The New South Wales Rugby league announced this week the cancellation of a number of its major competitions, marking the second year in a row that lower-tier leagues and players that populate them are left stranded during some of the key years of their development and growth.
Newly minted General Manager for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Phil Gould, has proposed a plan to NRL bosses Andrew Abdo and Peter V'landys for a summer competition to be run prior till Christmas for these affected players and teams.
Here we go .. https://t.co/tkzyMFbOow
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) August 11, 2021
The competitions that have been affected by the cancellations include The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership, Jersey Flegg Cup, Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield.
In Gould's proposal, which he spoke about on his podcast Six Tackles with Gus for Wide World of Sports, he holds the view of running a competition through November and December for NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg players who haven't been able to get on the field since the competitions were halted in early July.
Gould said that the idea has received a "really good reception".
"It gives some incentive for those fellas who haven't been training to keep training, and prepare themselves for a November competition.
"I think for a lot of our younger players, we're seeing a bit of it this year, a lot of fellas introduced to NRL who haven't played a lot of football over the last two years.
"There would be even more if we waited until next March before we could expose them too it."
This impact as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic isn't new for these competitions, who similarly battled with lock-downs, restrictions and cancellations during the 2020 season.
"It's the second year in a row that they've had very limited football," Gould said.
"They had very little last year and not much more this year, it's very difficult for everyone across the game, development wise, having kids that have missed their age group, or missed their opportunity, or missed important years of development.
"The way things are here in Sydney at the moment, they can't even come together and train, they can't go to a gym, or come to our gym."
While Gould's plan has the prospect of including all the NSW clubs that were affected, he believes that even if a competition can't be organised, teams in Western Sydney (Bulldogs, Eels, Tigers and Panthers) would be eager to lace their boots up again before we clock over to 2022.
"Whether it's official or unofficial, I think we'll see some lower-grade football leading into Christmas, and even early January, as part of the preparation for next season," Gould said.
"I think that's really important, if we could get a nighttime competition for eight to ten weeks, I think that would be terrific.
"If you combined that with a women's competition, it gives the girls a chance to play too, because they've missed out on all their football now.
"We're still trying to grow that part of the game."