Group 19 adds second division competition | Fairfax Media exclusive

CHANGES: Group 19 have added another option for rugby league players in the region with a second division competition to be introduced in 2018.
CHANGES: Group 19 have added another option for rugby league players in the region with a second division competition to be introduced in 2018.

In an effort to bolster rugby league in the region, Group 19 announced the introduction of a second division competition from next year. 

The format will follow the former Group 4 second division competition where clubs fielded a senior men’s and league tag team with no reserve grade or 18s needed. 

The first division competition will remain the same with league tag, under 18s, reserve and first grade. 

Clubs who played in outside competitions, including Uralla, Bingara, Bundarra and Tenterfield, will come back to Group 19. 

Second division will also allow some previously folded clubs like Ashford and Guyra back into the competition but not everyone is happy. 

Glen Innes Magpies president Barry Grob was disappointed with the the travel factor to towns including Moree and Boggabilla in the Group and had hoped for the borders to be rearranged to make it easier for players to commit every week. 

“When I spoke to them six months ago, they were all [for] a highway comp,” he said. 

“That's Tingha, Inverell, Glen, Armidale, Narwan and Ashford. 

“That was six teams that wanted a highway comp. 

“I would like to see the Moree contingent out that side go to Group 4.”

With the announcement, Guyra, Tenterfield, Uralla, Bingara, Bundarra and Ashford are believed to be the make up of the second division competition. 

Warialda are another club touted to be a possibility of entering the smaller competition depending on player numbers in 2018. 

Group 19 senior vice-president Terry Carson said all clubs will have the ability to progress or move down each year depending on the strength of player numbers. 

“That's what the big thing is, Guyra hasn't been in the comp this year but they really haven't been much of a force for three or four years except for when all the Narwan boys went up there,” he said. 

“Ten years ago they were unstoppable. 

“They have a pretty good history, Guyra rugby league, so this is where they start and then they will hope they do end up as a first division club. Ashford is in the same boat.

“We have all these little towns in the comp that we have to find a way for them to play footy.”

Group 19’s second division will also follow similar rules to the Group 4 version with restrictions on first graders and high-level representative players turning out. 

Carson said if a club entering second division had enough players for under 18s, the Group would do their best to fit them in. 

“We would try and find a way to make it work,” he said. 

“Especially with the numbers in under 18s, we only had six last year so you don't want to be knocking back a side with under 18s.”