GROUP Three Rugby League will have to consider locking the season to two rounds of home and away fixtures followed by a finals series to counter any future problems caused by statewide lockdowns due to COVID-19.
Clubs originally opted for a 17 round season-proper this year. This would have started on the weekend of April 10/11 and concluded with the grand final on Sunday, September 19.
However, the group was forced to delay the kickoff due to problems associated with the March floods. This saw the season underway on May 1 and 2, with the grand final pushed back to September 26.
There were further disruptions mid-year due to continued wet weather which resulted in closed fields and deferred games. The group altered the competition-proper to 14 rounds and stuck to the September 26 grand final.
Then the statewide lockdown on August 14 caused more complications.
"COVID-19 is going to be with us next year and beyond,'' Group Three chairman Wayne Bridge said.
"We'll have to accept that and I think we have to work our season around the possibility there could be more lockdowns.''
The state government has said increased vaccination rates will lessen the chances of lockdowns.
However, Mr Bridge reasons that playing 14 rounds would give the group more of an elastic timeframe to work in should there be a snap lockdown called because of a COVID-surge.
If the grand final is originally scheduled for late August or early September, there's more scope to extend the competition should there be a lockdown.
The season would also include two free weekends, one the June long weekend, for postponed fixtures.
Mr Bridge said the season's draw is usually determined by clubs at the annual meeting held in November.
Meanwhile, he hasn't given up hope of conducting a group presentation, despite the disrupted end to this year's competition. This will be held at the Wingham Services Club.
"We'd also have to work in with any restrictions still in place, so our presentation might be smaller than we've had in previous years,'' he said.
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