FOR years the top handful of division 1 clubs have claimed rights over the best players in lower divisions and the statistics prove division 2 clubs such as Riverstone, Hawkesbury, Penrith Waratahs, Doonside and Rooty Hill have every right to be angry.
The Penrith Junior Rugby League starts its representative squads in the under-12s and they go right up to the under-18s.
Division 2 clubs field players in the under-12s, under-13s and under-14s rep squads but then they don’t supply a single player from under-15s to under-18s.
So where are they all going?
The stats say they are going to St Marys, Windsor Wolves, Penrith Brothers, St Clair and Minchinbury. Stories of poaching are rife in the Penrith Junior Rugby League and Riverstone secretary Brett Zale said the top division 1 clubs do a good job in luring the best players from clubs such as his, offering better facilities, cheaper fees and more apparel which can be offered with the support of larger membership and leagues club facilities.
It is not a real competition when clubs of different financial calibres have to compete.
“It’s getting ridiculous with the larger clubs being able to field three and four teams per age group,” he said. “Of course they can pick the best. The smaller clubs’ kids are sick of being beaten 50-0. This is why we’re losing kids to the great game we have.
“Kids are transferring to other clubs so they can play division 1 and when they don’t make it they quit. This subject is red hot in Penrith. Division 2 clubs are angry with the likes of St Marys, St Clair, Brothers, Windsor and most division 1 clubs, whether division 2 clubs admit it or not. I’ve spoken to secretaries and committee members from other clubs and that’s the indication I have.
We’ve got one under-14s player at the moment who’s so good he could play an age above but I bet he’ll be told by a division 1 club if he plays with them he’ll make a rep side.
“We had an under-10 player and parent approached by one of the above clubs just last week.
“How do we become a division 1 club when this is happening?
“People say there’ll be no competition in the future if this continues. There’s no competition now. You just have to look at the competition in 2012. The Junior League was still regrading in round 7 out of a 14-round season and I’ve never seen as many mercy rule games across the board in every division and every age group.”
Will any of his club’s Penrith representative development players in the under-12s or 13s be at Riverstone in two years’ time? “Probably not.”
Penrith Waratahs’ secretary Chris Byrne said division 2 clubs do feed the division 1 clubs which can result in a loss of talent. “But we’d rather see that happen than hold them back,” he said. “It makes it hard for division 2 clubs to hold these players but we can’t do much to change it. However, there are caps in place and this does allow for some appropriate movement.”
Both St Marys and Windsor officials deny their clubs poach players but the stats tell an interesting story. In the under-12s rep squad 15 per cent of players are from St Marys. By the time you get to the under-16s, St Marys players make up 37.5 per cent. And 35 per cent of St Marys players in rep sides this year didn’t start at the club.
St Marys coaching co-ordinator Peter Bowler said it wasn’t his club that went out of its way to lure players from other clubs to theirs: “We don’t poach players”.
“Everyone says we give them pushbikes to come and play and everything. Their managers tell them they have to come to a place like ours to play rep football. Penrith Junior League even tells them they have to play division 1 footy.”
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.