Gold Coast Rugby League to blame for dispute
AUSTRALIAN Rugby League (ARL) boss Geoff Carr has firmly laid the blame for the South Tweed Koalas tug-of-war on the Gold Coast Rugby League, but has stopped short of intervening in the dispute at this stage.
While the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (NRRRL) wants the Koalas to stay south of the border, South Tweed has signed up to play in the GCRL next year.
But that hasn't happened, and while Carr described the whole incident as 'unsavoury' and been brought about because of the GCRL's 'aggressive' approach, he's requested that South Tweed president John Morris sits down with the CRL and try and solve the stalemate.
Carr has also reserved the right for the ARL to 'punish' the GCRL for its handling of the affair by denying it what it wants - the Koalas playing in its competition next year.
“The border has been an issue for us for the last five years because of the Gold Coast's aggressive recruitment of teams,” Carr told The Northern Star last night.
“That's why the ARL brought in a rule in the last 12 months for teams playing in a league wishing to go to another league across the border. They need to make an application to the parent body, in this case the CRL, to see if they can sort out some of the problems they may have.
“At the conclusion of those talks, if the club still isn't satisfied about staying where they are, and still want to move, then their request can't be unreasonably withheld.
“But before the CRL could talk to South Tweed, the Gold Coast sent them a letter admitting them to the competition.
“Clearly the rules weren't followed in this case and the whole incident has turned unsavoury because of the aggressive approach from Gold Coast.”
Morris has previously declared it would take Carr personally standing in front of them as they run out for their first game to prevent them from playing on the Gold Coast next year.
But Carr said that he had since telephoned Morris and held a 'not unreasonable' conversation and now expects Morris to sit down with the CRL and follow the correct protocol if they want to exit the NRRRL.
“South Tweed don't appear to have done anything wrong in this case, it's just that the Gold Coast prematurely gave them entry to their competition,” he said.
“But this has caused the CRL and Northern Rivers unnecessary aggravation and wasted a hell of a lot of time and energy trying to sort this out.”
While Morris could not be contacted for comment last night, The Star did talk to NRRRL president Robin Harley who said he was 'disappointed' with this latest turn of events.
The NRRRL had voted to split its competition into two conferences to accommodate some of South Tweed's concerns about travel costs and was hoping for a definitive decision before the league's annual general meeting on November 9.
“South Tweed will resist any move to sit down and talk to us. They think they are in the Gold Coast competition and don't have to worry about anything else,” Harley said.
“It's just extremely frustrating that we've got to this stage and I still don't understand why they (ARL) can't make a decision.”