Jordan Walker in action for the Yamba Buccaneers against Bangalow at Yamba Park last season. The Buccaneers have been told they must step up to the first grade this year. Photo: Debrah Novak/The Daily Examiner
Jordan Walker in action for the Yamba Buccaneers against Bangalow at Yamba Park last season. The Buccaneers have been told they must step up to the first grade this year. Photo: Debrah Novak/The Daily Examiner

Buccaneers told by union they must play first grade

THE future of the Yamba Buccaneers will lie in first grade after Far North Coast Rugby Union confirmed the decision to move up in grade was final.

Yamba was informed of the move to first grade earlier this year, but the club has battled with the FNCRU in an effort to remain in the President's Cup.

All avenues of appeal appear to have been exhausted however, as FNCRU president Graham Cook said it was the end result.

"We had a meeting with the clubs two weeks ago and this was one of the items on the agenda," Cook said.

"The decision was put to a vote across the clubs with the end result that Yamba, Byron Bay and Bungalow would all step up."

It leaves the Buccaneers in an all-or-nothing situation, with player numbers likely to determine whether Yamba Oval will see any local rugby this year.

Cook said the FNCRU bore no responsibility over whether the clubs competed, saying it was now in their hands.

"Yamba have shown they are a competitive club in recent seasons," Cook said.

"The chance to play in first grade is something every player wants.

"There is an opportunity to recruit good quality players who want a shot in first grade like Byron and Bangalow have already done."

There would be no sympathy from NSW Country Rugby Union who restated its position in the matter was not to get involved in the first place.

NSWCRU executive officer Terry Woodward said the final decision on which grade a club would play was in the hands of the zone - in this case the FNCRU.

"Yamba have come to us and we told them the same thing," Woodward said.

"NSW Country Rugby do not get involved in these issues. Our only issue is to ensure governance is done correctly and they follow the rules and laws of rugby.

"We have 122 clubs across nine zones to look after so we do not make any decision on these matters.

"The same thing applied to South West Rocks in the Mid North Coast competition."

South West Rocks Gaolers made headlines in the Macleay Valley for narrowly losing the grand final in 2012.

It also marked the Gaolers' final appearance in the Mid North Coast Rugby Union, with a move to the rugby league competition forced on the club because of a lack of players.

The cases are remarkably similar, with both teams experiencing player losses, and not having enough under-19 players to make the step up.

Whether the Buccaneers future remains in rugby league is purely speculation, they have a month to get a competitive first grade team together. If they fail to do that, Cook said there would be no leniency on the part of FNCRU.

"The rugby bodies at a higher level have said it is not something they wish to get involved with," Cook said.

"I believe a move to first grade could make the club stronger as it gives them the opportunity to attract a better quality of players.

"If they can not field a first grade team they can't play in the 2013 season."



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