HOPES DASHED: Action from the 1st grade qualifying semi-final between Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton Rebels at Frank McGuren field.
HOPES DASHED: Action from the 1st grade qualifying semi-final between Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton Rebels at Frank McGuren field. Adam Hourigan

GHOSTS DENIED: Grafton left disappointed after NSWRL snub

RUGBY LEAGUE: The Grafton Ghosts' hopes of a Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League return have been dashed after their application was denied by the NSW Rugby League board this week.

Grafton had undergone preparations to take their application to the NRRRL AGM on November 11 but the newly formed NSW Rugby League board sent an email stating that they were to stay in the Group 2 competition for the 2020 season.

"I am writing in reference to the Grafton Ghosts application to enter the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League 2020 competition,” the NSWRL email read.

"At its meeting on October 23 2019, the NSWRL Board considered the submission from Grafton Ghosts to play in the 2020 competition.

"The NSWRL Board determined that Grafton Ghosts are to remain with the Group 2 Rugby League for the season 2020, however, favourable consideration may be given to transfer in 2021 if fresh application is made.”

Danny Wicks playing for the Grafton Ghosts in NRRRL action in 2011 after serving a stint in Glen Innes prison.
DENIED: Danny Wicks playing for the Grafton Ghosts the NRRRL in 2011, not long before they shifted douth to Group 2. Contributed

Ghosts president Gary Gillespie was confident in a return to the NRRRL but those hopes were smothered after the brief response.

"It's very disheartening.

"We've put a lot of work into the application and have been very thorough with it all but we've been shut down,” Gillespie said.

"Under the rules, you can apply to change groups. We filled out all the paperwork and made moves to go there but what is now NSWRL have said we are unable to apply.”

Gillespie stated he had discussed the potential move with NRRRL club representatives and the general consensus was that they would welcome the application but the chance had now gone begging.

"Personally I think we would have been accepted, we had backing from NRRRL but NSWRL have made the call that we are to stay for 2020.

"There was no real explanation of why we weren't able to apply,” he said.

Gillespie stated that the Ghosts have responded with the hope of further explanation as to why they are unable to continue with the application but for now, life goes on for Grafton.

"We are awaiting explanation from NSWRL and the regional manager of East Coast Dolphins. It stated that we would have favourable consideration should we apply next year so we need clarification on that,” he said.

"On top of that, we have never been asked by the hierarchy why we wanted to change.

"Our priority now is to worry about the 2020 season. Hopefully we can find success again and just play football.”

The Ghosts hosted their AGM on October 30 and will announce their coach for 2020 on November 18 with sponsors night on November 23.