The NRL has suspended its 2020 season after two rounds due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The move came a day after the AFL suspended its season indefinitely
- Chairman Peter V’Landys said the cancellation would cause a “financial crisis” for the NRL
- Chief executive Todd Greenberg said the NRL would do its best to keep all 16 clubs alive
Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V’Landys said “due to the rapid rate of infection, we can no longer guarantee the safety of our players to continue to play”.
He said the NRL was unable to put a time frame on the suspension but it would continue to look for ways the season could recommence.
Chief executive Todd Greenberg said the NRL would not have made the decision “unless the conditions had shifted so dramatically and exponentially”.
“Today is a difficult day for the rugby league community, both here at head office and across all our clubs and players,” he said.
“Our priority is to do everything we can to give our game the best chance for a long and sustainable future.
“We have briefed all of our clubs this evening and all of our players have now been told.
“For now we’ve asked our players not to turn up to training tomorrow while we resolve the situation as best as we can.”
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The NRL’s decision came a day after the AFL suspended its season indefinitely.
It also follows similar moves by a host of other sporting bodies, from the professional level down to the grassroots.
The NRL had floated a plan to host games at Gladstone’s Marley Brown Oval. (ABC News: Rachel McGhee)
Mr V’Landys said the cancellation would cause a “financial crisis” for the game.
“It’s probably the biggest financial challenge the game will ever face in its history,” he said.
“I can’t guarantee it will be in the same way [in the future] as it is at the moment.
“No-one can tell us how long it will last.
“In 24 hours it has changed dramatically. The next 24 hours it could change even further.”
Mr Greenberg said the NRL would do its best to keep all 16 clubs alive.
“We will do everything in our power to ensure every single one of our clubs remains viable and exists,” Mr Greenberg said.
“We have some pretty tough decisions to make in the next few weeks.”
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‘This is bigger than sport right now’
Before the announcement, Hussan Vally, an epidemiologist and senior lecturer in public health at La Trobe University, said continuing the competition would risky.
“This is bigger than sport right now, we’ve all got to make some really hard sacrifices for the benefit of the whole community,” Associate Professor Vally said.
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“We should be avoiding all close contact.
“This is why the Prime Minister changed the rules; because people don’t realise we are on the cusp of something incredibly damaging to society if we don’t take this seriously.”
He said while the players wanted to keep playing, the infection of just one player would have made continuing the season impossible.
“Strict advice to stay more than 1.5 metres away from all people means we obviously shouldn’t be playing football, playing any sport,” he said.
“If we do the right thing now we can see an amazing pay off and save a lot of lives.”