THE drama surrounding the Cobargo Eels Rugby League Club’s exit from the 2014 season has deepened after rumours the club’s playing roster had been shown to other clubs for comment.
The issue was raised by former player Norm Reed who wrote to the BDN saying it was a “disgrace that other clubs in the group were given the right to pick the eyes out of our reserve grade side”.
Group 16 president Dean Lynch acknowledged the roster was shown to other clubs, but said that it had no impact on the Group’s final decision.
“When Cobargo supplied the team sheets, we just put through the team sheets of what Cobargo put through - what other clubs said wasn’t taken into consideration,” Lynch said.
“We graded players on their history and ability.
“It was deemed unfair to allow first grade players to play in reserve grade,” he said.
However, Cobargo Eels committee member David Boyle refuted the claims and said the other clubs would have influenced the group’s decision.
“Of course the other clubs have had influence on it,” Boyle said.
“They are the ones saying players are too good.
“No doubt the other club’s have said ‘he’s too good’ because everyone wants the best for their own club.
“That’s just life,” he said.
Lynch said Cobargo wasn’t the only club whose list was shown to other clubs.
“I did the same for Bemboka as well ... it’s not just Cobargo.”
Lynch said the clubs were given the chance to argue their case for players to be in the lower grade.
“Bemboka and Cobargo were given the chance to appeal the ruling and we came to an agreement.”
The Eels did appeal and were given a reprieve on one of the players, but was still short of numbers to field a team.
“We allowed one of those players initially graded as a first grade player to play reserve grade,” Lynch said.
Boyle said the Group’s grading has left the club without a team to enter.
“It was the only sport left in town and now everyone’s going to take up marbles or something because there is nothing left to do – it’s wrecked the town a bit,” Boyle said.
“We are just disappointed ... they just pulled this on us that our captain-coach and our best players are too good for reserve grade.
“It wrecked our club and our town, the town has no interest [in rugby league] now.”
Lynch said the club was able to appeal beyond the Group to the CRL board.
“In a letter I said to them they do have the right to appeal to CRL through the regional manager Kevin Felgate,” Lynch said.
Boyle said the appeal proces was going to cost the club hundreds of dollars and would be a “waste of time”.
“As far as we knew you could appeal, but number one it was going to cost $400 or $500 to appeal it.
“There wasn’t much point wasting the money to appeal, because we’re obviously going to get the same result,” he said.
Lynch said the grading was unfortunate, but he wanted to focus on the positives and promote the code.
“It’s unfortunate this has happened and I do hope they come back stronger next season.
“We have more reserve grade than last year and our first grade is looking strong.”
Lynch said the Group had also been endeavouring to strengthen the competition with cash prizes for the pre-season.
“Top Video has signed on as major sponsor of pre-season competition, so there will be cash prizes.
“[There will be] over $2000 in prize money at the pre-season final in Bega.”
Meanwhile, Boyle said the Cobargo Eels might never be the same again.
“By having a year off, most of the players are going to go to another club, they’ll enjoy themselves there and have ties to that club.
“I can’t see Cobargo ever kicking off again,” he said.