Central North rugby | CNRU boss Tony Byrnes has called on rugby fraternity to 'rally around' the zone

ALARM BELL: Central North Rugby Union boss Tony Byrnes warns that country rugby is in a precarious situation.

ALARM BELL: Central North Rugby Union boss Tony Byrnes warns that country rugby is in a precarious situation.

NSW Rugby Union's restructuring could have a "devastating" effect on the code at the grassroots level, warns Central North Rugby Union president Tony Brynes.

Byrnes is particularly concerned over what he regards as the likelihood that the CRNU and New England Rugby Union will soon lose the NSWRU development officer they share.

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"It's not good," he said. "It's really put grassroots rugby under threat. And the notion of the bush to the sea [rugby] concept is great, but that's resource driven as well and resource hungry.

"We're yet to see what might be put in place in the interim period [to protect that] by Rugby NSW [NSWRU]."

NSWRU confirmed this week that it had reduced its workforce by 27 per cent due to the financial impact caused by the pandemic, adding that 15 full-time and casual roles had also been affected.

It said that from Wednesday most of its staff would return to work at a reduced capacity (70 per cent of its staff had been stood down).

In confirming the restructuring, NSWRU chief executive Paul Doorn stressed that the organisation's commitment to support rugby "from the beach to bush is our top priority".

"And that is why we have retained experienced staff that can support our clubs and zones and get the community game back and up and running," he said.

But Byrnes said the development officers would stop receiving Jobkeeper payments at the end of September and would then be retrenched, "unless there's a big improvement in the financial situation" at NSWRU.

"We understand this pandemic is knocking everyone around ... but this has got the potential to be pretty devastating for grassroots rugby," he said.

He said CNRU seniors and juniors needed to put pressure on the NSWCRU to "keep us in the picture and really go into bat for country rugby".

At no other time had the zone needed the rugby fraternity to "rally around" it more, he added.

This story 'It's not good': Byrnes concerned over grassroots rugby's future first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.