Clubs divided by decision to take 2014 grand final out of Group 7’s boundaries

THE VB South Coast Group 7 Rugby League senior board of management has controversially opted to play the 2014 senior grand final at Collegians Sports Complex, Figtree on a one-year trial basis. 

League general manager Jim McAuliffe said the move would be a great promotion for the game, the board having considered many factors in its decision.

The venue has a capacity of 6000 people.

"There will be undercover grandstand seating for 1200 spectators, with off-street parking within the Collegians Sports Complex as well as Sid Parrish Park, and the facility is very accessible via the F6 freeway, while clubs will be able to enjoy state-of-the-art dual changeroom and facilities."

Mr McAuliffe said this was a commercial decision and one that was not made lightly.

However, he said the soaring costs of the group's current grand final model made continuing with it financially prohibitive.

While the move is seen as win/win from a management perspective, Group 7 clubs have voiced mixed opinions on the decision.

Berry Magpies president Gavin Rogers is one who feels it could be the way to go for the future.

“Part of me would like to see it stay in Group 7, but I think it’s a good idea to at least try it,” Rogers said.

“A few will yell and scream about it, but if you really sit down and tick of the Group 7 venues, there’s not many that are really suited to it.

“I’d love to say we could have it at Berry, but we just can’t cater for it.

Rogers said he had been known at times to criticise the Group 7 board, but fully supports their decision on this one.

“They’ve got to be able to make the hard decisions,” he said.

“I know this is a tough one, but I think it’s worth it.”

 Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs president Bert Powell could not speak on behalf of the entire committee, but personally shares a similar view to Rogers.

“It doesn’t concern me a lot,” Powell said.

“In terms of venue, most of the one’s I’ve been to wouldn’t be satisfactory.

“Ultimately it looks like it could be a good move in the right direction.”

Warilla-Lake South Gorillas president Don Kane was another in favour of the move.

"The facilities there at Collies are state-of-the-art; personally I wouldn't have a problem with it," Mr Kane said.

"The grand final was at Albion Park for a number of years. Albion Park to Figtree isn't a huge difference and if people want to go to the game then they'll go.

"Last year the grand final was in Nowra, that was a 40-minute or more drive for us and we certainly didn't lack supporters."

But a number of players and officials have expressed disappointment on the game being taken outside of Group 7’s boundaries.

Nowra-Bomaderry Jets president Dan Smith said he personally found the decision bizarre.

"There's no doubt they have top notch facilities there but I'm disappointed to see it go outside the Group 7 catchment,” Smith said.

“It would've been nice if it was put to a vote between all the clubs.

“I'm sure we've got suitable facilities at any of the Group 7 grounds.

“We had it at Nowra Showground last year and people are still raving about it.”

Smith is not alone, with Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles president Ralph Clarke also disagreeing.

"I'm not speaking on behalf of the club, though I think they would agree with me, but I don't agree with it,” Clarke said.

"We've got grounds in Group 7 that can hold a grand final, and it's the Group 7 grand final so it should be in Group 7.

"If you want to go down the track of it being a neutral ground, then we could get to the finals and look at the sides that don't make the five and let one of them host it."

Shellharbour City Sharks' Allan Cody agreed with Clarke.

"It's not going to do Group 7 any favours; it should be held in Group 7,” Clarke said.

“Where are we going to take it next year - Wagga?"

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