League blow as Rockbank says bye, bye

The Riddell District Netball League A-grade competition will be an 11-team competition this season following the withdrawal of Rockbank.

After forfeiting the opening-round match against Melton Centrals, the Rams have now quit the competition and teams will get a bye when they are due to face them.

Rams coach Tara Crisp said that right up until last week the club was hoping to field a team but would have needed at least eight A-grade players.

“Only two girls from last year’s A-grade team have come back and we’ve been unable to recruit A-grade players,” she said before the decision not to field a side.

Crisp said the club had lost about 20 girls from last year’s teams, most of them from the top side.

She said a combination of a late decision about coaches and a number of girls leaving the club because partners were moving elsewhere to play football had a massive impact on numbers.

“We’re absolutely devastated,” Crisp said.

“If we’d kept most of the girls from last season, we could have been successful.

“I reckon there was room in that squad for heaps of improvement.”

Crisp said the club had good numbers for its other three sides and she expected them to be competitive.

But while there was the temptation to promote players from these sides to A-grade, she said it would do more harm than good in the long term.

“We’re working with what we have and the three teams are strong teams and will do us justice on the court,” she said.

“I’m concerned that if we put players up into the A-grade side they could be beaten heavily every week and that would make them not want to come back next season.”

She said the Rams hoped to field an A-grade team again next season.

RDNL netball manager Kim Bailey said it was extremely disappointing that Rockbank would not field an A-grade side.

It will be the fifth season in a row that the league has not had a full complement of A-grade teams.

Broadford did not have an A-grade side last year and Sunbury Kangaroos did not field one in 2014.