Class of 2005

By David Krause

ROUND 10 signalled the half-way point in this year's Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition.

With any end of term comes the end of term report, so I'll put my school teacher's hat on and grade the class of 2005:

Tweed Seagulls - Outstanding, team to beat A+

Murwillumbah - Overachieving, strong team A+

Cudgen - Getting better, very talented B+

South Grafton - Enigmatic, yet to play northern sides B

Ballina - Thereabouts, will get better B

Mullumbimby - Early season premiership hangover, will improve C+

Marist Bros - Inconsistent, great expectations C

South Tweed - Only beating lower sides, will drop down ladder C

Lower Clarence - Hard to beat at home, nuisance value C

Kyogle - Disappointing, lacking depth C

Casino - Trying hard, better next year C

Grafton - Terrible, easybeats D

Byron Bay- Struggling, no depth D

Refs crackdown

GREAT to hear that referees are clamping down on foul and abusive language directed at them.

Players are being sent off and cited for this offence and two players have received suspensions as a result.

Referees should also remember that foul play such as head highs are still send-off offences, but mostly go unpunished.

By all means, refs should protect themselves, but their main concern should be player safety and stamping out foul play.

Good to also see the judiciary actually suspending people. In the past few years suspended sentences seemed to be all they could dish out ... keep up the good work.

While on referees, there is a big shortage this season.

While I tend to bag them occasionally, I do have a great understanding for what they do and the conditions they sometimes work under.

Any retired players out there who are still looking to stay involved in League, refereeing could be a great way.

Champion 18s

CONGRATULATIONS to the Northern Rivers Under-18 side on their 40-6 victory over Western Division in the final of the Country Championships last weekend.

It was the side's fourth win in a month and by all reports they saved the best till last.

As a result, six players gained selection in the NSW Country side.

The stand-out players during this campaign were Mitch Aubusson, James Rix and Harry Witt, all of whom gained Country selection, along with Clarence Kelly, Tom Court and David Baumann.

Let's hope the new Gold Coast side has seen the side's success and moves to secure some of these extremely talented players before they are lost to Sydney.

Block's bash

BALLINA Seagulls Rugby League Club is hosting a Sportsmans' Lunch featuring two real legends ? Steve Roach and Paul Sironen. It's a must for those who want to hear stories from a couple of real characters.

Make a note: Friday (July 8) from 1pm at the Ballina Leagues Club, $75 including beer, wine, lunch and a chance to hear Blocker and Sirro. Inquiries to Brad Mansfield 0414 347 989.

Junior league

Congratulations to Kyogle Junior League on their carnival last weekend. You know Rugby League is alive and well when you see that many kids, both boys and girls, running round. Another good thing is the number of helpers they had up there on the weekend, many of whose kids had long finished junior league.

Player watch

THERE have been some great performances this season by players from all over the region but some of the stand-outs so far have been:

n Cudgen and Northern Rivers fullback Craig Thurston: I don't think I've seen a quicker player off the mark than this bloke ... his five tries against Ballina last weekend says it all.

n Graham Smallwood: In a patchy Brothers side this guy has been outstanding, scoring a lot of tries and a rugged defender; carries a lot of Brothers hopes on his shoulders.

n Steve Kirkham: Leads the Murwillumbah side from the front.

n Matt Temby: Disappointing last season but playing hooker this year and has returned to top form; vital in steering Ballina round the paddock.

Goose of week

DID anyone see the tackle that ex-leaguie Lote Tiquiri got a suspension for?

I know that in rugby you have to try and use your arms in making a tackle, but please, did it warrant a suspension?

In no way was the tackle dangerous. This is the same sport that allows people to be rucked if they end up on the wrong side of the ruck.

David Campese played rugby for 20 years and never made a tackle and all of a sudden they're suspending the best player in the world for a bit of body contact.

I said I'd never bag rugby, but this is ridiculous. He'll miss a Test match due to the suspension, and even worse, Wendell Sailor may get a start, which could be dangerous.

I know I'll have all the Rah Rah people coming up to me to explain that it's the rules. If that's the case, it's a stupid rule.

So to the rugby judiciary that suspended Lote, shame on you!

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