Charity begins at home
IT WAS only mid-morning but a bottle of bubbly was popped and Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League launched the inaugural Ballina RSL Club Charity Shield.
For the first time, all 14 NRRRL clubs will play in a structured pre-season competition with $10,000 up for grabs.
Yesterday, officials from the NRRRL and Ballina RSL along with representatives from each club and aligned charities, Rainbow Dragons Abreast and Men of League, gathered at the Richmond River to support the birth of the Charity Shield.
It will bring an early start to serious rugby league on the Northern Rivers.
“All clubs have been in support of the Charity Shield and they will all come out firing in a bid to get off to a good start to the year,” NRRRL vice-president Brian Rix said.
“This competition gives all the clubs a chance to get some cash in the bank before the season begins.”
Clubs will be split into North and South divisions, with each club to play two preliminary games.
The club with the highest aggregate score from either division after two rounds will have the right to host the finals on April 18.
On that day, four games will be played – the final between the host club and best-performed club from the other division and a play-off for third place in first grade and Under-18s.
The host club will receive no prizemoney as it will have the monetary advantage of hosting a full day of rugby league.
The cash will be split between the remaining clubs on a sliding scale relative to performances in the Charity Shield.
Garry Anderson, club president of last season’s premiers, Lower Clarence, believes the format gives incentive for all clubs to jump on board.
“It’s a great set-up; all clubs will be rewarded with some cash and a couple will be provided a nice windfall leading into the season,” Anderson said.
“My estimate is that the club that finishes on top after two rounds has the chance to make upwards of $10,000 when they host the finals.”
The Charity Shield will kick off with the first round on March 28. There will be a week off for Easter, the second round will be played on April 10 and 11, and then the money will go up for grabs on April 18.
The NRRRL will hold a premiership season launch, Supper with the Stars, at the Ballina RSL Club on April 23, with former rugby league great John Peard as special guest.