Could Luke Welch of the South Grafton Rebels and Rhys Nelson of the Grafton Redmen join forces in an Upper versus Lower Clarence River cross-code clash later this year?
Could Luke Welch of the South Grafton Rebels and Rhys Nelson of the Grafton Redmen join forces in an Upper versus Lower Clarence River cross-code clash later this year?

FROM THE GRANDSTAND: Clarence footy clubs invest in big idea

IN RECENT weeks there has been a lot of talk about the possibility of an international game between Mal Meninga's Kangaroos and the All Blacks.

It's aimed at December this year after the premierships and Origin matches are finished.

Now I'm not sure whether it's a revenue raiser or simply something to take the place of the Kangaroos' cancelled tour of Britain. Some critics will say that it will be no more than a gimmick. I disagree.

To see some of the best footballers in Australasia on the field at one time would be a plus. Their athleticism and skills would be on display for all to see. TV Ratings would soar.

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However, my idea is that the local area could jump the gun and steal all the thunder by having a few games in our own backyard.

The match will be a 14-a-side contest. Picture: AAP/David Rowland
The match will be a 14-a-side contest. Picture: AAP/David Rowland

Local footballers of both codes and indeed the general public, are starved of some footy and would turn out for sure.

Many of the players themselves dabble in the other code anyway so would not be unfamiliar of the rules. What I know of the rules discussed so far are as follows:

• There would be 14 players on the field;

• There would be no lineouts;

• There would be uncontested scrums (as in rugby league) but no 'play the ball';

• A ruck would be formed over the player when tackled and he must release the ball immediately;

• There would be only eight consecutive phases of play (including pick and drive) in which to score;

• Goal line dropouts will be part of the play.

Another reason to chase this 'dream' would be to formally christen some new footy fields. Iluka has a new field and could start the series. We could then go to Yamba's new field and if a decider was needed we could go to Grafton.

Rugby union players from Iluka Cossacks and Yamba Buccaneers will be invited to play in a cross-code challenge under Col Hennessy's plan to pre-empt the international fixture between rugby league powerhouses the Kangaroos and rugby union mainstays the All Blacks.
Rugby union players from Iluka Cossacks and Yamba Buccaneers will be invited to play in a cross-code challenge under Col Hennessy's plan to pre-empt the international fixture between rugby league powerhouses the Kangaroos and rugby union mainstays the All Blacks. Graham Mackie

I would see this as a fundraiser as well. The Rural Fire Service come to mind given all their work six months ago. I am confident I could attract a naming sponsor for each venue.

Players would have to nominate and show some commitment by paying a $10 nomination fee, otherwise all and sundry will just turn up on the day and want to play. I would anticipate at least one or two training sessions.

I have already spoken to two highly regarded coaches who have put their hand up and expressed interest. Col Speed has an impeccable background in league but has recently taken an interest as a backs coach further south for a union side.

Tony Wiseman had a background in league but has taken the Iluka Cossacks to a union premiership in recent years. Good people and well suited I believe.

Peter Campbell from Yamba has agreed to referee the match and his big match experience will be appreciated.

I would join the three of them to decide who plays in what team to ensure there is balance in a whole range of areas - experience, skill set, combinations and positions play.

I do want to see it be simply a leaguies versus union but perhaps a Lower (Buccaneers, Magpies and Cossacks) versus Upper River (Ghosts, Redmen and Rebels) could be an option? Over to you boys to express interest. Stay tuned.

Have your say on Col's proposed concept on the Clarence Valley Sports Hub Facebook page or by email to sport@dailyexaminer.com.au



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