Junior rugby league kept in the dark

Tumut Minor League tagger Sophie Ryan will be hoping the Group 9 Junior Rugby League competition kicks off soon.

Despite the push for junior rugby league to make a return before seniors, the regions governing body has seemingly been kept in the dark by NSWRL.

Group 9 Junior Rugby League president Bernie Delaney was frustrated by the situation, despite NSWRL previously advocating the need to jumpstart junior competitions first and foremost.

“We haven’t got too much information at this stage,” Delaney said.

“It changes day to day but the big push is meant to get junior football going but we aren’t really seeing that.”

Delaney also questioned the recent guidelines issued by Sport Australia, wondering how it would impact grandparents who were the only ones able to take some kids to training and games.

“A lot of grandparents take kids to footy because their parents are working, what happens to those ones, do they miss out?” Delaney asked.

“I am in that (grandparent) bracket myself, do I stop going to games? And what about us as trainers? A lot of us are nearing that age.”

The Group 9 junior’s boss had a stark message for the federal government and NSWRL if they continue along this path of governance.

“It won’t work if they do it this way and we won’t be playing footy,” Delaney said.

“We just want to see the kids play footy, that is all that matters.”

Delaney is hoping that NSWRL’s guidelines, which should be released by Monday at the latest, will give the local junior competition more direction.

“I think no matter what anyone does, there will be challenges and I think we will need to look to the NSWRL for direction, but it all needs to be realistic,” Delaney said.

Tumut Minor League treasurer Matt Pearce said that a return to competition for junior rugby league players needed to be a calculated decision by all interested parties.

“We don’t want to jump into these things, we can’t afford this (disease) spreading in our area,” Pearce said.

Pearce did admit that Group 9 Junior Rugby League looked to be playing second fiddle to local senior competitions, and believed that was because of revenue.

“I think those guys (NSWRL) are focused on the aspects of the sport that generate revenue, and juniors don’t generate any revenue, but they need to remember these kids are the grass roots and the future of the game,” Pearce said.

Pearce also believes that NSWRL need to invest more time and money into junior rugby league, focusing on the progression of younger players to the senior ranks and representative football.

“When talking to other parents and coaches, I think the general consensus is that rugby league doesn’t get the attention it deserves in the bush,” Pearce said.

“I guess it makes sense why those guys haven’t spoken to the juniors and why we are lagging behind.”