The safety of players and supporters during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has led the Cootamundra Bulldogs to make the difficult decision to pull out of the 2020 season.
In a statement released this week, the club said; "This decision has not been an easy one for the club and we hope that we have the community supporting us, as we are now looking towards 2021 and in the planning stages for a great season."
This decision has not been an easy one for the club and we hope that we have the community supporting us.Cootamundra Rugby League Football Club
In addition to safety concerns, the club also recognised the significant challenges their sponsors have faced during the pandemic and various restrictions imposed across the business sector.
"Our sponsors over the years have been loyal and very supportive of the club and with the recent challenges of the drought and now Covid, we would like to also support them while they assist the families of our community to be financially sound during this time," the club said.
While they will not be taking to the field, the club does have a number of fundraising ideas in the pipeline, working towards a strong return next year.
The rest of Group Nine will kick off an eight-round season on July 18, 2020 - without Cootamundra or Temora, which also withdrew from the competition this year due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
Finals will be played over three weeks, culminating in the grand final on September 27 at the Equex Centre.
Two stalwarts of the Bulldogs, Aaron Byrne and Haydn Cowled, had been looking forward to co-coaching their beloved local team this season.
Instead, with Cootamundra not taking to the field, the talented duo will be pulling on a Junee Diesels jersey this year.
In welcoming the players this week, the Diesels described Cowled as "a quality forward who can play second row or in the middle when needed" while Byrne was slated as "a quality half and hooker who's leadership and game management will help boost the Diesels in 2020".
The Diesels are hoping to give the 2020 premiership a good shake with Cowled and Byrne joining other quality signings including Cook Islands Residents representative Andre Iro who is the son of former New Zealand international Kevin Iro, and Kane Hammond who has played many seasons with Tumbarumba as well as stints with Albury Thunder and Yanco Hawks.