LAST RITES: Players and trainers from the Lower Clarence Magpies shake hands after the club announced it would drop out of NRRRL first grade this season.
LAST RITES: Players and trainers from the Lower Clarence Magpies shake hands after the club announced it would drop out of NRRRL first grade this season. Adam Hourigan

Prospect of only 10 teams for NRRRL kick-off this weekend

NORTHERN Rivers Regional Rugby League could be down to 10 teams this season with Mullumbimby likely to follow Lower Clarence and not field a first-grade team.

The Giants believe they do not have the quality for first grade and have requested to play only reserve grade and Under-18s this season.

They will meet NRRRL management tonight with two representatives from each club set to decide what grade Mullumbimby.

It comes just after Lower Clarence pulled out of first grade and reserve grade.

The NRRRL will start this weekend with Mullumbimby scheduled to play at home against Kyogle.

"We could be looking at having to do the draw all over again on Tuesday (tomorrow)," NRRRL president Brian Rix said.

"It's not great timing and it's certainly a decision that we'll put some thought into."

The Magpies will still have an Under-18 team this year and will slot into play before Tweed Coast, which is not fielding a team in that age division.

Mullumbimby playing reserve grade is the real spanner in the works.

Byron Bay did the same in 2011, winning the reserve grade grand final, before returning to the top grade the following season where they have remained.

Lower Clarence has indicated it will be back playing first grade next season.

"It was a hard decision for them but probably the most appropriate one," Rix said.

"They weren't getting the numbers and if they had a few injuries they would have been down to only 13 or 14 players.

"We've seen clubs bounce back from 12 months out and we'll do whatever we can to help them."

The Magpies, who with- drew late last week, have struggled on and off the field since winning the premier- ship in 2009.



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