Months and months of preparation, and meticulous planning, were washed away in one foul swoop at the weekend.
Following more than 100mm of rain, in one downpour alone, organisers of the 2021 NSW Touch Junior State Cup were forced to cancel the prestigious Northern Conference at Port Macquarie.
The decision was a devastating blow to the hopes of the Hunter Valley’s 1200 young players, with the Beresfield Bandits, Newcastle City Knights, Wallsend Wolves, Maitland Redbacks, Nelson Bay Neptunes, Singleton Storm, Muswellbrook Mambas and Scone Breakers fielding in excess of 80 teams.
NSW Touch Association (NSWTA) staff were optimistic play would resume on Saturday morning (20 February), but further rainfall and flooded surfaces at the Regional Sports Stadium and Tuffins Lane precinct, forced their hand.
The organisation worked on several scenarios to contest the remaining 378 games before the finals.
However, to further complicate the circumstances, the Public Health order in place – and restriction of no more than 3000 people on the grounds at any one time – dramatically impacted its ability to mange field conditions and movement of matches.
“Unfortunately, we’re in a position where we cannot conclude the event,” a NSWTA spokesperson said.
“The various situations that had been worked upon, there is no suitable outcome to play just one day, Sunday, and get all the games with the available fields and ensuring that we also are COVIDSafe compliant.
“With regret and sadness, we had to abandon the remainder of the 2021 NSW Touch Junior State Cup Northern Conference.
“We know this decision will cause disappointment, frustration and, in some case, anger.
“Please understand that it was not taken lightly or without due consideration of all possible alternatives.
“We can also say the disappointment of the players, coaches and parents is undoubtedly shared by the staff.
“They’ve put in countless hours over the past three months with numerous complications due to the COVID-19 environment we currently live in to put this event together for the kids.
“It indeed leaves us, as it likely leaves everyone else, with a very hollow feeling.”