Split: South - Marist Brothers Rams (left) North - Byron Bay Red Devils (right)
Split: South - Marist Brothers Rams (left) North - Byron Bay Red Devils (right)

League divided into North and South conferences

LOCAL clubs have backed a split in the Retravision Northern League as South Tweed backed further away from the competition.

In a tight vote at the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League meeting at Ballina Seagulls Leagues club last night, club representatives voted in favour of dividing the competition into North and South conferences.

But South Tweed Koalas, the club the proposal was initially mooted for, did not turn up for the meeting.

South Tweed’s president John Morris remained defiant, saying the Koalas had no alliance with the group.

“I’m not going to the meeting. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve got nothing to do with the NRRRL,” he said yesterday.

But NRRRL chairman Robin Harley said the club had no authority to move to the Gold Coast competition.

“They’re in the unenviable position where they’ve backed themselves to go into that league, and they don’t have permission,” Harley said.

With neither side prepared to budge, the issue now lies squarely with the Country Rugby League and the Australian Rugby League.

The matter is believed to be causing tensions between high ranking officials of both organisations.
CRL chief executive Terry Quinn did not respond to several calls from The Northern Star over the past two days, but Morris said he was expecting a response from Quinn by Friday.

Under the new format, Marist Brothers, Casino, Kyogle and Evans Head will play with Grafton Rhinos, Grafton Ghosts and Lower Clarence Magpies in the Southern conference.

And the Koalas will be grouped with Mullumbimby, Byron Bay, Ballina, Tweed Coast Raiders, Cudgen Hornets and Murwillumbah in the Northern conference.

Also mooted at the meeting was an 18-round home-and-away season as opposed to 21 rounds.

According to Harley, the revised competition format will dramatically reduce the clubs’ travel costs and negates the Koalas’ main reason for wanting out.

Harley also said the draw was only a draft and would be finalised at the group’s AGM on November 10.

“I’ve stressed the form ... is only a draft and could change but the way it is proposed is the way it will work,” Harley said.

Northern United was not included in the draw, but the club can still join the competition if it gains support of rival clubs before the AGM.
How it works:

Under the new draw, the Mullumbimby Giants, Byron Bay Red Devils and Ballina Seagulls, will be lumped together with the four Tweed-based teams.

On the other side of the draw, the Marist Brothers Rams, Kyogle Turkeys, Casino Cougars and Evans Head Bombers will join the three Clarence teams in the south including the Grafton Ghosts, Grafton Rhinos and the Lower Clarence Magpies.

The three leading teams from each conference will play-off in the finals series.

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