Taking NRL to the bush

There has been a lot of talk lately about the importance of Rugby League in regional areas and how numbers are starting to dwindle in the country (with the CRL being absorbed into the NSWRL).

Some commentator have mentioned assigning each NSW team with a regional area and taking a game out there once a year and help with development in these regions, very similar to the Panthers and the efforts in the Bathurst / Group 10 area.

What are your thoughts on this? Please discuss.

Should the NRL assist the clubs in getting more games out into the country?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

I have an idea for something related to this… I will update this post with it later when I finish writing it.

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The initial problem is having a ground and facilities in the bush that can cater for 1st grade and NSW cup for that matter on the same day.

You can’t expect our elite to play on roads with no security.

Years ago Canterbury supremo Peter ‘Bullfrog’ Moore developed blokes like the Mortimers and Greg Brentnall. Most recently Panthers are active out to Dubbo. So now, the NRL wants the NSW clubs to develop juniors for their purported interstate ‘conference’ system. That’s where these young blokes will end up, all thanks to the NRL? This needs a lot of thought, so in the meantime … I say NO !

I have been saying this for years. Have each club take a game a year to “their country region”. Have them responsible for development in that region, therefore giving them first choice of those juniors.

To be fair, we have been doing this for about 10 years now, with players such as Yeo, Burton & Naden being a result of our investment in the Central West.

I seem to recall there was a system in place for Sydney clubs to be aligned with NSW Country Group (in our case Group10) & to support them and use as a nursery. Maybe I dreamt it :slight_smile:

Guess the roosters area was Mt Druitt & St Marys - they probably thought it was country from the Bondi bunker. Interestingly I attended a recent Flegg game & very conspicuous was a guy in a roosters jacket with a notebook (and probably a checkbook in his pocket). Guess that’s their junior development program - he didn’t stick around for NSW Cup.

We have clearly done a great job on identifying talented boys in the country & developing them, and clearly NRL support of country footy should be extended.


so who allocates ‘their’ country region hmmm ! …

and which clubs are willing to accept the responsibility and cost ?

They should first be assigned on proximity (ie Penrith - Central West, St George - South Coast, Newcastle - mid-North coast, Canberra - Riverina, etc.).

Sydney teams who don’t border on regional areas get assigned outer areas and/or states who aren’t represented.

Try to give all clubs roughly equal numbers to work with between their local area & the regional areas they are assigned.

Good luck with that Mutley.

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Okay… so I haven’t fully fleshed this idea out, so please feel free to poke holes in it.

Who remembers the Panasonic Cup? (also known as the KB Cup, Amco Cup, amongst others)

So my idea is to reintroduce a mid-week competition for country teams. Televised mid weeks games in a round robin or knockout style competition. Have them play for a trophy and prize money for their region.

I think it would helps in a few ways.

It would help provide a showcase for young country talent to prospective NRL clubs who’s scouts are usually busy reviewing suburban matches.

It would make for a spectacle for local communities to get involved in and provide some income for these local country clubs.

It would also go some way to pushing the NRL’s agenda of ‘Supporting Rugby League in the bush’ having a televised platform promoting the semi-professional competition.

It would also provide content for the 24/7 rugby league channel in the mid week blank spot… I’m sure people would rather watch some entertaining bush footy rather than reruns of NRL Life and NRL360.

I think if the NRL provide something like this, the country teams involved will take to it and really make it their own.

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I remember the Amco Cup and Western Division with TVTed.

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Great in theory Steve, but as with anything it all comes back to $$$

Would Fox want to pay for this type of (park level) competition to fill mid week slots, or press play on already recorded shows and continue to rake in the wealth?

I tell ya what would probably work, if the league had an incentive to ageing players i.e. Benji Marshall to go and play in a competition like this and still earn a reasonable wage, doing what they love while giving something back. Cliff Lyons, Col Vandervoort and the like did it years ago just because, why not take it to a level where people would watch it.

The Temora Dragons featuring Liam Martin as Captain Coach vs Dubbo pipe smokers featuring Isaah Yeo as Captain Coach - wrap the young talent in the respective teams and you have a reason to watch.

What the NRL should do is put it to the likes of Benji and ageing co to see what would be a reasonable expectation from them. Maybe it’s a job at NRL when they do retire, i.e. talent scout.

Anyway, all i know is, the $$$ need to be available to all and sundry and only with the hype of expectation can you count on the general public to get involved.


Combine a “Country Cup” style round robin comp with reserve grade nrl teams and I think your on an absolute winner of a competition.

Rugby league scheduled 7 days a week, What a dream for TV and streaming rights.

More money for the game, more exposure for hidden talent. Take it on the road for regional tourism exposure.