Players need to commit: Rumble
Wednesday, 3rd April, 2019
By Tyler Hannigan
The Outback Rugby League (ORL) is set to go ahead in 2019 and the League is putting a call out to all interested players to register for the clubs nominated.
Four clubs - Menindee Wedge-Tailed Eagles, Menindee Yabbies, Parntu Warriors Wilcannia and defending premiers Wilcannia Boomerangs - have nominated to participate in the 2019 Musicians Club Outback Rugby League Senior Premiership.
Parntu’s involvement was on shaky ground after the club failed to attend a general meeting earlier this month but have since got their affairs in order and nominated for the season.
The Warriors most recently won the competition back in 2016.
ORL board members will meet with clubs in a phone link-up on Thursday, April 4, to discuss preparations for the upcoming season which is due to commence on Saturday, April 27 at Wilcannia’s Burke Oval.
It has been a difficult off-season for the ORL following the withdrawal of both the Saints and United from the 2019 competition.
Both Broken Hill clubs have a rich history and have achieved success including the Saints winning the premiership as recently as 2017.
The clubs cited a lack of players and volunteers as the main cause of their withdrawals.
With the Geebungs having folded in 2017, Broken Hill is now without any representation in the ORL.
That news has expectedly affected morale and confidence within the ORL community. However, ORL Chairman Des Rumble said the future of 2019 is now in the hands of local players and people keen to play the sport and see the league survive must commit now.
“Simply, we only need players to join the four available clubs and we will have an operational competition for season 2019,” Rumble said.
Rumble believes the key goal for 2019 is keeping senior rugby league alive in the Outback so a re-build can commence in 2020.
“The sport of rugby league is so important for people of the Far West, particularly our Indigenous population,” he said.
“It is a key part of winter and gives many people a sense of purpose and focus. We will do whatever we can to keep rugby league alive in Broken Hill, Menindee and Wilcannia.
“It’s difficult to re-start something once it stops, so our message is sign-up now so we can provide a league.”
Rumble and the ORL believe a key part of keeping the sport alive in the far west is flexibility and a focus on juniors.
The absence of a National Rugby League development officer since 2015 and a dedicated full-time staffer from either Country Rugby League or the NRL from October 2016 has affected momentum in the code, particularly juniors transitioning to seniors.
Small progress started last year when six junior gala days were held and this year a plan was formulated to integrate the 2019 junior and senior men’s draws.
Fortnightly junior events starting on Sunday, May 5 have been scheduled for 2019. Sunday morning and Saturday afternoon timeslots are being used to open the sport up to children in Broken Hill.
Heather Smith (PCYC Broken Hill) also has designs to band youthful volunteers together to create some sides in the silver city to tackle Menindee Yabbies’ strong junior production line and the talented youth at Wilcannia.
Broken Hill sign-on days for juniors will be held on Monday, April 8 (Lamb Oval, 5.00pm) and Thursday, April 11 (PCYC, 5.00pm).
One major positive has been the Broken Hill League Tag program under the tutelage of Michael Thornberry that has 40-plus kids between five and 14 playing non-contact football over a six-week period in March and April. Phase two of that program will be held in October and November, 2019.
For more information please contact Des Rumble (Chairman, Outback Rugby League) on 0498 617 412 or Dallas Reeves (Far West Competitions Support, Country Rugby League) on 0418 811 483.