WHILE a five team competition is far from ideal, Manning Ratz rugby union coach Danial Stone said it is preferable to a merged Lower North Coast/Mid North Coast premiership.
The LNC competition was dealt a blow this week when the Tea Gardens-based Myall Coast withdrew, reducing the number of sides to five. Myall Coast had been part of the LNC program since 2012 when the club won the premiership. However, the Mud Crabs have endured problems every year since.
“We didn’t want to lose them, but it isn’t really a surprise,’’ Stone said.
He said an extra round will be added to the competition which will now run until September. Under the original six club draw the grand final would have been played on August 18.
The Lower North Coast premiership was formed in 2008. Previously the Mid North Coast Zone stretched from Forster-Tuncurry to Coffs Harbour, however, clubs in this area struggled with the travel involved and the depth of players required to be competitive. Since 2008 Harrington has dropped out, Myall Coast joined and Wauchope played for one season before moving to the two grade Mid North Coast.
Stone said there’s no appetite among the five LNC clubs to again link with their northern counterparts.
“They're too strong up there,’' he admitted.
“And the travel would kill us.
“We just don’t have enough players here. Even (last season’s grand finalists) Wallamba and Forster would struggle in the Mid North Coast. They’d get flogged.’’
Stone also doubts Wauchope would be interested in returning to the Lower North Coast.
“From what I’ve heard they’ll be strong this year and they have plenty of players,’’ he said.
“Five clubs will be alright. There will be a bye, but with the extra round we’ll get more matches, so that will balance out.’’
Old Bar coach Tim Tout agreed with Stone.
“It would have been good to get the two Port sides and Wauchope down here – it would be like Group Three (Rugby League),’’ he said.
“But they have reserve grade sides and junior teams. We just don’t have the population here to sustain those teams.’’