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ORL hope remains after clubs fold

Wednesday, 6th March, 2019

Outback Rugby League president Des Rumble Outback Rugby League president Des Rumble

By Tyler Hannigan

The door remains open for both United and Saints to rejoin the Outback Rugby League competition next year, according to league chairman Des Rumble.

Both sides informed the ORL last week that they would be unable to field teams in the upcoming 2019 season due to a lack of numbers. However, Rumble hopes that it isn’t the end for two foundation rugby league clubs of the region.

“They’re (United and Saints) both two of the older clubs, they’ve been around for a long time,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of blokes play for those sides over the years but it’s just got to the point because of work commitments and other sporting commitments that some players found it hard (to play).

“We’re still actively working with those clubs to see how we can help them return and that door to rejoining next year is still open.”

There are options that are being discussed to help those clubs return including moving when games are played to stop clashes with other sports in Broken Hill.

“Being that we play on a Saturday, our game times do conflict with other sports and that’s been an issue for them (United and Saints),” Rumble explained.

“We have said to the clubs that if we (the ORL) can change the games to a Sunday to accommodate those players then we as a League would be willing to do that.

As well as those other commitments, United especially were hurt by a number of serious injuries throughout the season but were unable to bring in other players after the June 30 cutoff. Clubs were limited to a 25-man squad after that date.

Rumble admits that the rule, which was brought in to stop players from jumping ship to more successful clubs mid-season, might have contributed to the problem for Saints and United.

“We’re looking at that (rule),” Rumble said.

“There was a couple of very valid reasons as to why we had to have a cutoff date and one of the things is if you don’t have a cutoff, you constantly have players coming and going...people would come in and if the teams didn’t win they’d jump ship and go somewhere else.

“We wanted to stem the flow of that and give everyone a chance but unfortunately in doing that it’s sort of worked the other way so we’re certainly very flexible on that and we’re looking at all those avenues for next year.

The Saints and United join Broken Hill Geebungs and the Menindee Wedge-Tail Eagles as clubs that have pulled out of the ORL competition over the past few seasons. It now leaves the ORL without a club in Broken Hill and down to just three teams in the league, although, the Eagles are reportedly optimistic of returning to the fold in 2019.

It’s a worrying trend for rugby league in the region but Rumble said that while the men’s teams are struggling, the women and juniors are coming along.

“We still have a pretty good looking ladies comp,” Rumble said.

“There are a couple of teams that have put their interest forward and done their affiliation fees (although) we have still yet to establish a (women’s) team here in Broken Hill. We’re looking to garner more interest here in Broken Hill.”

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