Casino hooker Hayden Pratt playing in the NRRRL finals last year. The competition is aiming to start in July. Photo Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus
Casino hooker Hayden Pratt playing in the NRRRL finals last year. The competition is aiming to start in July. Photo Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus

Rules around crowd restrictions the key to NRRRL return

GATE money with crowds allowed to attend games holds the key for Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League returning to competition in July.

NRRRL president Mark Harrison is optimistic about playing a shortened season but has warned it will not happen if government restrictions keep crowds locked out.

Clubs rely on the money from the gate with canteen and bar sales to cover game day costs.

All club activity has been banned since March 18 during the coronavirus pandemic.

"No crowds, no games, it's that simple really," Harrison said.

"The information we have from Rugby League NSW seems to indicate that they will lift crowd restrictions but we don't know that for sure.

"There is a financial strain and all sorts of problems associated without people being allowed in.

"I don't expect clubs to have to guard gates and keep people out; it just won't work."

The NRRRL committee had a conference call with all clubs Monday night and is aiming for a 13-round competition from July 18.

Under the current restrictions the earliest clubs could return to training would be June 30.

"We spoke to all the clubs on Monday to see what sort of position they're in," Harrison said.

"We've left them with a series of questions of what they see the season looking like and how they want it to run.

"I've asked them to have that back to us by Friday and we'll go again from there."

Harrison said he could not see a problem with the competition running through until the end of October.

He also hopes NSW Rugby League will assist financially in getting regional competitions going.

"We'll be looking at cutting some costs and hopefully NSW Rugby League will provide some relief with insurance," Harrison said.

"The more information I get from our clubs the better, so we can start working on a budget for the season.

"There is a whole range of things to work through all the way down to extending the interchange on the bench to avoid player fatigue in the opening rounds."

NSW Rugby League chief executive David Trodden said the decision to work towards a shortened season will be further reviewed and confirmed on June 1.

"The board and management of NSWRL has 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," Trodden said.



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