The spotlight focuses on Grafton this weekend in Retravision Northern League, with Grafton Ghosts, leaders of the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition, taking on their new Clarence River rivals, the Grafton Rhinos.

The Rhinos are something of a ‘reincarnation’ of the South Grafton Rebels.

They say on their website: “The formation was the result of a joint committee being formed in 2006, by the South Grafton Rebels and the Grafton Ghosts, to investigate the possibility of one club from Grafton being formed. 

“The findings of this committee were presented to both clubs and unfortunately there was no resolution to this matter. 

“A meeting of interested rugby league followers in early 2007 resulted in a steering committee being formed. 

“The steering committee met on numerous occasions and called for nominations in writing for executive positions for the new club.”

However, those negotiations fell through, and, after 92 years, the South Grafton Rebels RLFC joined forces with the Grafton Rhinos.

Matches between the Ghosts and the Rebels were always … well, keenly fought, to put it mildly, and there’s a renewed tension between the Ghosts and the Rhinos, especially after a report in this week’s Grafton Daily Examiner.

Nine young players who played with Ghosts last year but signed with the Rhinos have been forced to sit on the sidelines this year because, after announcing they wanted to switch back to the Ghosts, they have been told by the Rhinos they won’t get a release unless Ghosts commit to merging with the Rhinos next year.

According to the Daily Examiner, the players only signed with the Rhinos so that the club could show the CRL that they had the player numbers to be included in the competition.

It seems there’s still plenty to be done to sort out the matter, but let’s hope that commonsense prevails, on and off the field, and both clubs look to further the game in the Clarence.

The Rhinos face a tall order against the Ghosts, who are leading the competition along with Byron Bay Red Devils.

The Bay face a tough match this weekend, taking on Lower Clarence Magpies at ‘the coliseum’ at Maclean Showground.

There’s another good clash looming, with the Mullumbimby Giants at home to Marist Brothers.

Points: Byron Bay 14, Grafton Ghosts 14, Marist Brothers 12, Mullumbimby 10, Tweed Coast Raiders 10, Kyogle 8, Grafton Rhinos 6, Lower Clarence 6, Casino 5, South Tweed 5, Cudgen 4, Ballina 2, Murwillumbah 2.

This weekend’s draw:

Saturday, May 30

  • MULLUMBIMBY V MARIST BROTHERS, 3 Grades, 3pm start, Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby. First Grade Kick Off   5.45.

Sunday, June 1

  • GRAFTON GHOSTS  V GRAFTON RHINOS, 2 Grades, 1pm start, Frank McGuren Park, Grafton. First Grade Kick Off   2.30.
  • TWEED COAST V SOUTH TWEED, 2 Grades, 1pm start, Les Berger Field Field, Cabarita. First Grade Kick Off 2.30.
  • MURWILLUMBAH  V CUDGEN, 3 Grades, 12  Noon Start. Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah. First Grade Kick  Off  2.45.
  • BALLINA V KYOGLE,  3 Grades, 12 noon Start, Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina. First Grade Kick Off  2.45.
  • LOWER CLARENCE V BYRON BAY, 3 Grades, 12 Noon Start, Maclean Showground, Maclean. First Grade Kick Off 2.45.