The sign near the entry to Hungry Head beach spells out patrol hours.
The sign near the entry to Hungry Head beach spells out patrol hours. Greg White

Urunga SLSC may be banned from competing at Champs

SURF Life Saving NSW is adamant the Urunga Surf Life Saving Club is yet to be hit with what would be a 12-month suspension by the North Coast branch.

The club was found to have breached its patrol obligations when, due to lack of numbers, volunteers shut Hungry Head beach for two hours on Christmas Day.

Club president Vanessa Nugent acknowledges the club is at fault and admits a failure to meet obligations.

A meeting was held yesterday between officials of the club and branch.

North Coast branch president Kerry Clancy and husband Kevin, who is branch secretary, were overseas when the suspension was imposed.

Arriving back in Australia on Monday, Mrs Clancy said the judiciary would convene urgently to hear the matter.

A Surf Life Saving NSW spokesperson said the body believes Urunga SLSC hasn't been suspended and it's working with the North Coast Surf Life Saving Branch to resolve the issue.

"Following reports that lifesavers were absent from the beach at Urunga for a period of time over the holidays, the North Coast Branch has the task of investigating the circumstances surrounding this, as it is a possible breach of the minimum standard of patrols on the beach," the spokesperson said.

"Obviously the public, either locals or visitors, have a reasonable expectation that the beach will be patrolled during the published times to ensure they and their family can enjoy the beach safely.

"If the beach was left unattended for some time, one of the possible outcomes which could be recommended is the club is suspended from competing in surf sports events.

"This would not affect the club's patrolling, Nippers or training activities."

One major complication is the carnival ban hanging over the heads of competitors, and the eligibility of some of the more prominent ones.

Urunga has patrol members who compete with other clubs, and there were initial fears these would also be stood down.

The most prominent is star junior Tahlia Kollen who, while she competes with Sawtell, patrols with Urunga. Ironically, Tahlia will compete at the NSW Country Championships next month under the 'North Coast' (rather than Sawtell) banner and it's been confirmed she can compete.

"It may not be that simple, though, for our masters competitors, and we're seeking clarification," Mrs Nugent said.



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