SOUTH Grafton will officially have their beloved Rebels rugby league club back next season after the Grafton Rhinos committee yesterday decided unanimously to go back to being the Rebels in a bid to "re-invigorate passion for rugby league" in the town.
Rhinos president Tony Stackhouse has outlined a plan of action to return the South Grafton Club to its glory days by creating stronger ties with the existing Rebels junior league club and building on the almost 100 year tradition of the club.
"The Rebels are back," Stackhouse said.
"We are going to return the Rebels to being a formidable force in rugby league and are hoping to address a general lack of passion for the sport in South Grafton."
Five years ago the South Grafton Rebels dissolved to make way for the Grafton City Rhinos, who at the time were looking to unite rugby league in a town that has been as spiritually divided by club rivalry as it has been geographically split by the river.
But the change left the traditional supporters of the South Grafton club feeling disenfranchised, highlighted this season by the absence of a first-grade side in the NRRRL competition.
"We are going to build a greater association between the junior and senior committees to form the new club, relocate the juniors to McKittrick Park and generally try and get rugby league supporters in South Grafton behind the one club," Stackhouse said.
"Now is the time for all those who have been calling for the return of the Rebels to step up and get involved with the club.
"We are holding a AGM on October 14 where all positions will be open for nominations and if the enthusiasm shown at (yesterday's) meeting is anything to go by, then the Rebels will be back bigger and better than ever."
Attendees at yesterday's meeting included local businessmen, hoteliers and representatives from the South Grafton clubs.
"It was absolutely unanimous that we go back to being called the Rebels," Stackhouse said.
"There are a number of people we have nominated as contacts for those wishing to join us in re-building the Rebels and rugby league in South Grafton and we are encouraging everyone to get involved.
"Beside the big positions like president or secretary, we need the support of others to help run raffles, barbecues, chase up sponsorships and help with all the general match-day running of the club.
"It's an exciting time and the enthusiasm for the move that has been shown already is very encouraging."
People wishing to hear more about the re-formation of the Rebels can contact Tony Stackhouse on 0412 962 703, Ken Upton (0418 233 337), Ray Taunton (0498 468 915) or Eddie De Bono (0407 865 811).