A special meeting of the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) Board has agreed to postpone all Community Rugby League until at least 1 May 2020, effective immediately, while all major NSWRL competitions have been suspended until 31 May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision was made by the NSWRL in partnership with the National Rugby League (NRL) and all affiliated states, and after carefully considering the advice from widespread consultation with NRL Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Bloomfield, government agencies and other key stakeholders.
NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said the recommendation covers all Rugby League matches, trials, training, courses and other club activities in NSW and is made with the health and wellbeing of players, coaches, staff, officials and volunteers and the broader community as a paramount consideration to assist in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Community Rugby League, which involves more than 100,000 grassroots players across NSW, from Under 6s to open age, was due to kick-off on 4 April, but will now be delayed until at least 1 May.
NSWRL’s 13 major competitions, most of which started last weekend, with the exception of junior representative competitions which kicked off in February, have been suspended until 31 May. The later date will allow teams to train and prepare earlier in May if Community Rugby League is cleared to resume.
These competitions include: Canterbury Cup NSW, Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, Jersey Flegg Cup, Ron Massey Cup, Newcastle Business Plaza Cup, Sydney Shield, UNE SG Ball Cup, Laurie Daley Cup, Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup, UNE Harold Matthews Cup, Andrew Johns Cup, Women’s Country Championships and Men's Under 23s Country Championships.
In relation to the Canterbury Cup NSW, the NSWRL has decided that given the complexity of travel restrictions, the Warriors should not participate for the rest of the season.
Trodden said: “I have discussed this decision with the Warriors CEO Cameron George and he supports the decision.
“Beyond that we haven’t decided anything with regards to the other suspended competitions.”
He said that given the fluidity of the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic the NSWRL will continue to monitor and review the position based on expert advice and will communicate any updates regularly.
“Above all else, our priority is to protect the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and supporters, as well as the broader community,” Trodden said.
“The situation regarding COVID-19 continues to change daily and we are very mindful of the need to be prepared, and take the practical, necessary measures required to maintain hygiene standards.
“At the same time, we also need to remain calm, and not add to any sense of public panic.
“The NSWRL will continue to actively monitor the situation and is committed to making decisions in relation to COVID-19 and its impact on Rugby League activity based on the advice from the Federal Government and other medical experts.
“The NSWRL will continue to provide updates on its position to the football community as the latest information becomes available.”