The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has endorsed a proposal from its Project Apollo committee to resume the NRL Telstra Premiership on May 28.
Resumption of the competition remains subject to ongoing advice from government and health experts and continued consultation with all broadcast partners to determine the optimum way to fulfil the competition’s broadcast obligations.
Project Apollo met on Thursday morning and recommended the following to the Commission:
- The NRL Telstra Premiership resume on May 28.
- The Holden State of Origin series to be played in a standard 3-game format.
- The NRL Grand Final to be played in Sydney as a standard 1-game format.
The NRL will continue to work with governments in Queensland, Victoria and New Zealand about what restrictions may look like at the end of May.
ARLC Chair Peter V’landys said that based on current advice and government approvals the competition was ready to commence on May 28.
“Our goal is to give as much certainty as we can in uncertain times,” said V’landys.
“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.”
Project Apollo Chair Wayne Pearce said the committee’s focus was to find a pathway for the competition to resume as quickly and safely as possible.
“I want to thank everyone involved in the committee, and other stakeholders who assisted Project Apollo, for the manner in which they have attacked our challenge,” he said.
“As a game, we are all united in doing everything we can to resume the competition. Project Apollo discussed some of the most innovative ways to not only resume the competition but to revolutionise the game and the work completed will be useful for the years to come.
“There is still more work to do but we have built a strong platform to resume our game.”
When the games do resume they will almost certainly take place behind closed doors initially, in a limited number of locations, probably in Queensland.
For more news from Australia and the NRL see next Monday’s League Express.