NRL Sets Sights On May 28 Return
The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has endorsed a proposal from the Project Apollo committee to resume the NRL 2020 Premiership season on May 28.
Following the NRL seasons’ suspension due to concerns over the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic that forced travel restrictions and self-isolation laws around Australia and New Zealand, the Project Apollo planning committee was tasked with the responsibility of developing a large number of plans to resume the season.
The full proposal to resume the season at the end of May, will also see the State of Origin series and the NRL Grand Final take place in the same format as previous years.
ARLC chair, Peter V’landys, said this decision is based on current advice and government approvals and will put the league in the best possible position to avoid “catastrophic” consequences involved with continuing the suspension.
“Our goal is to give as much certainty as we can in uncertain times,” V’landys said.
“There is clear evidence the curve is flattening.
“The NSW Government has done a great job in reducing the infection rate from 22.7% when we suspended the competition to 1.43% today.
“The situation is changing dramatically, and we need to get moving.
“It is in the best interests of our clubs, our players, our stakeholders and importantly our fans that the competition resumes as quickly and as safely as possible.
“We have said right from the start that what we say today may need to change tomorrow,” he said.
“We will be flexible, and if the trend changes or if government restrictions change then so will we.
“The health and safety of our players and the general public remains the absolute priority,” V’landys said.
V’landys also confirmed the structure for the remainder of the season will only be finalised after discussions with broadcast partners, and games will still be played behind closed doors until government bans are lifted.
“We need to speak to our broadcast partners, which we will be doing as quickly as we can,” V’landys said.
“We want to come to an arrangement with them so they’re happy.
“For us we wanted something to strive to and we wanted to have a recommencement date so we can do a road map on what needs to be done.
“There’s a lot of work to be done between now and that date, however we are very confident we will get there,” he said.
“People are entitled to their view, but I have to act in the best interests of the game,” he said, discussing the critics who claim the NRL is rushing to return without sufficient government approval.
“The game needs to be played but not only for the game, but our fans, the people who have supported us for many years.
“We want to give them their relaxation and their escape back.
“The players want to play.
“They want to earn their money, it’s their job, along with all the ancillary staff that work in and around our game, there’s tens of thousands of them.
“There’s no risk to the players, why wouldn’t we do it?
“That’s the bottom line,” V’landys said.
The NRL has since confirmed this plan is subject to change, pending ongoing advice from government and health experts, to determine what Coronavirus restrictions may look like at the end of May.