Reason Group 2 rugby league is on shaky ground
GROUP 2 RUGBY LEAGUE: Group 2 referee stocks are at such a critical level that they have already led to a postponed match-up in the opening round of the competition.
The clash between Orara Valley Axemen and Sawtell Panthers was moved last week from Sunday to a Saturday timeslot by the Group administration in an effort to spread its referee stocks further.
As host club Sawtell had previous commitments on the Saturday, the game has been postponed until the representative round at the end of April.
According to Group 2 Referees Association secretary John Cullen, first grade games were not meant to be affected by the lack of numbers.
"We have a limited number of referees around and that has put our stocks pretty low," Cullen said.
"As a result we will split the rounds, and to play games on Saturday so referees can back up on the Sunday as well."
The decision to play across two days was in an effort to not have first grade referees backing up on the same day.
"The plan would be to have first grade referees to do their game only on the one day- to ensure they are fit and as fresh as possible," Cullen said.
"The aim is to not have them officiating twice, but already we had a top grade referee running the lines in Under 18s this weekend.
"So already that has been challenged in the opening round of the season."
Cullen believes the lack of referees in the region could be put down to a number of reasons.
"Some of our younger members have gone off to university and some are currently travelling overseas," he said. "We just have a small field compared to our usual pool of refs."
Group 2 are currently investigating several options to fix the lack of referees and will hold a meeting with Country Rugby League official Rob Bowen next week to discuss their options.
Who will win the 2016 Group 2 Rugby League First Grade Premiership?
This poll ended on 15 August 2016.
South Grafton Rebels
Coffs Harbour Comets
Nambucca Heads Roosters
Macksville Sea Eagles
Orara Valley Axemen
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
According to Cullen, the group has not ruled out "borrowing" referees from neighbouring competitions or playing games at night mid week.
At this stage, the group is expecting games to be played on Saturday most weeks but is allowing clubs to volunteer to play the off day.
"At this stage it is not mandated that clubs must play a Saturday game," Cullen said.
"Playing on Saturday is by invitation and the group hopes clubs will take up the invitation."