New guidelines for Mid West Rugby League, Woodbridge Cup and Castlereagh Cup will be flexible enough to cater for the different circumstances in each competition.

Country Rugby League general manager Terry Quinn met with representatives from each of the second division competitions in Wellington on Sunday to discuss the new regulations.

He allayed fears the proposed regulations – which cup officials said would be the death of second division football – were set in stone and indicated each competition would carry its own set of rules once they were finalised.

“They went out in the press as hard and fast rules and that was never, ever, to be the case,” Quinn said.

“They were always a model to work on, to massage around and make it amicable to everyone. There’s nothing untoward, the idea is to protect all football. We’re not trying to get rid of rugby league … we’re trying to encourage it so that everyone can participate.

“We’ve got to keep first division strong, because if they’re strong the cup competitions are strong.”

Quinn said the new regulations would cater for ‘exceptional circumstances’ in each competition and be “slightly different to suit their specific needs”.

While Castlereagh Cup will continue as an amateur competition (with only the captain-coach being paid), there will be some form of payment schedule in Mid West and Woodbridge Cup.

Other controversial points in the proposed guidelines concerned excluding under-18s and stopping first and reserve grade players from joining second division clubs if they had played a set number of games in group competitions the year before. Quinn said the CRL didn’t have a problem with under-18s playing in cup competitions as long as they were “home grown” players, while he indicated restrictions on reserve grade players would be “pushed out or eliminated”.

He said the first grade clause (players ineligible to play in cup competitions after three or more first grade games the previous year) was still negotiable.

“We’d want to know why a first grade player would want to go and play in a second division comp unless he was being paid a lot of money or he’s at the end of his tether and he wants to finish his time there – that’s the sort of exceptional circumstance we’d look at,” he said.

While negotiations between the CRL and each of the cup competitions will continue, Quinn hopes the new regulations will be in place before the new season kicks off.

“But if some things aren’t locked away we’re prepared to work around that and make sure everything’s good for 2006,” he said.

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