The Riddell District Football Netball League will consist of nine teams next season, with the departure of the Western Rams confirmed.
The Rams submitted an application to join the Western Region Football League, with clubs of that league voting last Tuesday to except them into the competition. The club’s netball teams will also play in the competition.
Rams’ president Stephan Lalli-Cafini said to be officially a part of the WRFL is a relief.
“It was a late decision to go but it was still two to three months of really, really hard work and close work with the WRFL,” he said. “As soon as we got that nod it was certainly a weight of the shoulders.
“We’re super excited, we’ve been preparing as if we were going into the WRFL, we were uncertain about our future in the RDFL, player wise.
“So we went out and went hard to retain as many players as possible, but in saying that when speaking to new recruits it was based on going to the WRFL because it wasn’t worth saying we might go.
“It was here’s your contract, it’s a WRFL contract, if it doesn’t work out then you’re free to go and explore options elsewhere.
“So it’s definitely a lot less stressful now knowing that all the players are locked in.”
RDFNL chief executive Jordan Doyle said he was pleased to see the club find a new home and continue their club’s rich history.
‘’After two months of discussions with the Western Rams FNC Committee and the WRFL, the RDFNL are pleased that the Western Rams FNC have a future in the WRFL for 2024 and the club leaves the RDFNL with our very best wishes for their short and long term future,” he said.
“The Rams committee outlined to the RDFNL in early October, that their netball program in 2024 would be a diminished version of what it had been previously and that the club was in no position to field the four mandatory teams that make up the football-netball competition.
“With that information and considering how strong the Rams’ netball program had been, the decision to move to the WRFL was somewhat of a logical one considering the struggles of the football teams over a long period of time.
“With that said, given the club’s on field battles in football and minimal netball prospects for 2024, the league was in full support of this move and the club leaves with the league’s best wishes.”
In the league statement it said the RDFNL has shown over the past three seasons that the league can run a vibrant and sustainable nine team senior competition and with the introduction of the Kyneton and
the departure of the Western Rams, the 2024 season shapes as one of the most even and exciting seasons for a long time.
The RDFNL is set to have an increase of senior clubs in the coming seasons, with memorandum of understandings with Gisborne Rookies and Eynesbury to move into the senior ranks in 2025 and 2027 respectively.