WHAT is another three weeks when you've already been waiting 18 months?
Group 3 rugby league clubs on Monday night voted by the narrowest of margins to delay the start of the 2021 season to the weekend of May 1 and 2.
However, the competition-proper will still be played over 17 rounds. This will push the date for the grand final back to Sunday, September 26 - the latest finish in the group's history.
The competition was due to start on Saturday April 10, however a combination of factors caused by wet weather and flooding would have made this difficult.
Most clubs have been unable to train because of closed fields while Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has told the group the Port Macquarie Regional Stadium will be out of action until late May. The stadium has been flooded twice this year.
Port Macquarie Sharks and Port City Breakers both play home games at the stadium.
Seven clubs attended this week's meeting, with Macleay Valley sending an apology. The meeting was originally called to discuss NSWRL concussion protocols to be introduced this year.
Group chief executive Mal Drury confirmed there was a lengthy debate on the matter. The vote was restricted to the seven clubs present and excluded group board members.
"It was very close,'' Mr Drury replied when asked the result of the vote, although he wouldn't reveal full details.
Mr Drury said matches on round three (May 1 and 2) would now become round one. The group will use a spare weekend on July 17/18 to play the original round one.
Round two will now become round 17, forcing the start of the semi-finals back a week.
Mr Drury conceded there was some opposition to playing on the spare weekend and no support for playing on the June long weekend, when no matches are scheduled.
"We now don't have any free weekends,'' he said.
"If we get a wet weekend where all the matches are called off, the round will be cancelled. If only one or two games are affected then we'll have to find another date to play - probably mid-week.
Mr Drury said the majority of clubs wanted to play 17 rounds, although there was some discussion to reducing the season to 14 rounds.
The group's season launch has been put back a week to Friday April 16 at the Wingham Services Club. Mr Drury said the women's tackle competition, originally slated to start on Saturday July 31 will also be put back a week.
The draw will have to be amended to cover for the unavailability of the regional stadium. Mr Drury hopes to have a copy out to clubs this week.
What else is happening in news, sport?
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: