NSW Rugby League Group 2 cancels 2020 season

Noone is likely to forget 2020 - it rolled in like a steam train and took most of what we held dear as collateral damage.

And just as we were starting to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, buy some loo paper from the shop and sink a frothy at the pub, it goes and takes our footy ... again.

Yesterday NSWRL Group 2's committee made the announcement that the 2020 season would not go ahead, despite COVID-19 restrictions easing from July.

Group 2 CEO Jim Anderson said only four of the seven registered clubs had submitted their COVID-19 safety plans ahead of the intended season start in the second week of July.

"According to NSWRL rules there needs to be five clubs to hold a competition," he said.

He said sponsor losses, dwindling player interest and inadequate volunteer numbers to implement COVID-19 safety protocols, were likely contributing factors to the Group not meeting quorum.

Back to the future: In March the Sea Eagles were ready for a huge 2020 season in their brand new (vintage) colours. Pictured: Dean Hillery, Matt Hyland, Joe Borg and Luke Shields

Back to the future: In March the Sea Eagles were ready for a huge 2020 season in their brand new (vintage) colours. Pictured: Dean Hillery, Matt Hyland, Joe Borg and Luke Shields

Macksville Sea Eagles was one of the four clubs ready to don warpaint for the 2020 season.

Club president Dean Hillery said they'd jumped through all the safety hoops in order to get their players back on the field.

"The decision to cancel the season is disappointing," he said.

"But maybe it's a smart one. All our major sponsors have pulled the pin, and we'd be relying on gate numbers at home games to pay the bills."

While the official NSWRL Group 2 season is cactus, Anderson said they'd "not given up completely yet".

There are currently discussions to get a four-club competition up and running, with Macksville, Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and South Grafton.

"If the four agree, we can organise a comp under competition rules, with a finals series. It just won't be officially recognised under NSWRL," he said.

"And NSWRL are trying to facilitate a game for the Under18s with the juniors."

Hillery said his club would be keen to be involved.

"One hundred per cent we'd be interested. I just want these fellas playing footy. And they all want to play," he said.

"But it all comes down to viability. I don't want our club to lose money - it's not worth going backwards."

He said regardless of the outcome, the committee would be organising some functions later in the year to keep the connection to the game and community spirit alive.

"The players are our future, and we'll stand behind them no matter what," he said.

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