Thirds separate in hopes of reducing potential forfeits

CENTRAL West Rugby Union chief executive officer Peter Veenstra hopes two changes to next year's Blowes Clothing Cup competition will reduce forfeits.

The first major difference is third grade will be a separate competition next year with only six clubs fielding sides.

Orange City, Orange Emus, Bathurst Bulldogs, CSU Bathurst, Dubbo Kangaroos and Dubbo Rhinos will all field sides in the third grade competition.

From 2013, the colts competition will change to under-20s, instead of under-19s as in previous years.

Veenstra said the smaller clubs in the region simply couldn't field four grades.

"We had issues with forfeits last season. We've addressed that and made a different draw for third grade," Veenstra explained.

"Narromine, Parkes, Forbes and Cowra obviously don't have the player numbers they need for four grades."

It means there are still 10 teams in first and second grade as well as colts.

All four grades will play 18 rounds from April 13 next year.

In 10 of the rounds, the third grade games will be the same as the other three grades.

"They'll play the same number of games and still have nine home and nine away games but won't play each other the same amount of times," Veenstra said.

"They might play three teams four times and the other sides three times."

Veenstra said the decision to move the colts from under 19s to under-20s was made in the hope it would reduce forfeits.

The CEO said he didn't expect it would be a problem for young players coming straight out of the under-17s junior competition into the senior grades.

"I don't think the hole will be as big as people think," he said.

"This year we'll get the flow-on from the under-19s. Next year will be when we see how it really goes."

Another change to the draw is the season will start and end with local derbies.

Veenstra said finishing the 2012 season with local derbies was hugely successful and the board wanted to do that again.

They hoped starting the year with derbies would mean the games would attract plenty of spectators.

Veenstra said a positive of the 2013 draw was every team would play a home game in the first two rounds.

The finals format for the third grade competition is still to be confirmed.

The ANFD Cup Northern competition will start on April 6 while the Southern draw is still to be finalised.

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