PREMIERS GONE: League unhappy with AFL Victoria

“The Riddell District Football Netball League is extremely disappointed with the decision of AFL Victoria given the timing, after requesting stability during a global pandemic.”
This was the blunt reaction of RDFNL president Brenton Knott last week on learning AFL Victoria’s Objection Hearing Panel had dismissed the league’s objection to 2019 premiers Rupertswood transferring to the Essendon District Football League next season.
Knott said the Riddell League would continue on with nine senior and 15 junior clubs, and will get past this disappointment this disappointment and look forward to returning to community football and netball in 2021.
Rupertswood’s senior sides joined the league in 2013, and the Sharks had a history-making grand final day at Romsey last season, taking out the senior football and netball premierships for the first time.
The Sharks talented thrashed Wallan 21.10 (136) to 8.3 (51) in one of the league’s most one-sided football grand finals on record, and the A-grade netballers eclipsed Macedon by a goal in an absolute thriller.
Even then, there were rumours floating around that Rupertswood may be keen to join the strong Essendon District Football League. In 2019, Sunbury Kangaroos left the Riddell League for the same destination.
The push for Rupertswood to leave the Riddell League gained traction when about 80 per cent of supporters who expressed a view late last year were in favour of departing.
Rupertswood’s departure brings back memories of Jacana’s exit to the EDFL after winning the 2000 Riddell League flag.
Jacana spent 15 seasons in the league, and in 2000 lost the second semi-final by 80 points against hot favourites Wallan. In a huge form reversal, Jacana changed tactics and came from five goals down to beat the Magpies by 15 points in the grand final at Lancefield.
In a comment on Rupertswood’s departure, Jacana stated: Let’s hope its not the end of the road for such a great competition. It was always a terrific, close knit community and we thoroughly enjoyed our time when we played in the Riddell League.
Knott said the RDFNL clubs and board have been aware of Rupertswood’s desire to transfer leagues for some time, and are prepared for 2021 without them.
He also wished Rupertswood every success in the Essendon League.
Kilmore left the Riddell League and joined the Northern District League in 2016, and Broadford departed in 2019.
There has been plenty of speculation in the past couple of years about clubs which could be interested in joining the league, but nothing has materialised.
Essendon District League chief executive officer Ian Kyte said his league welcomes Rupertswood with great anticipation, and look forward to the strong club competing in senior and junior football and netball.
Rupertswood’s 2019 football coach, Nick Ash, has stepped down after six years as assistant coach and senior coach and the Sharks are expected to soon announce a new coach.
Sharks president Brad Pietromonaco said the objection panel decision was “great news for the future”of the club.
“We wish the RDFNL every success in continuing to be a viable and successful league and also thank them for giving our club the chance to grow and develop,” he said.

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