Queen's Birthday break makes way for WDFNL interleague

THE traditional Queen's Birthday long weekend bye will be a casualty of the Warrnambool and District Football Netball League's return to interleague competition in 2013.

League president Justin Balmer confirmed after Wednesday night's annual general meeting it would join the country championships interleague competition next year.

The league last played an interleague match in 2006, albeit a stand-alone game that wasn't part of the championships.

Balmer said the WDFNL had committed to only one year in the championships with a match against neighbouring Colac and District league scheduled for May 25.

But to accommodate the interleague match, the WDFNL had no choice but to scrap its June long weekend bye, he said.

The league expects to open its 2013 season with a split round, starting with the annual Good Friday match between Merrivale and Old Collegians on March 29 and the rest of round one the following Saturday, April 6.

Balmer said if the league preserved the long weekend break from hostilities, its finals would be pushed back a week, leaving the grand final on the same weekend as the Hampden league preliminary final and Maskell Medal.

He reiterated the league's commitment to interleague footy relied on interest from the competition's best players and its future involvement would be reviewed after next year's match.

"We are putting our toe in the water with interleague and we want to see if we get the support from players," Balmer said.

"We were going to retain the long weekend bye and we talked about moving the finals back a week but with the grand final running into the Hampden league preliminary final, we didn't want to have to reconstruct the whole draw.

"We will test the water and we will sit down after that.

"They have to get the other players on board. We talked about it after 2006 and got burnt financially and the players didn't commit. We've decided to test the water and if the players are happy to support it, we will commit to it full-time."

Balmer said the league was preparing to field senior footy and netball sides and under 17-and-a-half footy and 17 and under netball teams in the interleague fixture.

He said the WDFNL believed the CDFL was keen on having both seniors and juniors in the respective codes playing on the day.

Balmer said the league would be eligible for a $6000 subsidy from AFL Vic Country for participating in the championships.

But he said fielding four teams in an interleague fixture would cost substantially more, budgeting $11,000.

Justin Balmer

Justin Balmer