In a surprising announcement out of Australia, the ARL have announced that they intend to restart the NRL on the 28th May 2020 “if coronavirus restrictions are eased.” The NRL season was suspended after just two rounds in March, and would have missed 8 weeks of action if it can be restarted on the last weekend of May.
Australia has been relatively spared the brunt of the COVID-19 cases, with speculation about climate, a more distributed population, and quicker closing of borders being touted as some of the potential reasons.
Australia has currently had 51 deaths, and just over 6,000 cases of COVID-19 so far.
However if the NRL were to recommence in May it would be a major surpise with most professional sports leagues in the world already announcing suspensions until at least June. While the last weekend in May is obviously not much earlier than that, the announcement has been met with much suprise.
NRL looking to add certainty
While making the announcement ARL chairman Peter V’landys said “Today what we landed on was a starting date. [We want] to give as much certainty as we can in uncertain times”.
“There is clear evidence the curve is flattening. The NSW Government has done a great job in reducing the infection rate from 22.27% when we suspended the competition to 1.43% today.
“The situation is changing dramatically and we need to get moving. It is in the best interests of our clubs, our players, our stakeholders and importantly our fans that the competition resumes as quickly and as safely as possible.
“We have said right from the start that what we say today may need to change tomorrow. We will be flexible, and if the trend changes or if government restrictions change then so will we. The health and safety of our players and the general public remains the absolute priority.”
The structure of the competition has yet to be decided, and a restart is still dependent on the COVID-19 restrictions being eased.