Player numbers a concern for junior league


GROUP Nine Junior Rugby League (GNJRL) is at a stalemate to cope with a worrying player shortage as clubs from northern and southern divisions contemplate a possible merger.

With projected numbers dwindling for next season in the under 13s through to the under 16s competition, the board was forced to consider changes to the junior competition at the annual general meeting.

Accommodating for the return of the under 16s to the junior competition, GNJRL clubs explored the possibility of merging the southern and northern age divisions that fall under international rules.

Speaking yesterday, Brothers Junior Rugby League secretary Bob Hay said the lack of competition in these age divisions was a key factor in the dropping numbers.

"The southern pool clubs are concerned because there's a lack of competition in these age groups and the numbers are waning," he told The Daily Advertiser yesterday.

"We believe the kids get a bit stale and they're lacking interest because the competition is boring, a lot of the older divisions are dominated by just one team and a couple of age groups just don't have the numbers to make up enough teams.

"We need a better competition for these boys ... from our perspective we need some decisions to be made for the long term future of the game."

At this stage, GNJRL is waiting until registrations are received in February to assess the final numbers and contemplate changes to the divided competitions.

However, Hay believes the longer the league waits to make changes the bigger the issue grows.

"The older kids start training in early January and our fear is that they're more likely to be non-committal if they don't know what's happening with the competition," he said.

On the other hand, Gundagai Adelong Junior Rugby League president Jason Elphick admits changes to the current competition are unlikely.

"Nothing's decided ... I pretty much can't see anything changing," he said yesterday.

"The only big new thing is the under 16s joining the junior league and we've got to get them up and running before we make any major changes.

"We need to take little steps before big steps."

The story Player numbers a concern for junior league first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.

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