Woodbridge Cup is set to expand to 14 teams in 2024 with the addition of Blayney Bears and Cowra Magpies while three clubs are staying put despite being linked to a new rival competition.
The future of the Group 10 stalwarts has been up in the air in recent weeks with both clubs withdrawing from the 2024 Peter McDonald Premiership season after they failed to field teams in all four grades in 2023.
A move to Woodbridge Cup is the most likely destination with president Andrew Pull confirming they would likely be voted in at their AGM on November 29.
"I've had a coffee and a phone call with both clubs just to gauge some interest and they went to the Group 10 AGM to find out where they stood there before coming back to us," he said.
"We touched base with a lot of our clubs last year about the fact they may or may not come over and our clubs will vote on it at our AGM on November 29. I expect if Blayney and Cowra apply they will be accepted.
"Some of the old timers at Woodbridge have always said at different AGMs we never turn clubs away and we never stop them from leaving. That's what our competition is all about."
Despite the prospect of the competition growing to 14 teams stretching from Condobolin to Oberon, the previously mooted conference system was shot down by Pull.
"We talked about the conference system when we went to 12 teams two years ago when Oberon, Orange and CSU came over and all the clubs are actually against that," he said.
Staying put in Woodbridge
The concept of a Group 10 second division was raised at the Group 10 AGM on November 12 with Oberon Tigers, Orange United Warriors and CSU Mungoes all mentioned as possible participants alongside Cowra and Blayney.
However Pull confirmed all three clubs had reiterated their commitment to playing in Woodbridge and wouldn't be joining any second division competition.
"If the clubs wanted to go that way we would just move on with what we do but I've been on the blower to Orange, CSU and Oberon and they have no intentions of leaving Woodbridge Cup," he said.
"They don't know where that information has come from."
'Opportunity' for Blayney to develop juniors
Pull said one attraction Woodbridge had over PMP was a flexibility when it came to under 18s footy.
The league runs a 'youth league', stretching from ages 16 to 18 and a half with provisions in place for teams who can't always field 13 players.
He said clubs like Blayney could reap the benefits despite not having a large junior base to call upon. Bears did not field a team in the 2022 or 2023 Tom Nelson Premiership.
"There's an opportunity for Blayney to field a youth league side in Woodbridge Cup," he said.
"It's not like PMP where you need 20 gun 18-year olds to compete against each other.
"Throughout the season we have the fair play code where if you have 10 players the opposition plays with 10 as well because we are small towns that all struggle with numbers but once the semi-finals come around it's game on, 13 a side.
"It's a building competition and you get plenty of kids who are late developers and go on to become great country footballers.
"There's an opportunity for Blayney to get a youth league team together and make their club stronger moving ahead.
"If Cowra and Blayney came in we'd have a pretty good youth league competition."
Confirmation of numbers for the youth league won't be until a fortnight out from the 2024 season however seven clubs have indicated they will aim to field sides.
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