Revamped league draw may “cop flack”

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The Castlereagh Rugby League committee is expecting to “cop some flack” following the release on Monday of their revamped 2024 competition draw.

Castlereagh League secretary Bryson Luff admits the new draw is “far from ideal”.

“But given the background and the context in which it was framed, it is seen as being much fairer to our First Grade teams and it was the option that our clubs unanimously voted to go with,” Luff said.

Luff said that while he was sure the committee would “cop flack” with the new draw, he however challenged those who wanted to criticise it to come up with a better one given the circumstances that led to the new draw being made.

“To fully understand as to why the new draw had to be made people must realise what has led us to this point,” Luff said.

“The original draw was drafted back in November last year and presented at our AGM where the 10 clubs adopted it.

“As were the wishes of the clubs, the draw was made over 14 rounds which meant that (based on a draw from a hat) clubs were put into two pools of five with clubs in each pool playing each other twice, and each club from the other pool once.

“Clubs subsequently booked grounds and made arrangements based on that draw.

“In more recent times, we have unfortunately had both Dunedoo and Binnaway withdraw from the First Grade competition and, even more unfortunately, both those clubs were in the same pool which meant that some First Grade teams would have had four byes, some three and some two which was obviously unfair,” he explained.

“So, we were faced with the dilemma of having 10 clubs (Dunedoo and Binnaway still have League Tag teams), eight with First Grade, an uneven number of byes in First Grade, grounds booked and trying to squeeze an equitable competition into 14 rounds for all grades.”

Luff said at a recent general meeting participating clubs were presented with three options.

They were: 1. Keep the original draw; 2. Do an entirely new draw;  or 3. Adopt a revamped draw that meant minimal changes to the original draw but resulted in all first-grade teams having an equal number of byes.

“The third option was voted in unanimously.

“It will see the addition of four First Grade games, but those games will mean that every First Grade team will have two byes only.

“Unfortunately, it will also mean that Coonabarabran will play Coonamble three times as well as also playing Coolah three times in First Grade,” Luff said.

“As I said, it is far from ideal, but it certainly is fairer (for First Grade teams) than staying with the original draw, and it is far less disruptive than doing an entirely new draw which would have faced the same issues of First Grade teams having an unequal number of byes anyway!” Luff concluded.

The Castlereagh League season will get underway mid-April with the League Tag and Youth League knockouts being played at Coonabarabran, followed by the Senior Rugby League knockout at Coolah.

The first round of the competition kicks off at the end of April.