Despair for country rugby league clubs
LOWOOD Tarampa Rugby League club president Michelle Dixon claims no amount of support for the Valleys Dragons could have saved her club's senior team from extinction.
The Stags and fellow country battlers Rosewood Roosters have been booted out of this year's senior Ipswich Rugby League competitions.
But they don't know what else they could have done to appease the Rugby League Ipswich (RLI) management committee and Ipswich Rugby League (IRL).
"I was all for it," Dixon said of Valleys Dragons.
"I've got two under 11s and by the time they're old enough the Valleys will be a fabulous side.
"But I can't force the players to play for a club they don't want to.
"I was going out of my way to get this to happen, for my children
"We've put ideas forward for the last few years about how things could be done better."
Ipswich Rugby League Chairman Jack Rhea maintains it is not too late for the clubs to field teams in the IRL senior competition this year.
That is despite a letter being sent to Lowood Tarampa saying no club from either it, Rosewood or Laidley would be accepted.
Part of Dixon's despair comes from the mixed messages the country clubs were getting, from the IRL, RLI and the Valleys executive.
It seems little has changed.
"You couldn't take anybody's word for it," Dixon said of what her club was being asked to provide to keep a senior team afloat.
"Minutes of meetings weren't recorded correctly.
"They only put in what they wanted."
Rhea disputes Rosewood and Lowood Tarampa's assertions they have tried to get behind the Dragons.
Rhea pointed to the example of the Challenge Cup competition, which ran in 2011-13, as the IRL's attempts to support the country clubs.
He claims its failure and declining player numbers, mean the country clubs are not sustainable in the long term.
"Their junior numbers are dropping away," Rhea said.
"They've got no future.
"They're going nowhere.
"They couldn't win the second division of the second division
"We're providing them with the opportunity to form one strong club with a junior pathway.
"Last year they had no junior sides in the top grade.
"We asked them to get on board with the Valleys concept but they chose not to."
Support would have entailed nominating people for the Valleys committee on Monday as well as providing financial support.
But an RLI letter form Jan 6, stating no senior teams from Lowood Tarampa or Rosewood would be accepted in 2015, seems to support Dixon's claims that the rules were constantly changing.
Either way, it seems there is no going back now.
FOR Roosters patron and Ipswich City Councillor David Pahlke the situation reeks of the administrators failing to grasp what the country clubs mean to the communities they represent.
"We have the Rosewood festival each year," Pahlke said.
"And you should see the pride a kid has walking down the main street in his Rosewood jersey.