Woodbridge 'happy to help' with talks of merger with Mid West

Woodbridge Cup President Andrew Pull says he wants the best for clubs across both competitions in 2022.
Woodbridge Cup President Andrew Pull says he wants the best for clubs across both competitions in 2022.

With the possibility of a merger with Mid West still on the table, Woodbridge Cup President Andrew Pull says he wants the best for clubs across both competitions in 2022.

Just how the season will look however remains to be seen.

Mr Pull said Woodbridge Cup sides have made it clear that, no matter what happens, they want to stick together.

"There was a fair bit of speculation and then at our Woodbridge Cup AGM, Evan [Jones] from NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) said, 'look, Mid West are in a bit of trouble' and we talked about different options on I suppose a merger," Mr Pull said.

"Our clubs are really keen on staying together as our competition but we're more than willing to look at options to help Mid West.

"All the Woodbridge Cup clubs are happy to do something to assist Mid West, we just don't know what that will look like just yet.

"We're all small communities, all their clubs are small communities, we all know how important rugby league is."

Woodbridge Cup nominations will close on January 31 and Mr Pull said no decisions will be made until after that deadline.

"Regardless of what's happening at Mid West, we give our clubs till the 31st of January every year to nominate anyway, just because of the size of the communities," he said.

"We will know what's going on then."

Talks of a merger between the two competitions began after it was rumoured the Lithgow Bears' men's side would have to fold however new President Benjamin Blanchard said don't count the club out just yet.

"We've got a girls coach and they will begin training in February but our biggest thing is that we haven't got a men's coach and we are still looking for more players in both teams," Blanchard said.

"We are hoping to get players from last year to come back."

The union of the two second-tier competitions had also previously been proposed following the merger of Group 10 and Group 11 clubs for the new 2022 Peter McDonald Premiership.

Mid West Cup President, Dallas Booth said while nothing is confirmed, should the Bears bow out, the case for a merger with Woodbridge is much stronger.

"Nothing is set in stone, there's definitely nothing set in stone, but it's looking increasingly likely," Booth admitted.

"So while it's not confirmed yet, it's going to be best case scenario four teams. Like I said, nothing is confirmed, there's talks to be had and hoops to jump through, but I would assume that they will throw us in with Woodbridge Cup."

The number of clubs involved with the Mid West Cup has regularly fluctuated over the past decade with former premiership winners such as Kandos, Blackheath, Wallerawang and Villages United no longer part of the competition.

Two years ago things were looking strong when Oberon dropped back from Group 10 to join the Mid West and Cargo coming in after the 2020 Woodbridge season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

There were also two Orange clubs.

But from that seven-team premiership, it dropped to five clubs in 2021 and should the Bears fold, it leaves CSU, Orange Warriors, Portland and Oberon.

"It really remains to be seen what will happen, but the last time Mid West had a four-team competition, it was very repetitive and every team said it took the fun out of it," Booth said.

"It was on the brink of folding, but we played that season with four teams and that kept the competition alive and we then had seven teams the following year which was awesome.

"If teams like Blackheath, Kandos, Wang came back, if you got to the point when all these teams were back in Mid West, you'd run your own competition 100 percent and it would be great, but it's just not there at the moment.

"But you can't just completely fold or you'll lose these players to other clubs or worse still, other sports."

The Mid West competition has had periods of hiatus since its inaugural season in 1913, but has run continuously since 1966.

"There are options, but they've got to be put on the table and discussed between us, Woodbridge Cup and New South Wales Rugby League. We'll have to see what we can nut out which will be the best scenario for everyone," Booth said.

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This story Woodbridge 'happy to help' with talks of merger with Mid West first appeared on Canowindra News.