The inaugural Batemans Bay Monaro Knockout has proved to be a huge success for regional rugby league as 10 teams from regional NSW and Canberra competed in both the men’s tackle and women’s Tag competitions over the weekend.
The knockout-style competition on 31 March and 1 April saw teams from Batemans Bay, Cootamundra, Woden Valley, Bega, Eden, Harden, Crookwell, Canowindra, Bombala and Snowy River take part. The Eden Tigers overcame the Batemans Bay Tigers in the men’s final, while the Woden Valley Rams defeated the Cootamundra Bulldogs in the women’s.
The competition is the first of its kind as teams from the Canberra Regional Rugby League (CRRL) Monaro region and the NSWRL’s Group 16 (NSW regions are sectioned off into groups, with leagues formed from those groups) had the opportunity to meet and play against other regional sides from different leagues in the preseason tournament.
Canberra Region and Community Rugby League general manager Mark Vergano described the inaugural knockout carnival as the successful initiation of a competition tailored to smaller associations.
“A lot of these preseason shield competitions are linked to the bigger clubs like the ones in Canberra or in the Riverina in NSW Rugby League’s case,” Mr Vergano said.
“We, along with Group 16, saw an opportunity to bring smaller teams and communities together to play in a competition that is fair and unique for their standard of football.
“It (the carnival) proved to be more than just a terrific preseason hitout as all teams played in a competitive and good-spirited nature.”
The competition comes as the CRRL and NSWRL look to attract younger boys and girls from regional areas to the sport.
“The CRRL will continue to be involved in any promotion that continues to bring women to our game,” Mr Vergano said.
“A bulk of clubs are running both men’s and women’s competitions now and that’s something we want to be getting behind.
“This weekend’s knockout featured both a men’s tackle and women’s tag competition, making it an accessible option for everyone who wants to play league, we are looking to continue pushing this preseason-type competition in the future and make it something regional clubs can look forward to and enjoy.”
Group 16 president Allan Wilton said the decision to host the competition in Batemans Bay had been easy due to the town’s fantastic facilities and accommodation.
Mr Wilton said the original idea for the event to be hosted in Batemans Bay had come after the Black Summer bushfires devastated the area in late 2019 and early 2020.
“In our eyes, it was a perfect way to give back to the area who had been through so much,” he said.
“We thought by bringing in teams and their families to the area, without overwhelming local business, was a positive way to enjoy our sport but also support the community.
“With the pandemic being when it was, it meant we had to postpone the competition for a number of years, but now in 2023 we’re in a space where we are able to host the competition.”
Members of the CRRL and Group 16 have praised organisers of the West Wylong Knockout competition for helping provide a template for the Batemans Bay carnival.
“We want to give a special thanks to the guys up at West Wylong, they really did give us a clear understanding of how to put on a carnival like this,” Mr Wilton said.
“We also want to thank the teams who travelled from wide and far to take part in the carnival. As it grows in the future, we’d like to make it a staple of regional rugby league and a regular preseason fixture clubs can look forward to.”
Original Article published by Jarryd Rowley on Region Riverina.