League to stay in age divisions

GYMPIE Junior Rugby League president Ross Groundwater says the club will not replace age groups with weight divisions, despite growing pressure for clubs to make the transition.

Groundwater confirmed Gympie Junior Rugby League’s stance on the issue yesterday amid a raging national debate calling on junior league clubs to revert back to weight divisions.

“It’s a tricky issue because there are good points on either side of the argument,” he said.

“But weight divisions are not something the club has discussed and we absolutely will not be introducing them.”

The call for weight divisions to be implemented is based on concerns that larger children were putting players with smaller frames at risk.

Additionally, it is argued the game is suffering as a consequence, with smaller players dropping out at a young age.

It’s a problem that is becoming more evident as league juniors of islander descent, in particular, tend to carry a natural physical advantage.

However, Groundwater said solving the issue with weight divisions would inadvertently create a new problem.

“Pushing these younger players up into older age groups to play within their own weight division is a dangerous situation in its own right because they don’t have the skills,” he said.

Groundwater said junior league operated under modified rules preventing players from tackling above the armpit. These modifications to the game make junior league “statistically the safest” of the football codes.

The junior league president used the issue to remind parents of the dangers of waiting before allowing their kids to play league.

“There is this interpretation from parents that if their child wants to play league, then it’s best to wait until they are older and bigger.

“But this actually does more harm because they fall behind with their skills.”

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