Orange City coach Steve Hamson and his Orange Emus counterpart Paul Ringland both lamented the Narromine Gorillas’ relegation to the 2017 GrainCorp Cup, the former labelled the move “disappointing for a once powerhouse club”.
The Gorillas will be heading mostly west this winter, rather than east, after nominating to move down to the second tier competition after struggling to field three teams in the top tier Blowes Clothing Cup for much of the past two seasons.
The move had been debated much since the end of last season’s competition, in which the Gorillas finished ninth of 11, before the official announcement was made at a committee meeting last month.
“It is disappointing to see it happen to Narromine, they were so strong for so long,” Hamson said.
“Although, they obviously think it’s the right move, so good luck to them and hopefully we see them back in the Blowes Clothing Cup sooner rather than later.”
“We’re hoping they can do what Mudgee and Dubbo Rhinos have done, and work their way back up,” Ringland added.
“It was only a few years ago they hosted three grand finals in a row in 2009, 2010 and 2011.”
As Hamson suggested, the Gorillas certainly view the move as a positive one.
“The feedback from the players, supporters and sponsors has been overwhelmingly positive and there’s an air of excitement around the club at the moment,” Narromine’s Mick Harris said.
“Many people associated with the Gorillas have worked tirelessly over the past three or so seasons to meet the Blowes Clothing Cup requirements. But we reached breaking point in 2016 with player numbers and had to make the call for the good of the club.
“Some may see it as a fall from grace for the Gorillas, but I believe it’s a chance to re-ignite the passion and enthusiasm within the Narromine rugby community and reacquaint ourselves with real grassroots rugby.”
Pre-season began at Noel Powell Ovals last week with the first training session on Thursday.
“We will only have to field one grade instead of three this year, this should stand us in good stead,” Harris said.
“Hopefully we can be competitive on a weekly basis and develop some internal competition for positions, which is always a healthy thing.
“If all goes well, this could change of competition should secure the longevity of the Gorillas and with a bright group of young players, coming through the junior ranks, a return to the Blowes Cup might not be that far away,” he said.
The 2017 is also significant as it marks 35 years of the Narromine Gorillas Rugby Club.