Five year ban
By GREG WHITE
GIMBISI Valley Warriors are out of Group 2 rugby league competition for five years, pending an appeal.
A marathon seven hour meeting at Nambucca Heads on Saturday sought answers as to why referee Faron Nelson abandoned the Warriors opening round clash with Coffs Harbour at Advocate Park on April 2 with 12 minutes of the match remaining.
The Warriors were charged and found guilty under Section 49(c) of the Country Rugby League constitution with 'bringing the game of rugby league into disrepute.'
"It was not something any of us took pleasure in," Group secretary Peter O'Grady said of his executive's ruling.
"But after hearing the submissions we felt we had no option but to take this course of action.
"When everything is considered it's one of those things nobody likes."
Submissions were presented by referee Nelson with Ian Trengove and Michael Hales representing the Comets.
Captain coach Gerald Bradshaw and secretary Jessica Holten pleaded the Gimbisi case.
After the verdict was delivered, the Warriors announced they would lodge an immediate appeal with the CRL.
"In fairness to all parties we are requesting the CRL hear the appeal as soon as possible," O'Grady announced.
"One possible date is April 18 and we'll also request it be heard in the local area rather than Sydney."
The Group's general committee will meet on Wednesday night when the executive will seek ratification of the landmark decision.
Early indications are approval will be forthcoming.
With the dismissal of the Warriors coming hot on the heels of Bellinger Valley - Dorrigo's withdrawal, the competition now faces several dilemmas.
Firstly, to continue with two byes each round or to redraw for the remainder.
"Can't answer that," O'Grady said.
"It's up to the clubs."
Secondly, what future there is for the Warriors players without a club to play for.
On that count, O'Grady has a definite ruling.
"Because they've mostly already played a game, no one can be cleared to new clubs until the final trade of players just before the June 30 cutoff.
"On the other hand, the clubs may decide that because this is a special case it's in everyone's best interests to meet at an earlier date and clear the players as quickly as possible."
On that score it's believed some clubs have already made contact with 'former' Warriors players seeking their services for the remainder of 2006, particularly in the under 18 grade.