SOUTH Coast Group 7 Rugby League celebrates 100 years this year and to mark the occasion the Group 7 Centenary Committee will launch the 2013 season this Friday at Nowra Showground, the site of the first ever Group 7 Rugby League match.
Starting at 10.30am the Country Rugby League and Group 7 will make a number of presentations including the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate 100 years of Group 7 action at the ground where the competition kicked off 100 years ago.
This will be followed by the official launch of the 2013 South Coast Group 7 Rugby League season.
In 1914 eight teams, most breakaway clubs from rugby union, formed the South Coast Rugby League competition. On May 30 Berry, Bombo, Gerringong, Jamberoo, Kiama, Kangaroo Valley, Naval College and Nowra played the opening round of competition. The first match, between the Nowra Warriors and Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies, kicked off at Nowra Showground, a match Nowra won 3-nil.
Other results from the opening round were Kiama d Gerringong 6-3, Naval College d Bombo 7-5, and Jamberoo Superoos d Kangaroo Valley 3-nil.
The first premiership was won by Gerringong after a thrilling 11-10 grand final win over the Nowra Warriors at Kiama Showground.
The league has been forced to take a couple of breaks during the past 100 years. No competition was contested in 1916 and 1917 (World War I) or 1942 and 1943 (World War II). Of the seven inauguration teams four are still competing in the competition, Kiama, Gerringong, Jamberoo and Berry-Shoalhaven Heads. The Nowra Warriors was also a foundation club, but merged with the Bomaderry Swamp Rats to create the Shoalhaven Jets.
As part of its centenary year the Magpies will take to the field this year with the shortened name, Berry. Earlier this month the club announced it would be dropping Shoalhaven Heads form its name.
Group 7 will also welcome Port Kembla to the competition following its move from the Illawarra League.
With Port Kembla joining the nine existing clubs, Albion Park-Oak Flats, Batemans Bay, Berry, Gerringong, Jamberoo, Kiama, Milton-Ulladulla, Nowra-Bomaderry and Warilla-Lake South, five games will be played across Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week throughout the 18 round competition.
Without the luxury of bye rounds this season, depth and injury management will become the key to success.
The 2013 South Coast Group 7 competition kicks off on Friday, April 12 at Kiama Showground where the Kiama Knights will face defending premiers the Gerringong Lions at 8pm.
On Saturday, April 13, the Berry Magpies will face the Nowra-Bomaderry Jets in a replay of the game the two sides contested almost 100 years earlier.
The South Coast Register will kick of its coverage of the 2013 rugby league season on Friday, April 6 with a preview of the season ahead.