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City-Country to be scrapped after 2017

AAP logoAAP 20/11/2016 Warren Barnsley

Country Rugby League is stewing about the NRL's decision to scrap the historic NSW City-Country clash despite the promise of more games in regional areas.

The league confirmed on Monday the 2017 edition of the annual game, to be played in Mudgee, will be the last after deciding it could no longer squeeze it into the schedule.

CRL boss Terry Quinn bemoaned the decision but admitted it was the "best way to take the game forward".

"Short answer is 'no, we're not happy'," he told reporters.

"It's sad to lose this game. You look at the current Australian side and a lot of those guys got their start with the Country and the City side.

"I know we've got selectors everywhere but that test of man against man settles a lot."

NRL head of football Brian Canavan said the league was disappointed to axe the pre-State of Origin fixture but said more matches in the bush was on the table as a sweetener.

"We are determined to take more rugby league to regional NSW and other communities throughout the country," Canavan said in a statement.

"In the draw we will be releasing shortly, there will be a host of games played throughout the country and that is a trend which will continue."

It is unknown where and how many regional games will be scheduled but Quinn said the CRL would negotiate with the NRL.

"In short, we are disappointed but we're hopeful bigger and better things will come out of it," he said.

More than 8000 fans turned out in Tamworth this May as City beat Country in a 44-30 upset, with the traditional fixture also selling out grounds in Wagga Wagga and Dubbo in recent years.

But the pre-State of Origin clash was no longer viewed as a genuine trial for NSW spots, even with 2016 Blues debutants Tyson Frizell (Country), Jack Bird (Country) and Josh Mansour (City) running out this year.

The 2017 City-Country clash will be played at Glen Willow Regional Sports Stadium on May 7.

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