrated 55 years in 2017 and we came back into the competition when it started up again, winning a premiership in 2008. 

“It’s sad, it’s just been out of our control.

“We tried so hard to get a side on the field. It’s been very disappointing.

“We’ve been asking for more players and trying to generate interest but people have purely lost interest.”

The ORL will hold a general meeting next week to address the problem. It will be held at the Musicians’ Club on Saturday, March 9 at 11.00am.

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