So, after months of considering the lingering danger to the players and counting the cost, the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins, unbeaten in last year's Lower Mid North Coast rugby union competition, have withdrawn from this season's premiership.
The club, which stormed home to claim decisive victory last year behind a 30-strong playing force informed the executive officer of the MNC zone, Bob Wilson, of its decision this week.
Mr Wilson was bitterly disappointed upon receiving the news, telling the president of the Dolphins club, Damian Daczko: "Surely you could have waited while all of the final information is being received .
"This is the third time your club has changed its mind on playing.
"It is most disappointing.
"The final guidelines and restrictions have not been received and at this present time the social distancing laws are being relaxed."
Mr Wilson elaborated by saying: " It's a disgrace.
"Look at what happened when Old Bar withdrew from the competition for a season.
"This decision could come back to bite the Dolphins."
The reference to the Old Bar Clams' decision to withdraw for a season for lack of numbers after their premiership victories of 2009 and 2011 is particularly relevant to the Dolphins.
Ever since resuming, the Clams have struggled for players and are continuing to compete and remain in the competition by the skin of their teeth.
The final guidelines and restrictions have not been received and at this present time the social distancing laws are being relaxed.Bob Wilson
There was a disturbing lack of numbers in the Dolphins' ranks for the pre-season carnival at Old Bar early this year and without a junior development program providing new blood, all clubs are suffering.
The Dolphins' duo of 200-game champions, Ben Manning and Tom Harris, have enjoyed distinguished careers and are unlikely to continue on next winter.
Other senior players from last year's premiership team are considering their futures.
This ruptured lost winter can only hasten retirements.
The season's break in rugby could prove calamitous for the club and its very future.
Club president, Damian Daczko, said: "After careful consideration and discussions with the committee and senior playing group, the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins will not be competing in the 2020 Covid-19- affected competition.
"We have delayed the decision hoping that social distancing laws would be relaxed and that Covid- 19 would be contained.
"However, it is now apparent that social distancing laws will remain in place and that the risk will still be present.
"We look forward to returning in 2021 for a full, uninterrupted season."
The Kennards Hire rugby competition begins tomorrow week (July 11) with the Manning River Ratz playing Wauchope Thunder at Wauchope; the Wallamba Bulls meeting the Old Bar Clams at Nabiac and the Gloucester Cockies now having the bye.
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