Open letter from Tathra Sea Eagles Rugby League Club

The following statement was submitted by the Tathra Rugby League Football Club with news the club’s committee has resigned en masse

Statement from the Tathra Rugby League Football Club

At the recent meeting of Group 16 Rugby League, a review of its recent decision to dismiss Tathra’s three-team proposal for 2016 was not even considered.

We were hopeful that a motion forwarded by two of our clubs for a re-vote was not only reasonable, but we were assured by CRL CEO Terry Quinn that a re-vote would apply.  The group executive thought otherwise and the motion was disallowed.  Can’t get more dismissive than that.

Our large footballing family, our town, and now an avalanche of supporters and rugby league advocates from everywhere are stunned by a decision to exclude one of our most effectively functioning clubs in its 90th birthday year. 

The 50-60 players denied the opportunity to play.  The view that they will now play “down the road” far from reality.  Most now lost to the game.

It defies logic and certainly makes a mockery of the CRL and NSWRL constitutional objectives to “promote, foster and develop the game of rugby league” and in particular the CRL advice that “the group has an obligation to uphold NSWRL objective of ensuring rugby league is played by as many people as possible”. 

We even informed the group in early December, in a legally advised and presented appeals position paper, of these matters and their responsibilities in this regard. No action.

We have been overwhelmed by messages of support as indicated in social media posts, and the indignation that the group decision has ignited.  Keep it up.  Inform the wider audience as they should be.

We didn’t pick up on the earlier signs that the Tathra Club was not part of the big picture plans now emerging. 

The unshared, imposed direction has a “big town” focus and flavour. 

We place restrictive criteria on smaller towns and clubs that they find increasingly difficult to meet, hopeful they will all merge with next door and provide “feeder” support for the larger centres.

And of course, healthy discussion on this matter is discouraged. This explains why a Tathra motion on this very matter has been “avoided” since the AGM in October and on three occasions since. 

While our smaller clubs are wisening up, some colleagues in larger towns, where self-interest prevails, welcome having to not compete for player availability.  Of course a secret ballot would disguise their club/personal stance.

Group intrigue and politics; double standards; secret ballots; selected communication; self-interest and self- promotion; hidden agendas and so on, are all contrary to our Tathra Eagles culture and the very standards and values we’ve applied to the game over the past 20 years. 

For most of us, it is all too much.

On this basis, we collectively resign. 

Our senior club, in its 90th year, has closed the doors. 

The current committee has no intention of returning to the Group.

We share close ties with many of our co-clubs who “have our back”, but we hold the Group 16 executive and the network wholly responsible for our club’s demise and for dismantling a significant rugby league asset. 

As one of our group commented – the 12 or so resigning members have a lifetime of rugby league knowledge and contribution.  That’s a lot of lost social capital.

On this note, we empathise with our major sponsor, the Tathra Beach Country Club. 

It has made a big investment in upgrading its playing facilities to the best in the group. 

All supported by untold hours of voluntary work by our club and town tradies. 

They all backed our Eagles spirit and success confident their outlay would provide a return. 

A reminder to all.  We are “Custodians of the Game”, Caretakers for the future. 

Your decisions should have this focus. 

It is a critical and challenging role, more so these days within a climate of competing options, dwindling participation and changing social patterns. 

Above all, it requires an informed “read” of this changing dimension to the game and to fostering its growth on the Far South Coast. 

All this with due regard to our unique and individual rugby league background and to a strong RL culture apparent in many of our towns that have sustained the competition over many years.

Use it, don’t lose it.

The informed position of Tathra is that we have a current gap in 1st grade availability with youth moving away. 

There remained, however, a committed group, many in the twilight of their playing years, who wanted a return to the fun and social side of the game.  Reserve grade the obvious avenue. 

Their numbers grew to 24 as word spread of our 2016 plans.  Training commenced.

They were all excited about once again playing for their home town and supporting our U18 and our junior development. 

So were we – confident that common sense would prevail re our inclusion.

We were wrong.

Successive media releases by the Group informed players and the public with mixed messages, along with patronising comments and sentiments about our plight and “you have our support” and even “try again next year”, which incited all of us. 

The players left and our current committee has locked up shop. 

All so sad, but alarming for the game.  No winners here but rival codes.

Our club has serious misgivings of the Group 16 direction. 

Closing doors where they should be opening them; applying restrictive criteria on clubs and towns already in survival mode on several fronts; options of portability and co-sharing unsustainable and flawed. 

Been there and done that. 

Players will be the first to tell you that 40-minute drives x 2 x 2 nights poses serious time and cost constraints. 

On top of this the idea that players/towns can be directed and channelled into chosen avenues is manipulative and flawed. 

Big issues need big thinking.

There is growing support for a smaller inter-town model to be activated.  Exciting potential and interest to date. 

We owe our town, youth and the game this opportunity with no assistance/barriers needed from the Group.

This letter will be circulated to CRL, NSWRL, media outlets, social media and supporters

Yours in Rugby League

Tathra RLFC Committee 2016



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