A NEW rugby league competition could be started in western Victoria. Ararat Kings and Stawell Devils rugby league clubs want to form a competition incorporating teams from the Horsham and Hamilton areas in 2013.
Kings treasurer Nick Sammut said he wanted to gauge how much interest there was from people in the Wimmera about a proposed Western Victoria Rugby League.
“There are plenty of people out there who would want to play and the region is screaming out for it,” Mr Sammut said. “There are ex-pats from New Zealand and people who have moved from interstate and rugby league is their original game.
“Prior to the formation of the Kings I had never played rugby competitively, just a little bit at school.
“I had been playing a bit of touch footy with some of the guys now at the Kings and from there I was asked to be treasurer of the new club.
“Rugby league is a great game to play once you get your head around the basics, and the guys have been fantastic at helping me learn the fundamentals.”
Mr Sammut said the proposed Western Victoria Rugby League competition would most likely start in May 2013.
“Given there wouldn’t be too many teams to begin with, we wouldn’t need a long season,” he said. “It would end around September. Given it’s a taxing game and there would be travel involved, we’d look to have a bye round in there.
“There is a lot of water to go under the bridge but I am confident the people involved are committed and passionate enough to do it.”
Ararat Kings acting president Kev Bowles said both Ararat and Stawell had players eager and ready to play.
“The Kings hosted Victorian Rugby League club Waverley-Oakleigh Panthers for a trial game on March 24 and put on a good show for a playing group with no match practice,” he said. “The club was formed in November of last year so I think we’ve made good progress as a club in that time despite some setbacks.
“We had been seeking to form a competition with clubs from Bendigo and Lake Bolac and surrounds, but for a number of reasons those clubs did not come to fruition.
“With no local league and no byes in the VRL fixture we’ve stagnated somewhat as a club but we still believe that we will be able to get a Western Victorian league up and running with teams from areas like Horsham, Hamilton, and possibly around Maryborough, Beaufort and Avoca as well.”
Mr Sammut said the Kings and Devils understood the challenges of forming a rugby league competition in Australian Rules heartland.
“We’re not seeking to go head-to-head against local football or start poaching players to make up our numbers,” he said. “Far from it. We think there’s plenty of room for both codes in the region. We’ve had great support locally from the Ararat Eagles Football Netball Club and they have openly encouraged us to bat on with what we are trying to do.”
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