MACLEAY’S rugby league community is in shock after Group 3 announced it had voted to permanently suspend the Mustangs from the competition.
A press release sent to The Macleay Argus from Group 3 secretary Barrie Smith on Wednesday said in part:
"... the Macleay Valley Mustangs RLFC is to be suspended from playing in the Group 3 Rugby League on a permanent basis".
This followed a meeting on Tuesday night of the Group 3 Board of Management.
The press release said "ongoing breaches of the National Code of Conduct" led to the decision to exclude the Mustangs from the 2015 competition.
However, Mustangs management told The Argus late yesterday that any move to ban the club from the competition would be strongly contested.
President Dave Fernando said he would attend a meeting with Country Rugby League CEO Terry Quinn next Thursday or Friday to discuss the development.
In September, the Mustangs were crowned the 2014 premiers in what was their debut season in Group 3.
The Argus was told the 2014 premiers had been served three breach notices in the season for matters relating to the National Code of Conduct.
Punishment for a breach of the code can include the loss of criteria points, which all Group Three clubs were issued under the Group Three Entry Criteria Policy.
After one of their players was involved in a verbal altercation with a referee during a game at Wauchope, the Mustangs received a five-point penalty.
This was suspended, but then reinstated following comments on social media from members of the club.
Group 3 alleged the comments included accusations of bias and racial comments.
This followed the Group 3 presentation night when only a handful of Mustangs picked up awards, despite the team winning the grand final.
In addition to the five points, a further punishment was issued which resulted in the Mustangs losing all 10 criteria points and the subsequent decision by Group 3.
The Mustangs are expected to present a case to the Country Rugby League outlining why they should be allowed to stay in the competition.
CRL regional manager for the east coast Kevin Hill said early yesterday that he had already been contacted regarding the case.
Club patron and Kempsey Shire mayor Liz Campbell said it was important that rugby league in the town be played the right way and that Kempsey continued to support the game.
"We need to find a solution to this problem, which will take a lot of good people working together to ensure that our local community has the opportunity to play rugby league into the future as we have many players with great potential, as shown by the team's on-field performance she said.”