ONE of the highlights of the Riverina rugby league year has fallen victim to COVID-19.
Next year's West Wyalong Knockout has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organisers long held fears that COVID-19 restrictions would make the weekend virtually impossible to coordinate and the club reluctantly made the decision to cancel at their recent annual general meeting.
The popular pre-season knockout attracts teams from across NSW and the ACT and always draws a big crowd for the unofficial start to the rugby league year.
West Wyalong Knockout organiser Nicole Wood explained the restrictions surrounding COVID-19 forced their hand.
"Yeah we have decided to postpone it for the year. Just with all the COVID restrictions and things that would have to come in, it would mean we would have to be cleaning the sheds 14 times and all kinds of things," Wood said
"Especially because it's going to be our 50th, we don't want to do a half-arsed job. It's a huge milestone so we want to do it right if we can do it."
West Wyalong was set to celebrate the 50th running of the knockout in February, but will now be forced to wait 12 months.
Wood said it was a difficult decision to call off the event.
"Yeah it was. We talked it over back in July, because in theory I would have been working on it from April, getting sponsorship and everything sorted, and we said we'd put it off, making a decision," she said.
"This is my favourite weekend of the year, if I could run it, I would, but it just wouldn't do it justice if you can't do it properly, especially for the town, it's good to get people to town.
"So it was very difficult, and we ended up waiting until our AGM. We ended up deciding that with restrictions as they are on the game, it would have been impossible for us to do it."
After a lean 2019, in terms of nominations, the knockout enjoyed a resurgence this year with spots filling up fast.
Goulburn claimed back-to-back West Wyalong titles back in February, downing Nowra-Bomaderry, after beating Brothers to claim the title in 2019.
Wood said the club was determined to return bigger and better in 2022 to celebrate the 50th edition.
"Definitely. Hopefully they can get vaccines and get us sorted," she said.