Second division comp future in doubt

By ADRIAN MILLER sport@northernstar.com.au HE oldest trophy in NSW Country Rugby League won't be played for this year.

The Timber Cup, which Group One second division clubs have contested since about 1918, won't be on the line after the competition was forced into hibernation.

Lennox Head, Evans Head, Coraki and Tabulam played in second division last year and the season was to have started last month with Wardell re-entering after two years out.

However, Coraki did not nominate a team and Wardell were unable to come up with the numbers, leaving too few teams for a viable competition.

A breakdown of communication between the clubs and the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League, which administers the comp, is believed to have been one of the reasons for second division folding.

Lennox Head committee member Yvette Bowen blamed the NRRRL for the failure.

"There was a complete lack of interest on the group's part," she said.

"I was the one who did everything ? contacted everyone, held meetings with the second division clubs, did the draw ? but it's not a money spinner for them (the NRRRL) so they're not interested."

But NRRRL secretary Doug Harrison refuted those claims.

"I get very cranky when people say we've left them in the dark because it's totally incorrect," he said.

"We may not have separate meetings but through our business of dealing with the NRRRL the second division is discussed."

Harrison described the competition as producing some 'bloody good football' and said the NRRRL would fully back its resurrection next year.

But Evans Head committee member Greg Fletcher says it might not survive that long.

"Now that it's gone it's going to be hard to get back up," he said. "It will be disappointing for those guys who are getting towards the end of their careers; this will finish them.

"And there will be a host of young blokes go off and play with other clubs and whether we can get them back is another thing."

Rugby union will also make an impact, with the FNC village competition ? with teams at Byron Bay, Bangalow, Kyogle and Mallanganee ? taking potential players.

The second division competition has had a chequered past ? Wardell were suspended for two seasons in 2004 after continued crowd trouble ? but no-one can argue its popularity in the smaller towns.

More than 400 people turned up to the grand final at Evans Head last year, which was won by Tabulam.

"A few years ago we had eight teams and more applying to get in," Fletcher said.

"Bangalow, Yamba, Lismore and Mid-Richmond all had teams. It's a bit of fun and not as serious for the little towns." Bowen said they would continue to fight to re-establish the competition and were hopeful of playing at least a few games this year.

"We won't be giving up because we owe it to our players and supporters," she said.



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