New structure will help struggling teams remain competitive

Mitchell Craig
Updated May 10 2022 - 11:47am, first published May 6 2022 - 4:35pm
SPLIT ROUNDS: The NRRRL is set to split into a top six and bottom six competition ahead of the finals. Picture Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus.
SPLIT ROUNDS: The NRRRL is set to split into a top six and bottom six competition ahead of the finals. Picture Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus.

NORTHERN Rivers Regional Rugby League has announced a new structure which will split the competition into two divisions this season.

All clubs will play everyone once before splitting into a Premiership (top six) and Trophy (bottom six) competition for the remaining rounds and finals series.

The announcement comes just weeks after Casino was forced to pull out of first grade this season due to lack of numbers.

A change to the competition last year saw a Mercy Rule introduced with fulltime called once teams were ahead by more than 60 points.

It has resulted in games being called off sometimes as early as the 60 minute mark.

There were plenty of lopsided scores across the weekend which highlights the need for a change.

Marist Brothers belted Kyogle 70-14 while Cudgen defeated Lower Clarence 62-0.

Elsewhere, Lismore-based Northern United had to forfeit both its senior grades against Bilambil on the weekend.

United have only played once this season after postponing a home game against Murwillumbah due to wet weather.

The problem isn't limited to just first grade with Brothers recording a 60-0 win over Kyogle in reserve grade and 34-0 in ladies league tag on Sunday.

Elsewhere Murwillumbah belted Lower Clarence 64-4 in under-18s with Cudgen thumping Casino 60-0 in reserve grade.

NRRRL management has worked hard to return clubs to the field and received assistance from the NSWRL's $600,000 flood relief package.

The new competition structure will make it easier by providing a more evenly matched season after the initial grading rounds.

"The NRRRL understands the toll the floods have had on the region and want to support their clubs getting back to "normal" competition, as well as engage with their own local communities via the game of Rugby League," A NSW Rugby League statement said.

"Registrations remain up on this point last year with over 1050 senior players and 4250 total players already registered in the senior and both junior competitions.

"The quality of the top teams within the area is getting stronger and the new competition structure should help clubs engage at a level that suits their town/club."

At least three Tweed teams are likely to finish in the top six at the midway point of the season in first grade.

On current form, Ballina, Byron Bay, Evans Head and Marist Brothers will be the other clubs pushing for the main spots.

Ballina and Marist Brothers will lock horns this weekend.

Mitchell Craig

Mitchell Craig

Senior journalist

Australian Community Media journalist with over 10 years' experience in providing quality news and sport stories.