For the second year in a row, a local team has withdrawn from the Tumut Pub 9s, with the Oriental Colts confirming they will not take part in the 2022 competition.
In 2021, it was the Bowlie Bears withdrawing from the competition due to a lack of playing numbers.
Tumut Old Boys and Supporters Club President Barry Madigan confirmed the news.
“The Oriental are dropping out and it is a case of the new ownership of the hotel among other things,” Madigan said.
“I originally spoke with David McDougall, and he said he won’t be around in December, and said he couldn’t look after the team, and when I spoke to him a second time only recently, he said they would not be taking part.”
Madigan was disappointed with the news purely because it meant local players were potentially missing out on a game of rugby league.
“It really is disappointing, because it means kids that should be playing the game have nothing to do,” Madigan said.
Oriental representative David McDougall confirmed a change in ownership of the Oriental Hotel was partly the reason why the Colts would not contest the 2022 Tumut Pub 9s, but he also touched on two more reasons why he elected not to enter a side.
“The change of ownership is one reason, but we have basically struggled for numbers and were struggling to consistently field a team.
“Plus, we have cowboys and young fellas, and I don’t want to see them playing first graders and having players get hurt.”
Jack Hillier was reportedly going to lead the Colts in 2022, but the marquee player rule would have impacted the young player’s plans of bringing new talent to the club.
“We had interest. Jack Hillier was interested in coaching, and he had a heap of young blokes, but they were from other areas,” McDougall said.
“We couldn’t do that because they wouldn’t qualify, because of the rules the Old Boys have introduced that say you have to be a local or playing for Tumut in Group 9.”
McDougall was concerned that with two Tumut teams dropping out in the space of two years, the recent shift to include Batlow, Tumbarumba and Adelong was having a negative impact on the competition.
“The focus has gone away from locals playing locals and having a semi-friendly competition, to playing other towns and wanting to win,” McDougall said.
“The whole point of the Pub 9s was to bring players in to play for the Blues, and not to give Batlow, Tumbarumba and Adelong a chance to win the Roddy Shield.
“The competition has gone away from what it was meant to be.”
With the Colts signalling the end of their involvement in Pub 9s, there are now only seven teams left, which includes Tumut teams Royal, Woolpack, Commercial and Star, plus three regional teams from Tumbarumba, Batlow and Adelong.
As a result, the Tumut Pub 9s will likely be run over seven or eight weeks, with each team playing each other once, while one team will be on the bye each Friday night before a final round of grand finals.
This should also eliminate double-headers, and the Old Boys are expected to confirm the new draw and their competition start date following Group 9’s AGM on December 4.