Central West Rugby Union’s board held an extraordinary general meeting on Monday night, one that could have a monumental impact on the 2017 Blowes Clothing Cup season.
There is a real chance the competition could be split into two five-team tiers for the remainder of the winter.
While it’s unclear if a decision was made regarding the move on Monday night, Central West Rugby Union chief executive officer Peter Veenstra confirmed the issue would be tabled for discussion at the meeting.
Although the most recent round of the competition was very competitive – including two draws – this season’s other results have highlighted a clear class gulf between the top and bottom halves of the competition.
That combined with some player shortages, has spurred a number of clubs to submit proposals to Central West Rugby Union regarding the splitting of the competition.
While Veenstra would only confirm that some clubs had done so the Central Western Daily can reveal that, at the very least, the Mudgee Wombats and Bathurst Bulldogs submitted in-depth manifestos to the board for consideration prior to the meeting.
Both were propositions for a split competition, effective immediately, to ensure the change happens before the second half of the season begins next weekend.
The Parkes Boars, Dubbo Rhinos, Cowra Eagles and CSU Bathurst are all said to agree change needs to occur.
Reportedly, Mudgee’s proposal was submitted first and suggested the split be determined by first grade standings and Bulldogs’ was a reactionary proposition.
However, it’s no secret the Bathurst club has promoted the idea of a tiered competition in past discussions.
The latter club was reportedly supportive of the Wombats’ push, however suggested the split be determined by club championship standings instead.
For context that, right now, would mean Bulldogs, Orange Emus, Orange City Lions, Dubbo Kangaroos and Forbes Platypi would play-off in the top tier while Parkes, Rhinos, CSU, Mudgee and Cowra would compete in the second tier.
Emus president Steve Fergus has been vocal in the promotion of positive change in 2017 and said while his club sees the merit in the idea of a two-tiered, results-based split the greens would prefer to see it come from next season onward.
“From Emus’ perspective, we don’t want the competition split into two tiers in 2017,” Fergus said.
“But there is definitely merit in any proposal promoting positive change, however it’s change we’d prefer to see come in from the 2018 onward.
“We’re also of the opinion that it shouldn’t happen without a strong plan in place to continue the development of the competition and sport in the region.”
Any and all proposals have been submitted to the board in a bid to promote development, participation and competitive rugby. Any decision would have to consider logistical issues as well, like gate takings and potential losses, already organised events and home and away fixtures already played, among plenty of others.
The second half of the Blowes Clothing Cup is scheduled to start this Saturday and that isn’t expected to change should the structure be altered.