Oztag's Junior State Cup has become too big for Coffs
"THERE'S no room at the inn."
If Mary and Joseph rode on their donkey into Coffs Harbour this weekend they'd probably get the same treatment from local innkeepers as they did in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.
The accommodation houses in Coffs Harbour are full thanks to the influx of Oztag players, officials and spectators here for the NSW Junior State Cup.
In fact the accommodation situation this year has forced Oztag Australia officials to come up with a contingency plan for the event in 2019 and beyond.
"The decision has been made from next year that the 9s, 10s and 11s will be playing in Sydney on a Saturday and Sunday," tournament director Bill Harrigan said.
"What we think that will do is breed a culture where those kids think 'Beauty, next year I'm in the 12s and I'll be off to Coffs.
"We had to ease the pressure as there are people now staying in Macksville and Bellingen and even Grafton because they can't find somewhere to stay in Coffs. There's just too many.
"If we don't do something now Coffs will just burst."
Yesterday saw the NSW Junior State Cup kick off and the action will continue at C.ex Coffs International Stadium and surrounding fields over the weekend.
Harrigan said the increased popularity of Oztag has led to an increase in the playing standard.
"I walk away gobsmacked when I see see some of the things that I see the young players do," he said.
"I just think how on earth did they do that?
"It's like the NRL with what we see wingers do these days. They put the ball down in the corner with their whole bodies in the air across the touch line. About 10 years ago we weren't seeing that and it's the same with these juniors and some of the amazing things they do."
Another aspect Harrigan is thrilled with this weekend is the forecast of clear skies.
"This time last year we played in a heatwave and last time we were here all of the play on the Saturday was washed out," he recalled.
"Mother Nature owes us one."