NRRRL 2011 1st grand final between Ghosts and Mustangs at McGuren Park Grafton on Sunday.
NRRRL 2011 1st grand final between Ghosts and Mustangs at McGuren Park Grafton on Sunday. Debrah Novak

NRRRL to split

THREE Northern Rivers Rugby League (NRRRL) teams, including the beaten grand finalists Murwillumbah Mustangs, have threatened to leave the competition and play on the Gold Coast next season.

The clubs from the Tweed area, Murwillumbah, Cudgen and Tweed Raiders, had put forward a proposal to the NRRRL management committee to revamp the current competition.

Their proposal was to divide the competition into Northern and Southern conferences with the four top teams from each conference contesting a finals series, to avoid the current situation which involves lengthy travel times for away games.

However, at the NRRRL management meeting at Lismore on Monday night, their proposal was rejected by the other 11 clubs within the Group.

Country Rugby League's Northern Rivers delegate Kevin Hill put forward a similar proposal at the meeting with the clubs given until October 19 to make a decision.

According to delegates from the three Tweed-based clubs, travel times and costs were their main issue with the current system.

Also the ability to attract larger crowds due to more local derbies was raised.

"Our proposal was quickly rejected by the other clubs but at least they are giving serious consideration to the CRL proposal," Cudgen Leagues president Graham Lawrence said.

The CRL blueprint involves dividing the competition into two clusters, with clubs within each cluster playing each other twice.

This will then be preceded with a round of matches against teams in the other cluster.

At the meeting, NRRRL president Brian Rix suggested the three Tweed clubs had already opened negotiations with the Gold Coast Rugby League, which was denied by Lawrence.

However, Lawrence indicated Cudgen, Murwillumbah and Tweed Coast "could not entirely rule out" a move away from the NRRRL if their concerns were not met.

Also at the meeting, it was recommended an under-19 competition replace the current under-18 fixtures with a 10-a-side under-17 competition introduced to provide a stepping stone to reserve and first grade.

Grafton Ghosts president Michael Rogan said he was happy to see the format of the competition remain the same.

"From a Ghosts' perspective, travelling is not a huge issue. After all, we've been doing it for years," Rogan said.

"I suggested having the games with the longest distance to travel early in the season and play the teams in your own conference at the end of the season.

"I just hope they (NRRRL) commit to a draw soon, as long as the travel is evenly distributed."

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