SHAKE-UP LOOMS: League in Wide Bay is set for a facelift
LEAGUE: Rugby league in Bundaberg and the Wide Bay region could be set for its biggest shake-up in decades.
The NewsMail can exclusively reveal a forum will be held next month to discuss the future of the sport in the region.
And everything is on the table with juniors, seniors, the women's competition, referees and representative football under the microscope.
Queensland Rugby League Central chairman Danny McGuire says the decisions that are made in the next few month will hopefully shape the sport for the next few decades, as well as provide a platform for the region's best players to play in local competition and head up the levels to the NRL if they chose that path.
The forum will be held on August 9 at The Waves Sports Club, with three delegates from every club in Wide Bay expected to be invited to attend to discuss the direction of the code.
The meeting will be used to propose a few ideas that the QRL has suggested to build the game.
These include the introduction of division one and division two competitions covering all of Wide Bay, the establishment of a junior competition that includes South Burnett along with Fraser Coast and Bundaberg - two teams that already compete against each other - and the future of the women's competition in both seniors and juniors.
Finally, there will be discussion about whether Bundaberg and Wide Bay should enter the Mal Meninga Auswide Bank under-18 state competition in 2020.
"We'll be putting up proposals for everyone to discuss,” McGuire said.
"Look, it might not happen,” he added.
"Whether they come to fruition is up to the clubs, but we need to do something.
"We have to change to suit the socio-economic impacts of the area.”
McGuire pointed to players moving consistently between the Northern Districts Rugby League and Bundaberg Rugby League as one reason for change, adding the demise of some clubs in competitions did not help.
He said the way the current format was running stretched everyone's resources.
His idea is merge all competitions in two divisions - division one and division two.
Division one would be filled by A-grade teams including Bundy sides Eastern Suburbs, Past Brothers, The Waves and Western Suburbs, with the Wallaroos from Maryborough and Hervey Bay's Seagulls to join as well.
Division two would be split into two pools - pool A and pool B - with one to include Northern Districts Rugby League, Bundaberg's reserves sides and the Burnett Cutters.
The other would have reserves sides from the Fraser Coast playing sides from the Isis Shire, Maryborough Brothers, Biggenden, Gayndah, Burrum and others.
In time, if teams were successful they could move from division two to division one.
The sides' matches would be restricted to their own division until the finals, when the top sides from both divisions would come together to compete.
McGuire said BRL chairman Mike Ireland fully supported the move and if it happened someone would be hired to oversee the whole competition while those in control of associations looked after their own area.
"For us, we want the forum to create a working group that will look at the future of the game,” he said.
"By the first semi-finals (in the BRL) we'd come back and sort out what we are going to do, whether to make change or stay as is.
"We're looking for buy-in from the clubs, groups and everyone.
"From the start of next season next year we want a resolution and to get the sport on track.
"This is in all areas, juniors, seniors, referees and boundaries of areas.”
The forum will start at 6.30pm on Friday, August 9. McGuire's ideas will be further explained before two hours of discussion.
Members of the public will not be invited to the night but can have their say on the future of the game before the forum.
People can contact their local club or email Dave Pearce, the operations manager at the QRL, at email@example.com.
There will be more in the NewsMail after the forum is held.