Group 9 JRL changes to benefit Tumba Batlow Minor League

Group 9 JRL changes to benefit Tumba Batlow Minor League

Less travel and a renewed focus on grass roots participation is set to benefit Tumbarumba Batlow Minor League (TBML) in 2022. 

Following the Group 9 Junior Rugby League’s (G9JRL) Annual General Meeting (AGM) earlier this month, Ian Mortimer was elected the new Chairman and certain changes were announced. 

The GPJRL Southern and Northern pools have changed, with the Greens remaining in the south. 

Their opposition will change though, with Albury and the four Wagga clubs including Wagga Magpies, Turvey Park Bulldogs, Wagga Brothers and both Kangaroos Red and Kangaroos Blue joining the Greens in the South.

For Tumbarumba, the new draw will see less travel, with the once-off trip to Albury their longest of the year, and apart from a cross-over match against Gundagai, the Greens will either play at home, or in Wagga for the remainder of the season. 

“The draw will be kind to Tumbarumba,” said TBML President, Derek Smith. 

“There will be less travel. Our away trips will be five to Wagga, one to Albury and then there will be a crossover game against Gundagai.

“We will play a club-on-club format and that suits us.”

A similar proposal was put to the G9JRL board last year, but was rejected at the time, and Smith was pleased to see it voted in for the 2022 season. 

Ian Mortimer, who has taken over as Chairman of the governing body from Bernie Delaney, explained why the Southern Pool was changed to include all four Wagga teams and why Tumbarumba remained in the Southern Pool.

“To be honest, there are a hell of a lot of changes in terms of the structure, and us wanting and needing to bring it back into line with what the governing body (NSW Rugby League) wants,” Mortimer said. 

“All of Wagga and Albury and Tumbarumba will play together in that Southern Pool, and Tumbarumba were included in that group because they are out there on the wing, and we thought we would bring them in and look after them.

“If we didn’t, they would have had a lot of travel.”

For competitive age groups, teams will be playing for Southern Pool bragging rights, before an ultimate weekend of grand finals between the winners of the Southern and Northern pools.

“Southern and Northern competitions will play club-on-club for the season, along with their crossover matches, and then there will be two weeks of Southern and Northern finals, before the winners play in a grand final,” Mortimer said. 

The G9JRL administrator said competitive rugby league wasn’t his committees focus in 2022 and that increasing participation and creating an enjoyable environment was at the top of their list. 

“The purpose of the draw, and keeping in mind we didn’t create the draw, is to promote participation and reduce travel,” Mortimer said.

“We are more focused on participation and we want to get more kids focused on the game with a positive experience and we know we can give kids a better experience and get more playing time with this draw.

“The competition side of it is a great bonus, but we need to get more players on the field.”

Mortimer didn’t shy away from the fact that the new G9JRL Southern Pool structure would be beneficial to their largest market in Wagga.

“From a Wagga perspective, it’s an enormous change,” Mortimer said. 

“For our population, which is easily the biggest in the competition, we are expecting a fair increase in numbers. 

“I’m kind of tied up with the Wagga Magpies, and to give you a comparison of what our draw does, we travelled 1400km last year and we had seven away games over eight weeks and that was very tough on the club. 

“This year, we go down from about 1400m to about 350km travel in the season and three potential away games.”

While the likes of Wagga, Temora and Albury have already indicated they would be hosting inter-town rugby league competitions to complement their commitments to the G9JRL competition, Mortimer wanted assure players and parents that the competition, from under 6s to at least under 14s, would be a club-on-club competition. 

“More importantly, for the Southern and Northern pools, we are not splitting families,” Mortimer said.

“The message from the clubs was that they wanted to stay together and they wanted less travel, and with this draw, I think we are offering that. 

“Obviously in 15s, they will need a different competition structure because there are not as many teams, but at the guts of it all, we will be playing close to home, limiting travel for parents and keeping kids and families together.”

Mortimer will be joined by new and familiar faces in 2022, with Young’s Ben Mott now G9JRL’s Treasurer and Vice President and Mick Kirkman has stayed on as Secretary, while the likes of Luke Hazel, Kurt Hinchcliffe, Dean Guymer, Pat O’Toole and Chris Beal are all on the board. 

“We have a collection of a lot of good people driving the board and things won’t be my decision, but a collective of bringing the best minds together and making the best group decision,” Mortimer said. 

Group 9 JRL board

Chairman – Ian Mortimer 

Secretary – Mick Kirkman 

Treasurer and Vice President – Ben Mott

Luke Hazel – Temora

Kurt Hinchcliffe – Temora

Dean Guymer – Temora

Pat O’Toole – Cootamundra

Chris Beale – Harden