No merger plans

Wingham fullback Matt Bridge tries to work his way past Port City defenders in last season's Group Three minor semi-final played at Wingham.
Wingham fullback Matt Bridge tries to work his way past Port City defenders in last season's Group Three minor semi-final played at Wingham.

THERE'LL be no boundary changes on the Mid North Coast until at least the 2022 season, Group Three Rugby League chairman Wayne Bridge has confirmed.

Mr Bridge was commenting on speculation that Groups Two and Three could eventually merge.

"Under the terms of the amalgamation agreement between the Country Rugby League and the NSWRL nothing will change in regard to boundaries until at least the 2022 season,'' Mr Bridge replied.

THE NSWRL this month sent a questionnaire to the management and the clubs in both competitions to get input on a number of matters, including possible boundary changes. Mr Bridge understands there's little enthusiasm from the majority of Group Three clubs to amalgamate.

Under the current boundaries a merger would take in clubs from Forster-Tuncurry to Grafton.

"I think most of our clubs, especially those in the south, would be against going to Grafton,'' Mr Bridge said.

He agreed a competition stretching from Forster-Tuncurry to Coffs Harbour would be more viable. This could happen if the Grafton clubs went to the Northern Rivers Rugby League. Had this season gone ahead seven clubs would have contested Group Two, with eight in Group Three. Orara Valley opted not to play this season citing problems with player numbers.

"Our competition has been pretty stable now for a number of years,'' he said.

"We do have the odd season when one club might struggle with a grade - a couple have had trouble with under 18s in the last couple of years. But generally all our clubs meet commitments with teams in all four grades.''

In contrast he described Group Two as a 'bit of a basket case.'

"Some of their clubs are a year to year proposition. Bellingen/Dorrigo, Woolgoolga and Orara Valley have all had their problems and they don't all field teams in every grade,'' he said.

Mr Bridge understands that all eight Group Three clubs remain confident of returning to competition football next year. This season was scrapped amid concern among most clubs about the impact of COVID-19 restrictions. Group Two's competition also didn't proceed.