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Call to arms as Sunshine Coast juniors prepare to return

The need for more helping hands is the lifeblood for ensuring the Sunshine Coast Junior Rugby League gets back on the field as early as July 24.

All clubs met with local league executives and QRL staff on Monday night to confirm they want to be visionaries in getting the greatest game of all back playing on the coast, so the call to arms has now being dispersed to guarantee the boots can be laced up again in just over five weeks' time.

"It's no secret that it's going to be challenging on our normal club volunteers to adhere to the current restrictions and guidelines required to ensure a safe return to play as well as their usual duties, so the emphasis has been put on the need for parents to spare a hand for an hour or two to help their local club get back on the field," SCJRL chairman Cameron Herbert explained. 

He, along with the League and clubs, have been committed to finding a way and has worked tirelessly since the QRL's Return to Play announcement in late May.

"Obviously there's been toing and froing for the last few months now as the information has been constantly changing from the government with the easing of restrictions," Herbert said. 

"But we've worked closely with our team of QRL staff here who have really been a great asset in providing information to the League and the clubs to get us to the July 24 decision that we made on Monday night.

"All clubs were in agreeance to pursue this date to give us the best possible chance for our juniors, particularly the under 13 to under 16s to get on the field to begin with.

"We have withheld our decision for the under 6 to under 12s until June 29 in the hope of restrictions easing further to help get them on the field."

Although the competition format nor season structure has been finalised yet, Herbert said this was to allow time for clubs to assess their current situation and viability. 

"Over the next couple of weeks, clubs will go back to their individual teams to engage with their members to ensure they have the willingness and commitment from their players and coaching staff to return," Herbert said.

"Once the League receives an indication of how many teams are going to be in each age group, we can start planning the format and season structure.

"It's been indicated that not all teams will participate due to each club's individual needs and viability given the situation, however we will still hold a competition even if not all clubs have entered a team in that particular age group.

"If some clubs opt not to enter teams into the competition, the League fully supports their decision to withdraw due to the situation."

Herbert is anticipating a home and away season for clubs with clubs already planning how they'll make their venue COVIDSafe.

"Currently we are looking at a home and away season as we want to give every club the opportunity to host games with the optimism that further down the track, restrictions are further eased to give the opportunity for clubs to create revenue in the latter part of the season," Herbert said.

"Clubs have already begun planning how they are going to adhere to the current protocols outlined in the QRL Handbook, particularly as most have either begun or are preparing to begin training in the next week.

 

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"We've all agreed that this will give us a good month minimum to bed down the necessary protocols and guidelines at each club and see what's working and what isn't before the season starts.

"Communication is going to be key during this process so we'll constantly liaise with each club to see whether they will have the capacity for a home and away season or maybe who will be able to host home games first as a few clubs might be better equipped to host their home games early on."

The Sunshine Coast Junior Rugby League is hoping their hard work and determined, forward-thinking approach will allow junior rugby league to feature until mid-October.

"With the continued easing of restrictions and the number of COVID cases reducing, we put this plan in place in anticipation for the restrictions to ease further that will enable most of our clubs to take to the field with as many Sunshine Coast Junior Rugby League players possible so we can see the 2020 season played through till October 17," Hebert said.

Click here to find your local club and volunteer for the upcoming season.