FOLLOWING months of discussion and argument, last year's unbeaten winners of the Lower Mid North Coast rugby union premiership, the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins, have withdrawn from this season's competition.
The club which stormed home to claim decisive victory last year behind a 30-strong playing force informed the executive officer of the M.N.C. Zone, Bob Wilson, of its decision this week.
Mr Wilson was bitterly disappointed when informed of the decision, telling the president of the Dolphins club, Damian Daczko: "Surely you could have waited until this week while all of the final information is being received.
"This is the third time your club has changed its mind on playing.
"It is very disappointing. The final guidelines and restrictions have not been received and at this present time the social distancing laws are being relaxed."
Mr Wilson elaborated by saying: " It's most disappointing, a disgrace. Look at what happened when Old Bar withdrew from the competition for a year. This decision could come back to bite the Dolphins on the foot."
Damian Daczko, said: "After careful consideration and discussions with the committee and senior playing group, the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins will not be competing in the 2020 Covid-19 - affected competition.
"We have delayed the decision hoping that social distancing laws would be relaxed and that Covid-19 would be contained.
"However, it is now apparent that social distancing laws will remain in place and that the risk will still be present."
A major factor in the decision to withdraw was the number of players who indicated their reluctance to take part in the Kennards Hire premiership while the pandemic hovers over their heads.
The rugby competition begins on Saturday week (July11) with the Manning River Ratz playing Wauchope Thunder at Wauchope; the Gloucester Cockies now having a bye; and the Wallamba Bulls meeting the Old Bar Clams at Nabiac.