Rivals? war of words

By ADRIAN MILLER

MULLUMBIMBY and Byron Bay rugby league clubs have always had an intense rivalry on and off the field, but the relationship has soured further after the events of the past few weeks.

The sides were due to meet today in the sixth round of the Retravision Northern League but after a communication breakdown ? or flat-out skulduggery, depending on your viewpoint ? the game will not go ahead.

Although the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League management committee has ruled it's a deferred game, even that is under question.

Mullum believe Byron Bay has forfeited, while the Red Devils believe they will have an opportunity to play it later in the season. However, no-one will know exactly what will happen until an NRRRL management committee meeting early next week.

Each club has a different view on what caused the problem, but it stemmed from Byron Bay's refusal to play the match tonight.

Mullum play all their home games on Saturday nights, because they make the club thousands more dollars, and according to president Scott Hogan they contacted Byron Bay a little over a month ago to confirm the fixture.

Hogan said they believed the fixture had been given the go-ahead and went about planning for the game, which at the start of the year they designated as their sponsors' night Hogan said it wasn't until recently they found out Byron Bay were refusing to play. ] "We're very disappointed," he said.

"To think they don't have the toughness to play us on Saturday night; it doesn't say much for what their coach thinks of their football team.

"We played them in a trial at the start of year and we beat them, and the story goes a few clubs won't play us on Saturdays because they think we get too much advantage." Byron Bay secretary Dave Garced said his club did not agree to the night game because they had 16 players unavailable and they told Mullum that more than a month ago.

"Our president came down and spoke to our committee, me, the players, and we knew we had players unavailable," he said.

"Our response was we wouldn't play the game that Saturday night; that was five weeks ago. They have taken it upon themselves to ignore that ? at no time did we agree to play a night game."

Garced said the decision had nothing to do with not wanting to play on Saturday nights.

"We played them at night the past four times at Mullum and the first time we ask for the game to be on a Sunday they have a problem with it," he said.

"This is the first time we've declined and they carry on like you wouldn't believe."

The NRRRL management committee will make a final decision early next week, but it is unlikely both clubs will be placated.

While the clubs disagree on what led to the problems and whether they will be happy with the final decision, they do agree it's a disappointing outcome.

Hogan: "Everyone loves playing Byron and it would have been a great night to appreciate our sponsors."

Garced: "Everyone is disappointed that we didn't have a game because we were looking forward to it as much as they were."



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