QRL nabs Tugun

By LUIS FELIU

GOLD Coast Group 18 premiers Tugun will not play in the new combined Northern Rivers League next year after the Queensland Rugby League formally rejected the move.

Tugun president Scott Swain said he was disappointed, but the club was now forced to look to its future in the south-east Queensland-based Mixwell Cup competition next season.

The Seahawks, who took out the last Group 18 grand final before a huge crowd last month, will join other Gold Coast clubs Burleigh Heads and Runaway Bay in the Mixwell Cup and will field an under-19 Colts side as well. The reserves will play in the Gold Coast league.

Swain said the club had written to the Australian Rugby League last week as a "last throw of the dice" in its bid to play in the newly merged Group 18 and Group 1 Northern Rivers League, but was told it needed QRL permission to do so.

Yesterday morning Swain rang QRL boss Ross Livermore who declined to allow the move, telling Swain that Tugun, being a strong club, was better playing in the Mixwell Cup, with the under-19s to enjoy a strong Colts competition.

"The players are pretty positive about it surprisingly ... as a club we were happy to go with the new Group 1 but a decision has been made and this has been going on for months," Swain said.

"I feel relieved a decision has been made and we can just get on with doing what we have to do, and that is build a strong side for the Brisbane competition, which our sponsors would probably get a lot of mileage from as well.

''It's not the decision I wanted, but at least I can just get on to something that I enjoy, and that's football, instead of worrying about the politics."

Group 18 secretary Bill Carroll described the decision as "totally disappointing and a total disgrace".

"It's not unexpected but unfortunately they (the ARL) put politics before the game," Carroll said.

The bid, he said, had been discussed on Monday at the ARL board meeting.

"I spoke to three board members on Saturday night including chairman Colin Love and asked them to consider the game and not politics, telling them it would split the Tugun club," he said.

Carroll said he was also disappointed that the six NSW members on the ARL board did not back Country Rugby League member Terry Quinn on the issue.

"It's a total disgrace, but there's not much more we can do about it," he said.

Tugun would be split, he said, because its senior side would play in the Mixwell Cup and the reserves, also Group 18 premiers this year, "will be forced to play in an amateur competition on the Gold Coast".

Beaudesert, he said, had won the Gold Coast competition this year ''and they had to pull out of our competition because they weren't competitive, so what's Tugun going to do with those clubs".

"Obviously Tugun will lose quality players by it because they won't want to play in that competition and the two Tugun teams won't be able to play together, which will make it extremely difficult for them to attract sponsorship and crowds to their games," Carroll said.



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