Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders says the government push to take rugby league to regional areas has been a success, after a crowd of almost 11,000 fans packed into Apex Oval for Sunday’s historic NRL clash between South Sydney and Penrith, which was won 56-12 by the Panthers.
Mr Saunders, who is also chair of the NRL Regional Taskforce, said a total of $300,000 from the NSW Government’s Regional Events Acceleration Fund had helped secure the Dubbo match, as well as April’s clash between Manly and the Gold Coast in Mudgee.
“When I was appointed chair of the taskforce my main focus was to work with clubs and councils to bring the game back to the bush, and from a local perspective, the games in Mudgee and Dubbo have been a massive success,” he said.
“While the game on Sunday didn’t go to plan for Souths on the scoreboard, the club was very happy with the week leading up to the game, and the weekend as a whole, and I look forward to welcoming the Bunnies back to Dubbo next year.
“To see Apex Oval full of excited footy fans shows the concept is welcomed by the people of the region, and I know the weekend had a very positive impact for the business community as well.
“We had school visits through the week, a Chamber of Commerce event on Friday, a race meeting on Saturday and a greyhound meeting on Saturday night, which meant a full and busy schedule for the weekend.
“I’ll look to have a debrief with Dubbo Regional Council about some of the feedback received from Sunday, and I’ll also be working with the Mid-Western Regional Council to hopefully continue its association with Manly into 2022 and beyond.”
In 2021 six games have been allocated to regional parts of NSW, with Dubbo, Mudgee, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Bathurst and Coffs Harbour playing host to top flight rugby league.