Forfeit places future of league in jeopardy
RUGBY LEAGUE: The future of the Central Burnett Rugby League hangs in the balance after a player shortage forced Eidsvold to withdraw from their second match in three weeks.
The forfeit has raised serious questions over the sustainability of both the club and competition moving forward.
Behind the scenes administrators are doing all they can, but the outlook is not great.
If Eidsvold are unable to form a team next year, the competition will not survive.
Representatives from both Eidsvold and Monto are willing to discuss the possibility of a combined team, if that's what it takes to keep rugby league alive.
Melinda Thorburn from the Central Burnett Rugby League said a seismic shift in community attitudes toward grass-roots support was required to save the sport.
"Having to forfeit any game is incredibly disappointing, let alone a home game,” Thorburn said.
"There is a problem with apathy in our communities, people just can't be bothered supporting these clubs.
"We don't just need players, we need referees, coaches, committee members and supporters to ensure clubs are strong across the board.
"The fantastic people currently in those roles will die in those roles, but there is nobody coming through to take over from them.
"We do whatever we can to support the clubs and I'll go to great lengths to ensure it continues, but we can only do so much.”
Eidsvold president Noel Thompson said the Eagles' plight was symbolic of the broader issue facing rural communities.
"Population growth is what we need in the North Burnett more than football,” he said.
"The population in these towns is decreasing so rapidly.
"It's difficult to see a future for the towns let alone the footy clubs.
"It will certainly put pressure on the Central Burnett Rugby League.”
Mundubbera captain Cameron MacDonald was frustrated by the disruption to his team's finals charge, but said he was more concerned with what it meant for the future of rugby league in the region.
"Now we go into next week's game against the defending premiers (Gayndah) without a match under out belt,” MacDonald said.
"The league is struggling as it is.
"It's unfortunate for Eidsvold as a club and for the Central Burnett competition.
"I know there are a lot of people doing everything they can to get them on the field, but it comes down to a lack of numbers I guess.
"It doesn't look good.”
For decades, thriving junior ranks have helped forge pathways for players to transition into senior football.
Without a consistent junior competition it is hard to envision a sustainable future for the sport.
"Eidsvold has always been a strong rugby league town and they can certainly bounce back,” Thorburn said.
"A stronger commitment from the community as a whole is needed.
"When a team is reliant on seasonal workers to field a side, it is concerning.
"It has been done successfully for a number of years but we need more locals participating.
"The Central Burnett Rugby League will not exist with three teams.”