GONE: The Grafton Redmen won't be taking on the Coffs Snappers this year.
GONE: The Grafton Redmen won't be taking on the Coffs Snappers this year. Contributed

Rugby comp down to five as two clubs leave

RUGBY UNION: The upper Mid North Coast Rugby Union competition has been dealt a big blow to start 2019, with two clubs not returning to take part this year.

The Grafton Redmen have decided to rejoin the Far North Coast competition while the Wauchope Thunder have been told it would be best for their club if they went back to the lower Mid North Coast competition.

This means the 2019 season will move forward with just five teams; the Kempsey Cannonballs, Port Macquarie Pirates, Hastings Valley Vikings, Coffs Harbour Snappers and Southern Cross University Marlins.

MNC Rugby executive officer Bob Wilson said it was frustrating to lose the Redmen, as they had bent over backwards to accommodate them.

"It was disappointing to hear Grafton are leaving because we went out of our way to help them when they wanted to join the competition," Wilson said.

"They let the Far North Coast down a few years ago and now they've let us down... but it's not the end of the world."

Wilson said the decision was made by MNC Rugby to send the Thunder back to the lower competition as the club still has some work to do.

As for the 2019 season, Wilson said rugby is currently strong in the region and he can't wait for the action to commence.

"Any of those five teams left could win the comp," he said.

Wilson said he has created a draft draw and it would be released within a week or two.

The 2019 competition is expected to kick off in the first week of April.