In a decision that surprised many rugby league pundits, New South Wales Rugby League announced on Friday afternoon their decision to cancel their nine major rugby league competitions.
The competitions that will be postponed until at least 2021 include Jersey Flegg, SG Ball, Laurie Daley Cup, Tarsha Gale Cup, Harold Matthews Cup, Andrew Johns Cup, Women’s Country Championships and Men’s under 23s Country Championships.
Tumut Blues and Riverina Bull representative Joe Roddy was disappointed that he wouldn’t be playing anymore in the Andrew Johns Cup this season but is now focusing on being fit and ready for when community rugby league returns.
“Yeah it’s not good after all that effort we put in and for all of that to go to waste,” Roddy said.
“Now we just have to get on with it, maintain our fitness and wait for rugby league to come back,” Roddy said.
NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said the governing body had no other option but to take this course of action in light of the ever-changing coronavirus situation.
“It is devastating for everyone involved but the advice has changed dramatically since we suspended these competitions nine days ago,” Trodden said.
“We have an obligation to be part of the solution for this pandemic, both for the rugby league community and also for the community more generally.”
Trodden admitted that the size of these nine competitions made it impossible for them to commence, let alone be completed in such a small window of time.
“The likelihood of a shortened season in which to conduct the bigger competitions like Canterbury Cup NSW (NSW Cup) and Jersey Flegg Cup was also a factor, as the narrow window of opportunity to resume and complete the competitions meant it was not viable to go ahead,” Trodden said.
The NSWRL Chief Executive explained that community rugby league still had a chance of being played in shorter time frames.
“This issue is not as big of a concern for some of our other competitions and community football that can still be conducted over a shortened timeframe or as gala days or mini carnivals,” Trodden said.
Trodden said that the coronavirus pandemic could still change and impact those smaller competitions but wanted to remind everyone that rugby league is an important part of society and could very well have a place in the aftermath of this unprecedented event.
“We will continue to monitor the situation daily and review the status of our other competitions as circumstances change and updated information becomes available,” Trodden said.
“We are also aware that rugby league can play a role in the healing process of the community so when it is safe to play, we hope to give our players, volunteers, coaches and officials the opportunity to get back to doing what they love, even if it is for a shortened period of time.”
In regards to other major NSWRL competitions, no final decision has been made as yet regarding Ron Massey Cup, Sydney Shield and the Harvey Norman women’s premiership.