Netball club takes on 'contact' sport

IF you happen to be on the sidelines of the Clarence Valley's netball courts, do not be alarmed when you notice some of the players bearing the colours of the Grafton Rhinos Rugby League Club.

The Rhinos league club and the newly-named Grafton Rhinos Netball Club have joined forces in a 'win-win' relationship aimed at fostering the best interests of both sports.

“It will give them an extra name out there and they will help us with sponsorship,” Rhinos netball club official Sandra Hastings said.

“It will advantage both clubs at the end of the day.”

The relationship between the league club and the former URB netball club blossomed after contact about sponsorship was made between the two sporting organisations.

“One of the mums who plays netball was discussing the idea,” Hastings said.

“The Rhinos contacted me and things gradually began to happen through conversations between the clubs.”

One of the larger netball clubs in the local competition, Hastings said the club had adopted the Rhinos name and will don the purple and gold colour scheme in competitive matches.

“Last year we had about 20 teams ... and we've picked up two new teams,” she said.

“Our uniforms used to be purple and green but now it will be purple and gold, so it's not a big change.

“(But) it will take about two years to change all the uniforms over.”

Rhinos league club spokesperson Shane Osborne said the partnership opened a new market for the league club, which in turn, would help the netball club financially.

“I think it's a win-win situation,” he said.

“We will be able to expand our brand and hopefully get more supporters.

“Ultimately, through our profile, we will be able to reduce the running cost of the (netball) club.”

Two sporting clubs running under the one banner is not a contemporary idea, but the combination of a league and netball club throws together an unlikely alliance.

“It happens a lot in small bush towns,” Osborne said. “When I was living out in Bathurst, league clubs would have netball clubs and cricket clubs.”

The partnership will allow both clubs to expand their fundraising opportunities, gain new sponsors and help raise the profile of both netball and league within the community.

“Netball doesn't get the profile of league in the Clarence Valley,” Osborne said.

“Hopefully our club can raise that profile.”

Hastings said the union would also create a 'bigger base of helpers' for both clubs to call upon.

“A lot of the girls will be keen to help out with their fundraisers,” she said.

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