Junior rugby union players in Narrabri and the wider Central North region will compete in a new-look competition this year, and its benefits are already evident.
The Narrabri under-14s side will play in a nine-team Friday night competition.
The season starts on Friday, May 18, with the Blue Boars playing at home under lights.
Under-14s coach Chris Fowler said that both he and his team were excited for the coming season.
The side will play a total of four home games throughout the season, out of a total of 13 matches.
Two games will be played in Tamworth, with the rest to be played just an hours drive away in Gunnedah, Moree or Coonabarabran.
While all matches in the 2018 competition are currently scheduled to be played on Friday nights, Fowler said that the possibility of playing some games following first grade matches on Saturdays was being considered.
The 2018 competition has replaced the old format, which saw under-14s play at the junior carnivals.
The new competition has already had a positive effect on junior rugby in the region.
At most carnivals last year the under-14s age group would see just three teams compete, and one would often be made up of a mixture of players from several clubs.
Fowler said that more teams would create more excitement.
“I think it’s going to be very different,” Fowler said.
“There’s nine teams, normally on a Sunday gala day there would be three, so it’s positive that way.
“We have a good culture here.
“For Tamworth trips we will try to organise a bus and make it a bit of fun and something different.”
Fowler also welcomed the competitive nature of the competition.
Eight of the nine teams will qualify for two separate finals series.
A points table will be kept, and at the end of the regular season the top four teams will play for the cup, while the next four will contest the plate.
“It’s good because we are actually playing for something now,” Fowler said.