Group Nine Rugby League part with tradition and switch grand final to Saturday night

ALBURY Thunder has backed Group Nine’s decision to switch the grand final to a Saturday evening.

In a major shift from tradition, the board has decided to move the grand final from Sunday, September 10 to Saturday, September 9.

Albury Thunder celebrate the 2014 premiership at Wagga's Equex Centre.

Albury Thunder celebrate the 2014 premiership at Wagga's Equex Centre.

Thunder president Rick O’Connell praised the decision to experiment with the fixture. 

“We actually recommended they play the preliminary final on a Saturday night to get a feel for it but they have decided to go the whole hog,” O’Connell said.

“I’m open to it.

“I think it’s a good idea.”

The board will meet with the 11 clubs next Wednesday night to officially ratify the change.

The first grade match is scheduled for 6pm at Wagga’s Equex Centre.

“There has been a drop off in attendances and crowds and the Sunday factor may have been a reason for that,” O’Connell said.

“Being on a Saturday night, it frees up the weekend.

“The Ovens and Murray has jumped from a Saturday to Sunday and I just think you have to give it a go.

“It makes sense to me.”

The Ovens and Murray’s grand final will be played on Saturday, September 23.

Long-time Group Nine president John Morton said the move had been years in the making.

“It’s something I thought was worth trying,” Morton said.

“It is an unknown quantity but I’m sure sponsors think it is a better idea.”

The move was expected to be locked in this week, but Wednesday night’s State Of Origin has forced officials to put the meeting back a week.

The shift has generally been well received by clubs.

Southcity football manager Matt Ward doesn’t believe the move will have a big impact.

“I don’t think there will be much difference,” Ward said.

“It wouldn’t both us either way and while traditionally Sunday is the go you have to change with the times.

“If they think better crowds or be better supported then I’m all for it.”

Gundagai secretary Martin Hay was another who could see the merit in the change.

“I'm all for trying different things and you have to move with the times,” Hay said.

“Hopefully it’s a success and it’s good to see board trying things.

“By that time of the year is not too cold to have it at night.”

Morton said gate takings would determine if the change continues in the future.

Southcity defeated Gundagai 22-18 in last season’s grand final at Wagga’s Equex Centre.