The fixtures for the 2018 Group 20 season have been released, and there will be a slight change to the way the competition is formatted this year.
The season will no longer be a mirror draw as it has been in previous years meaning you would play the same team in the first round of the season and then meet again in the first round of the second half of the season.
Heading into this season there will be more variety in the way the season will play out and the reason for this according to Group 20 president Mark Stenhouse is to help with junior numbers.
“We have been struggling to get kids to come through into the under 16s in some areas,” he said.
“We are trying to encourage the smaller towns like Hay and Lake Cargelligo and keep kids coming through by having the junior rugby league playing on the same day as the senior side.
“We have changed the draw a bit to ensure none of the junior’s games clashing with school holidays.”
This is a move which has been in the making for some years, and Stenhouse was pleased that all clubs are on the same page and have ‘seen the light’.
The season will start on April 14 with a Griffith derby and grand final rematch between the defending premiers Black and Whites and Waratahs on Saturday afternoon at Exies Oval which will also be the first of seven Saturday games for the Tahs.
According to Stenhouse, there could be a move to hold more Saturday games in the future to help officials.
“We are trying to aim for as many Saturday games as possible,” he said.
“It’s mainly to help with the referees who have been struggling a bit with numbers in recent years.”
The draw wasn’t the only thing to change heading into the season with Stenhouse taking over the top job from Greg Blackstock, and Stenhouse is looking forward to it.
“It’s not to bad really since the competition runs pretty smoothly,” he said.
“With good men and women in charge at the clubs, it makes the job a lot easier.
“It is just something I have progressed into even if it has happened sooner than I anticipated.”