Hervey Bay Seagulls in crisis talks to save its future
LEAGUE: Crisis talks have been held to save the once-dominant Hervey Bay Rugby League Football Club.
The Chronicle can exclusively reveal members from Hervey Bay, Bundaberg Rugby League and Queensland Rugby League's Central Division officials met at Seagulls HQ, Torquay's Stafford Park, on Monday night.
The Seagulls are in serious danger of not being able to participate in the BRL in 2019.
The club remains unaffiliated and without a competition in which to play just months from the start of the new season. A late audit meant its first scheduled AGM was declared invalid, which left the Seagulls were left without a voice at the BRL's annual general meeting in early November.
While the club did submit its financial records, the Seagulls have not yet been granted reaffiliation with the BRL, the governing body for local senior rugby league.
Club representatives were present at the BRL's first general meeting earlier this month, and while they could participate in discussions they were unable to vote on any motion.
BRL chairman Mike Ireland confirmed the meeting took place to determine the Seagulls' future, but any decisions, including the path forward for the 2018 wooden spooners, have not yet been finalised.
Seagulls president Jim Russell said he was not at the meeting due to work commitments, and he could not comment on the issue.
The Seagulls' woes have not been publicly detailed.
It is a major fall from grace for the 2016 BRL premiers, who won three straight minor premierships from 2015 to 2017, a period in which the Seagulls lost just five of their 52 regular season games.
A mass exodus of players left the Seagulls in the lurch ahead of the 2018 season.
Long-term Seagulls Clinton Horne and Billy Stefaniuk left for Waves Tigers, grand final-winning hooker Damien Otto and a raft of A-grade and reserve grade players left for Isis Devils, and others left the region to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
It meant the Seagulls were left with a young lineup throughout the season, led by Steven Dwyer, the young "veteran" who bleeds red and green and is considered one of the best forwards in the region.
While the side won just one game and drew one other, it was a crucial year for the younger players' development.
The Seagulls joined forces with the homeless Burnett Cutters, who were denied a presence in the Northern District Rugby League after its attempts to join the BRL as a standalone club.
The Cutters' battle for admission to the BRL is still ongoing.
There is no concern about the club's juniors, who play in the Rugby League Fraser Coast and Bundaberg Junior Rugby League competitions.