RIVERINA'S four major sporting codes have welcomed the NSW Government's decision to allow senior sport to resume next month.
The NSW Government ended a long and anxious wait on Wednesday morning when it announced adult community sport could recommence from July 1.
It means the Riverina's winter codes can all get their seasons started after the COVID-19 pandemic shut sport down for three and a half months.
AFL Riverina, Group Nine, Football Wagga and Southern Inland Rugby Union are all now awaiting further advice from the NSW Government around specific details, including crowd numbers, canteens and bars.
But early indications are that crowds of up to 500 will be allowed at outside venues, while the NSW Goverment said food and drink premises in 'stadiums' can open, subject to the same requirements that apply at pubs, clubs and restuaurants.
AFL Riverina hope to unveil the plan for it's seasons later this week but had earlier earmarked a mid-July return.
AFL Riverina chairman Michael Irons said the clarification surrounding crowds and facilities is now the final missing piece in the puzzle.
"It's a positive step and it gives us some certainty around planning for a season," Irons said.
"We'll obviously await the detail around the return to play guidelines, especially around the crowd, canteen and bar facilities."
AFL Riverina's working parties for the Wagga and District juniors, as well as Riverina and Farrer Leagues, met on Wednesday night to plan how the 2020 seasons would look.
"That was to formulate some information to go to clubs but with the announcement (on Wednesday) we'll hold off a couple of days in the hope of receiving the return to play guidelines so we can distribute that all information at one time," Irons said.
Group Nine chairman Peter McDermott is now more hopeful of starting the competition on July 18 after the announcement.
Clubs will meet on Saturday to get a better gauge on the impact of the coronavirus crisis and work out a way forward.
"I see it as a positive," McDermott said.
"Crowds are still going to be the thing that I think will worry the clubs with revenue through the gates."
Group 10 and Group 11 both made a decision to call off all senior football competitions on Tuesday night, just hours before the government handed out the green light.
McDermott was surprised by the timing of the announcement but hopes it can help see rugby league played in the region.
Temora have already withdrawn and Cootamundra are expected to follow but McDermott is confident the board would proceed with an eight-team competition.
"It would be a board decision with the clubs but if they still want to do one round I'm pretty sure the board would be happy to run with that," he said.
Southern Inland president Warwick Grant believes the new timeframe is on schedule with plans they have put in place for a July 18 start.
All clubs have returned to training and he hopes to have a new-look draw released dependent on the number of teams clubs will have.
"By the end of the week we are hoping to have more feedback on what teams clubs will have and can work out draws accordingly," Grant said.
Football Wagga president Tony Dobbin welcomed the news, which allows clubs and players to approach a season start with some clarity.
"It's great news. Clubs can now work toward our planned start date (July 18)," he said.
"Last week we came up with draft ideas assuming it will start on July 18.
"From our viewpoint it's great there's a date and we can think about starting.
"We can now talk to our clubs properly and talk to councils (about use of grounds). There's a few things still to come out like return to play guidelines, do we allow spectators, are there restrictions on change rooms and toilets, things like that. But that's not the main game.
"It's great news and once a ball is kicked most of the issues recede pretty quickly. At least we're starting.
"Socially it's great for players and parents.
"The other aspect is it gives clubs certainty about saying to their players we have a season. Anyone who may have been shaky or not real sure (about playing), they might attract a couple of players back who may have disappeared. "