ACT govt says Canberra's sports grounds will remain open

ACT govt says Canberra's sports grounds will remain open

It's game on this weekend in Canberra, with the ACT government declaring they will keep the local sports grounds open this weekend despite the rain.

They did warn some competitions or fixtures may decide to cancel, but that will be decided by clubs and associations.

A groundsman sweeps away the rain at Manuka Oval earlier this year.

A groundsman sweeps away the rain at Manuka Oval earlier this year.

Photo: Getty Images

"Although grounds will be open for weekend competition, the decision on whether to play or not will be left to the discretion of clubs and associations," a statement from Sport and Recreation Services said.

"Should ground conditions be considered marginal, it is anticipated that consideration will be given to cancelling some competitions/fixtures."

Queanbeyan Council said their grounds were also being left open, but the clubs still needed to inspect them before playing.


"It is the responsibility of each club to make sure the ground is safe to play on before any game or training," a spokesperson said.

All NEAFL, ACT Rugby Union and Canberra AFL games will go ahead, while Capital Football has made some cancellations.

Eastlake coach Anthony Bourke has called for the government to allow the NEAFL an exemption from any future ground closures following last weekend's washout.

Last Friday, Sport and Recreation Services shut down all ACT sporting grounds to ensure they weren't ruined for the rest of winter, which sparked anger among many clubs which felt it was too early and should have been considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Belconnen Magpies and Eastlake Demons game at Kippax Oval last Sunday was postponed until round 16.

It was the only NEAFL game cancelled, with games played at the Ainslie-owned Alan Ray Oval and Queanbeyan, which is controlled by the local council.

The NEAFL is trying to establish itself as a second-tier competition comparable to the VFL, SANFL and WAFL, but Bourke felt that having games called off for the weather made the competition a bit of a joke.

"I'd say that would be the best way to go, to see if [the NEAFL] could get some sort of agreement that games can go ahead," Bourke said.

"We're going into round three and haven't played a game of footy."

ACT Rugby Union's John I Dent Cup has been shortened to just 12 home-and-away rounds because of the National Rugby Championships starting later this year.

With last week's games abandoned, there are fears that losing more games would further undermine the competition.

SRS acting director David Jeffrey said the government was mindful of the effect that closing grounds could have, but stressed closures was a rare occurrence.

"The cancellation of last week’s sport was only the third time in the past 18 years that such action has been taken and was considered necessary due to the state of the grounds caused by more than 50 millimetres of rain falling on the Thursday night," he said.

The weather has forced Capital Football to relocate National Premier League fixtures between Woden Valley and Belconnen United, as well as Cooma and Canberra Olympic, to the synthetic pitch at Hawker.

David Polkinghorne

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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