CRL backs bush push


A DAMAGING rift in country rugby league has been averted with NSW Country Rugby League (CRL) officials yesterday agreeing to sanction an Aboriginal consortiums plans to run their own league this year.

The consortium had put forward plans to establish their own league amid claims that the CRL was discriminating against indigenous players and clubs.

CRL general manager Terry Quinn yesterday agreed, in principle, to support a NSW Aboriginal Rugby League and Sports Incorporated (ARLSI) push to establish a yet-to-be-named competition in north-west NSW.

The proposed competition has until Monday to finalise details regarding governance structure before being officially ratified at a CRL board meeting on March 16.

The ARLSI competition will include under 15, under 18 and first grade teams with the clubs taking part originally booted out of NSW Groups Two, Four and 19 competitions.

The ARLSI had threatened to run their own league without sanctioning from the CRL.

That threat had caused concern for Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (NRRRL) officials.

NRRRL officials had suggested that any breakaway competition would have had a detrimental impact on the competition.

Clubs including South Grafton, Kyogle, Ballina and Casino were expected to be among the hardest hit with many of their Aboriginal players tipped to link with the rogue competition.

However, those fears have been allayed by yesterday's decision.

"A rebel breakaway league would have been detrimental to rugby league in the bush so it's great we've come to an agreement to work together on this issue," Quinn said.

"We resolved a lot of our differences and can now focus on the main objective of ensuring there are further opportunities for kids in these areas."

ARLSI secretary Michael Anderson was ecstatic with the result of yesterday's meeting in Tamworth.

"There has been an enormous amount of effort from both parties and what appeared to be a confrontation really wasn't in the end," Anderson said.

"There was a bit of necessary bloodletting in getting to this point but the important thing is we've come to a positive resolution."

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