The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) and the National Rugby League (NRL) has announced it will suspend the 2020 season until further notice.
The NRL announced this decision is in response to both medical advice from Australian government health officials and biosecurity experts, and travel bans introduced by the Queensland and New Zealand governments, as COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to put a stop to all non-essential activities.
ARLC chairman, Peter V’landys, said the decision is devastating for Australian rugby league, but it was the only realistic decision.
“This is a dark day in our game’s history,” Mr V’landys said.
“But we had to take this unprecedented action as there was simply no other option.
“We have always said we would continue but only as long as it was safe to do so.
“When the advice tells us we can no longer guarantee player safety because of the rapid rate at which infection is spreading, we must act accordingly.
“We will monitor the advice daily and recommence when it is simply safe and prudent to do so,” he said.
NRL clubs had already started to ask staff to take annual leave, long service entitlements, leave without pay or simply be made redundant before the decision was made to suspend the season for at least six weeks.
The NRL has told up to 85 percent of its employees to take leave until at least May 1 with essential staff still working to manage the current situation as it develops further.
NRL CEO, Todd Greenberg, said the decision is an enormous challenge to the game’s future, but rugby league will endure it, no matter it’s length or severity.
“Our game has never faced a challenge like this,” Greenberg said.
“So, while this is a tough day for our game, we know it is a tough time for everyone across the entire community.
“But we respect that the increasing risk means we must act to protect our players, staff and the community.
“The impact of this decision on those who work within rugby league will be significant.
“All we can do as a sport, and a community, is remain united and follow the expert advice to keep ourselves and our families safe,” he said.
“So, while we cannot say with certainty what the future holds, I know the rugby league community as a whole will work through this as a team.
“We are all in this together and we will get through this together,” Greenberg said,
The Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) are currently in negotiations with the NRL regarding pay cuts for players, with an agreement expected to be reached by the end of the week.
Players and coaches have already started proposing ideas for the NRL’s State of Origin series, the highlight of any season in the eyes of many fans, with state coaches Brad Fittler and Kevin Walters both saying they would be happy if the competition was played in the middle of summer if necessary.