Central West Rugby Union to consider shorter season for 2021

SHORTER SEASON PREDICTED: Parkes Boars breakaway Connor Farrer in a New Holland Cup first grade game. It is expected from 2021 the CWRU seasons will be a similar length to the COVID-19 shortened season. Photo: Allan Ryan.
SHORTER SEASON PREDICTED: Parkes Boars breakaway Connor Farrer in a New Holland Cup first grade game. It is expected from 2021 the CWRU seasons will be a similar length to the COVID-19 shortened season. Photo: Allan Ryan.

A societal shift towards shorter commitments could lead to more condensed Central West rugby campaigns in 2021.

Central West Rugby Union chief executive officer Matt Tink revealed on grand final day at Wade Park maintaining the short, nine-week regular season campaign adopted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic was on the agenda moving forward.

The idea was first floated by Dubbo Kangaroos president Gerald Webster a week ago.

The region's competitions were due to kick-off on the weekend of April 18 this year and run until a September 5 grand final, but the postponement of community sport forced a much-later start to the season, July 18.

Webster said despite the delay his club maintained strong numbers all year, adding the shorter commitment required to play in a nine-week regular season with just two weeks of finals meant all players were "keen to hook in".

Previous Blowes Clothing Cup and New Holland Cup campaigns have included 15 weeks the regular season, with a month-long finals system.

Tink admitted a shorter campaign will be looked at heading into the 2021 season.

He added the two tier system, which in 2021 is expected to include the likes of premiers Orange Emus, runners-up Orange City, Dubbo Roos, Forbes, Bathurst Bulldogs and the returning Cowra Eagles in the top tier and Parkes, Narromine, Dubbo Rhinos, Mudgee, CSU Bathurst and potentially two Bulldogs sides as well in a second tier, would remain.

"There's already been a bit of chat about a shortened season and it makes sense in some respects," Tink said.

"For me, I'd play every week. But society is heading the other way. Touch footy is 10 weeks, AFL Auskick is 10 weeks, Milo cricket 10 weeks ... then of course, private school rugby season, it's eight weeks.

"People are getting conditioned to shorter seasons. That will be something we have a yarn about in a couple of weeks.

"Ultimately we exist for the players, the clubs are here for the players and the players will have their say."

Regardless of format, Tink was thrilled the 2020 season was able to be played in some capacity and said both the Blowes Clothing Cup deciders and the New Holland Agriculture Cup grand finals, which were played at Mudgee's Glen Willow, were well received days by both players and spectators, all of which adhered to the COVID-safe guidelines.

"Certainly there's been times where we didn't think we'd get a season, but to get to this point is tremendous," he added.