Group 9 introduce Challenge Cup concept

Group 9 will introduce a Challenge Cup to their competition as of 2022.

The concept, which is reminiscent of the now defunct Maher Cup, was voted in by clubs at the Group 9 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday, and will run as part of the 2022 competition.

The Temora Dragons were drawn out of a hat to be the first holders of the Challenge Cup, and clubs will pay a fee to challenge for the silverware, with games only allowed to be played at the Challenge Cup holder’s home ground.

New Group 9 Vice Chairman, Bernie Delaney, was a big supporter of the Challenge Cup concept. 

“It’s great and it adds something extra to the competition,” Delaney said.

“I think clubs will really get around it and it is just another exciting element.”

It was originally proposed that the Maher Cup would be re-introduced to the competition, but this idea was shot down by the Tumut Old Boy’s and Supporters Club. 

“We had a meeting with the Old Boys and we discussed the pros and cons to playing the Maher Cup in that format,” Delaney said. 

“They went away and discussed it with the remainder of the Old Boys and because there are a lot of clubs that weren’t involved with the Maher Cup back when it was originally played for, they were worried the history of the competition would be lost on clubs that were involved. 

“They were more concerned how the Maher Cup was going to be portrayed but they were really good about it and explained why they weren’t comfortable with the idea.”

Tumut Blues Secretary Rose McCormick supported the Challenge Cup concept, and believed the success of Maher Cup matches played between Tumut and Gundagai this season highlighted why Group 9 wanted to introduce the new competition. 

“Group 9 recognised how good it was celebrating both club’s 100 years this year and that people really enjoyed the Maher Cup,” McCormick said.

“It just brings another element into the game and clubs were pretty keen to get behind it for next season.”

In other key takeaways from the Group 9 AGM, the Junee Diesels were welcomed back to the first-grade competition with open arms, and clubs subsequently voted for a 16-round competition just ahead of an 18-round home and away competition.

“We are now playing 16 rounds and all clubs are involved, including Junee, which makes it nine teams,” McCormick said. 

“We all have first grade, reserve grade and leaguetag teams, and there are a few teams struggling with under 16s but other than that, it’s looks really good. 

“It was a four to five vote for 16 rounds instead of 18. We wanted 18 rounds and to play everyone twice and have it fair across the board, but it is was it is.”

Importantly, Tumut play Gundagai twice, and avoid away trips to both Young and Wagga Kangaroos. 

“Out of the 16 rounds, we do get to play Gundagai twice and we get our home and away games against our rival,” McCormick said. 

“The only teams we don’t play twice are Kangaroos and Young.”

There isn’t a Magic Round in 2021, with club’s unanimously voting against the idea and there is a mixture of both Saturday and Sunday fixtures.

“There is a mix of Saturday and Sunday games as opposed to last year where we had more Saturday games, but there isn’t much we can do there,” McCormick said. 

The competition will commence on April 23, with Tumut away to Albury in round one before back-to-back home games against Brothers and Gundagai, while the grand final is scheduled for September 18. 

As far as the Group 9 committee, Andrew Hinchcliffe remained Chairman for a second year and will be assisted by Bernie Delaney as Vice Chairman, who took over from the outgoing Ian Close. 

Tim Humphries also joined the board with Lisa Crick and former Chairman Peter McDermott both stepping down.

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