Lower Clarence Magpies' Dale Eamens against the Byron Bay Red Devils last season.
Lower Clarence Magpies' Dale Eamens against the Byron Bay Red Devils last season.

BIG CHANGES: NRRRL shaping up for new-look competition

RUGBY LEAGUE :The dominoes continue to fall for sport in the Clarence Valley with the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League the next to announce their return.

While the Grafton-based sides had been informed of a Group 2 return last month, the Lower Clarence Magpies have been waiting in the wings and their time has finally come.

The NRRRL Board of Directors announced on the competition’s Facebook page on Friday that the season would commence on July 18 after all 13 clubs confirmed their “unanimous support”.

“After the announcement last week from NSW Rugby League, the Board of the NRRRL have now had the opportunity to talk to all clubs regarding the 2020 rugby league season,” an NRRRL spokesperson said.

“It is with much pleasure that on behalf of the NRRRL, we can confirm that the 2020 season will commence on July 18, with all 13 clubs confirming their unanimous support.”

The NRRRL is looking at splitting the competition into two pools with a grand final set for October 18.

“The draft plan is to run a 10-week competition for all grades over two pools which allow each club to have five home games,” it said.

“The finals format is yet to be confirmed, however, we will look to hold the Grand Final on October 18. Local derby’s will be important for our clubs which is the main reason for the two pools being implemented.”

The Ballina Seagulls celebrate after defeating Murwillumbah in the 2019 Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.
The Ballina Seagulls celebrate after defeating Murwillumbah in the 2019 Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.

The NRRRL acknowledged the ever-changing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensured they placed the health and safety of all stakeholders as a priority moving forward.

“NSWRL and everyone in our rugby league community needs to be responsive to the continual changes to the government advice around risks to public health for the broader community, and if it becomes apparent that a July start date is not feasible, we will adjust and reassess,” it said.

“The commencement of the competition is subject to the relevant advice from government and health authorities at the time, the framework completed by the Australian Institute of Sport around guidelines for playing and training and the approval of the NSWRL Board upon their next review on June 1.

“This will include the crowd numbers that may enter our grounds and we are confident, based on what has been planned and is being discussed at NSWRL level, that our crowds will not be too heavily impacted,” it said.

While the NRRRL board has been quiet over recent weeks, it ensured stakeholders it has been hard at work to ensure the competition went ahead in 2020.

“The NRRRL Board feel it is our responsibility to plan for the season going forward and do whatever we can to make this happen and we are aware that all clubs are excited to be able to re-engage with their communities through sport,” it said.

The NRRRL said the likely resumption to training for clubs be on July 1, when social distancing restrictions were set to be lifted.

“This year’s competition as mentioned, will be different. It will be up to our clubs, our players, and our spectators to make it as successful as it can be,” it said.



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