NRL suspend season due to COVID-19 |


The NRL is suspending their season after fighting tooth and nail to avoid the coronavirus pandemic, which is wreaking havoc across the globe.

The competition will be shut down effective immediately in the wake of Queensland closing its borders on Monday afternoon.

It proved a bridge too far for NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and ARLC chairman Peter V’landys who fought doggedly to host the opening two rounds in empty stadiums despite large parts of Australia shutting down.

“As we said from the outset, the paramount consideration in our decision-making process has always been the safety and the health of our players. Unfortunately that has taken a dramatic turn today,” V’Landys said.

“Our pandemic expert and our biosecurity expert has said due to rapid rate of infection we can no longer guarantee the safety of our players.

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“We are (not yet) going to put a time period to the suspension, we are going to look at every available option to us in the next week or so as to how we can recommence the season, be it in other areas, be it in North Queensland.

“All the options are still on the table.

“This decision hasn’t been taken lightly. We had no other option.”

The decision comes just 24 hours after the AFL, which announced on Sunday afternoon they were suspending their season until at least May 31.

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The NRL was keen to move every club to a town in Queensland as a last-ditch effort to save the competition but then the state announced they were closing their borders.

If officials had pushed ahead and Queensland imposed a 14-day quarantine policy on new arrivals then another 12 clubs would have joined the New Zealand Warriors in being banned from seeing their family.

The NRL are set to lose hundreds of millions of dollars and there are grave fears the suspension will spell the end for several clubs.

“This is a financial crisis. The biggest financial challenge the game will ever face in its history,” V’Landys said.

“We will do our best to keep all our clubs viable. We’re a family.”

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V’Landys cited welfare concerns for the Warriors who can now fly home to New Zealand, and Greenberg said they were not late on the decision.

“We’ve said from the start with this evolving pandemic that the case today could be different tomorrow, and the case was this hour could be different to the next hour,” Greenberg said.

“We would not have reached this point unless conditions had shifted so dramatically, and so exponentially.

“It is indeed a deeply sad day, but one of the most responsible days in our game’s history.”

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her cabinet made the decision to close borders on Monday after the state confirmed 60 more cases of the disease, taking its tally to 319.

The federal government closed all non-essential services from midday on Monday, including pubs, clubs, gyms, indoor sporting centres, cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos and nightclubs.

The NRL has closed its headquarters until May 1 and the players won’t train until further notice.

“There will be a lot of uncertainty among our players and we will try to give them as much support as we possibly can,” Greenberg said.

“The impact of this decision on those who work within rugby league will be significant.

“While I say it’s a tough day for the game, we know it’s a tough time for everyone across our community.

“There is much fear and uncertainty among all of us about what the future holds.

“These are indeed difficult days, and I know not having rugby league as an outlet will ensure some people are more isolated and it will disappoint many.

“We’re in this together, and we will make sure we get through this together.”

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