For the first time in years, Narrandera has a senior Rugby League team. It’s been over a decade since Group 17 dissolved, but the time is right to restore the competition.
Six teams have signed up to play, with Narrandera, Barellan, Ivanhoe, Rankin Springs, Hillston and Goolgowi putting forward teams for the competition, which will now be known
as the ProTen Community Cup.
The Narrandera Lizards senior side had initially approached the organisers of the Murray Cup, a rugby comp based out of Albury.
“Then when they decided to bring back this comp here – run on behalf of Group 17 –we used to be in the Group 17 so it was just the logical choice,” said Shaun Lyons, one of the organisers of the Narrandera Senior Lizards.
The competition will start in two weeks on May 25.
“Each team will get a home game,” Lyons explained.
“Our first round will be a knockout. All six teams will play on the same day. It’s only going to be over eight weeks; one knockout, five rounds and two finals.”
Because of the nature of the shorter rounds – and because the competition is still easing back into the scene – the focus will be on fitness, fun and a chance for a bit of social activity.
“We’re just trying to get rugby league back into the towns,” Lyons said.
“Rugby league is on the up in Narrandera. We’re not trying to compete with any other sports in town. We just want people to know that it’s a sociable thing – if you want to try something different and meet new people, then it’s there.
“Our player numbers so far aren’t too bad – we’ve got about 20 signed up. Things are going well.
“We haven’t had a seniors side in I don’t know how long. I think 2005 was the last time Narrandera played in a seniors comp.”
The ProTen Community Cup will be played under NRL’s Safe Play code, which will hopefully also make it easier for older men to put their boots on again.
Sponsors ProTen are contributing $8000 towards playing apparel for all the teams taking part.
Narrandera will have a home game on June 16, which will also coincide with a home game for the Junior Lizards.
The Junior Lizards have also had a resurgence in the last year, with player numbers doubling and the creation of girls teams. For the first time in Narrandera, the Junior Lizards have an U15s girls team.
Country Rugby League Bidgee Regional Area Manager David Skinner believes it gives towns a chance to play for themselves, rather than have players join bigger clubs in other communities.
“The competition doesn’t start until late May, which reflects the rural environment because the farmers tend to their crops during the April-May months.
“The guys out here are playing for the social engagement and to represent their small community,” Skinner said.
“Goolgowi is a classic example; they had 50 people at their first training run including wives and children.
“The town is buzzing from it and I’m sure the other towns would be much the same.”