News / Sport / 6th July 2023
Reserve grade comeback
For the first time in over a decade, Coonabarabran Rugby League Football Club (CRLFC) will field a reserve grade team.
With Caine Thompson at the helm as coach and Franky Capewell as team manager/trainer, the reserve grade competition is set to be an exciting addition to weekend league.
Jack Ramage got the ball rolling through NSW Rugby League after he saw an opportunity to trial a reserve grade competition last year.
The initiative was well received and momentum has only grown since then.
CLRFC secretary, Tony Cole said across the whole of the Castlereagh league competition, there was only one town not fielding a reserve grade side this year.
Mr Cole said the best thing about holding a reserve grade competition was that it attracted players who weren’t able to commit to a full season of games and training.
“It’s a short competition that only goes for around a month, so it suits those busier guys with other commitments,” Mr Cole said.
“There’s also more relaxed rules compared to the first-grade competition, which makes it more attractive for people to come and play.
“But it’s still going to be treated as a serious competition.”
Mr Ramage also commented on the benefits of the reserve grade competition, saying that the compact format was a good way to engage people who had been involved in the game for a long time, but had stepped away as they’ve gotten older.
“The shortened format, with 60-minute games and unlimited interchange, is a way for people to re-engage with the club and the community,” Mr Ramage said.
“It also gives those people who don’t think they’re quite good enough for first grade a gateway to get involved in the game.
“A good example is Binnaway - last year they had a reserve grade team, but didn’t have a first-grade side, but from having that reserve grade competition they were able to get a first-grade team happening in the Castlereagh again.”
Mr Ramage said although there was a strong group of players willing to participate in the reserve grade competition, they would always be calling out for new players to join the game.
The reserve grade competition kicks off on Saturday, 15 July, which is round 10 of the Castlereagh League competition.
The series is expected to run over five weeks, with each team getting one bye, followed by finals.
Mr Cole said that from the club’s perspective, the reserve grade competition was a good addition for clubs that were struggling with numbers.
“This year, we were unsuccessful in getting an 18s or a league-tag side - we’ve only got a first grade team,” Mr Cole said.
“So, for us to have a reserve grade side will help us get people down to watch the football.
“We welcome everyone to come down and support the Unicorns.
“We think it’s going to be a good addition, and with the way it’s growing it looks like it will be a permanent fixture moving forward with the Castlereagh League competition.”