As you know, last month it was decided by the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL), in partnership with the NRL and State governing bodies, to postpone community Rugby League and other Rugby League competitions and activities in Australia until at least the first weekend of May. This decision was informed by advice provided by government and health organisations with a view to stopping the spread of COVID-19 virus.
Since this decision was made NSWRL has continued to review the advice provided by the State Government and Health organisations where COVID–19 updates are provided.
Guided by the latest advice, the Board of NSWRL today (22 April 2020) established a plan for a re-start of Rugby League activities from July 2020 to coincide with a common return date for some other winter sports across the state and the commencement of Term 3 in the school year.
The decision to kick-off a shortened Community Rugby League season and to re-start other abbreviated senior competitions will be further reviewed and confirmed by 1 June 2020 subject to the existing Government advice available at the time.
The decision took into consideration the NSW Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 which is currently preventing sport from being conducted and expires at midnight on 29 June 2020 (unless further extended).
Accordingly, the earliest possible return date is 30 June 2020, unless the NSW Government decides to lift the Public Health order earlier.
In line with most NSW winter sports, the NSWRL Board has agreed to a competition re-start date of 18 July 2020, coinciding with the end of the next school holiday period and start of Term 3, while allowing a return to training on 1 July 2020. This is subject to the status of the public health in the interim.
It applies to the following, in an abbreviated form, yet to be finalised:
- Community Football: to commence. The 2020 season was originally due to commence 4 April when it was postponed in March. All Clubs and Leagues are encouraged to continue to take registrations beyond the traditional 30 June registration cut-off date.
- Ron Massey Cup, Sydney Shield and Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership: competitions to resume. One round had been played when the competitions were suspended on 27 March.
In relation to the nine competitions cancelled by the NSWRL Board on 27 March, the Board has today determined that no premiers and no player of the series awards will be declared for any of those competitions for 2020. This applies to the following:
- Major competitions: Canterbury Cup NSW, Jersey Flegg Cup, Women’s Country Championships and Men’s Under 23s Country Championships
- Junior Representative competitions: SG Ball Cup, Tarsha Gale Cup, Harold Matthews Cup, Andrew Johns Cup and Laurie Daley Cup.
The Board and Management of NSWRL have been continuing to closely monitor developments with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to strictly follow the Government advice so that we will only return to playing footy when it is deemed safe to do so.
Everyone in the Rugby league community would appreciate that there is still a lot that is not known about how Australia may be impacted by this pandemic moving forward, and how all tiers of Government may need to respond to advice around risks to public health for the broader community.
This Memo therefore outlines NSWRL’s scenario for a re-start of Rugby League activities from July 2020. This guidance will be further reviewed and confirmed by no later than 1 June 2020 subject to the existing Government advice available.
Competition formats and the length of the season will be dealt with on a case by case basis accordingly to the particular circumstances of each competition.
The start date of 18 July 2020 set for Community Football across the state coincides with the end of the mid-year school holidays and start of Term 3.
This allows for teams to resume training from 1 July 2020.
All Clubs and Leagues are encouraged to continue to take registrations beyond the traditional 30 June registration cut-off date.
Ron Massey Cup, Sydney Shield and Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership
These competitions will resume on 18 July 2020, with training to resume from 1 July 2020.
We are working towards completing an abbreviated season and details around the fixture continue to be worked through.
Scheduling should however provide adequate time for players to prepare to limit the possibility of injury. This was an important consideration in planning for the seasons starting a few weeks following the end of the Public Health Order.
Communication in relation to the revised fixture list for 2020 will be circulated by Monday 22 June.
Refunds and Active Kids Vouchers
Consistent with our position that NSWRL remains hopeful of having Rugby League played in the second half of the year as outlined, it remains the Board’s view that it would be premature for refunds of registration fees to be processed at this time.
Clubs will be better positioned to make decisions on registration fees once the competition length and number of games played has been confirmed. We recommend that clubs hold on to any registration fees paid until this point, or failing that, apply the same refund policy from previous years for each individual club.
This is a position consistent with the vast majority of other winter sports at present, as we all try to work towards the best possible season in the circumstances.
Please note that Active Kids vouchers are not refundable for cash. For more information on Active Kids vouchers, click here. https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/active-kids
Given the current unpredictable nature of the world we are living in NSWRL will continue to keep all stakeholders as informed as possible over coming weeks should there be significant changes to any of the matters mentioned above. There will also be a formal update provided by Monday 1 June 2020.
NSWRL and all of us in our Rugby League community will need to be responsive to the continual changes to the government advice around risks to public health, and should it become apparent that a July date may not be feasible, adjust and reassess at that time.
Once again, we thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding and wish you the very best of health.
- Dr George Peponis, Chairman, NSWRL Board
- David Trodden - CEO, NSWRL
- BJ Mather, General Manager-Football, NSWRL
- Bert Lowrie, Operations Manager, NSWRL