NSW Country Rugby Union championships at Tamworth cancelled

UNTIL NEXT YEAR: The Blue Bulls men's and women's team will have to wait until 2021 to defend their trophies. Photo: SUPPLIED
UNTIL NEXT YEAR: The Blue Bulls men's and women's team will have to wait until 2021 to defend their trophies. Photo: SUPPLIED

The Central West men's and women's sides won't have the chance to defend their country championships crowns after the titles in June were cancelled amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The NSW Country Rugby Union (NSWCRU) board announced the decision on Tuesday, the championships having been scheduled to play out at Tamworth on the June long weekend.

While falling after the restrictions imposed by Rugby Australia - which say all rugby-related activities are suspended until the first weekend in May - the NSW Public Health Order prohibiting mass gatherings isn't due to expire until the weekend after the championships.

More than 600 players across men's, women's and colts sides from around the state, plus many more support personnel and spectators were expected to attend the event, which was to be held at Scully Park and Ken Chillingworth Oval. The news follows the decision by the country juniors board last week to cancel all of their country championships.

The Blue Bulls won both the senior titles last year, the men downing Illawarra 45-21 in an entertaining Caldwell Cup final while the women completed a scintillating campaign by crushing Central Coast 31-0 in their decider.

The Central West colts side finished its championships in fifth spot last year. "Our men's and ladies teams were highly motivated to go back to back this year, and we had excellent registered numbers for our colts, but unfortunately the Championships will not go ahead," Central West Rugby Union said in a statement on social media.

In announcing the cancellation, NSWCRU said "the decision is always a hard one as it is such a great event and opportunity for zones to come together".

"NSWCRU would like to emphasise that club rugby is the heartbeat of your communities and we will be working tirelessly with your zones to try and get competitions up and running ASAP so you can wear those club colours," the post read.

No decision has been made yet on what else will be on offer for Blue Bulls or other representative sides yet or what impact the cancellation will have on NSW Country Cockatoos selection.

This story Defence on hold for Central West Blue Bulls men and women first appeared on Forbes Advocate.