The NRL has announced a 20-round restructure of its competition for when it restarts following the coronavirus shutdown, after finalising negotiations with broadcasters this afternoon.
- There will be an additional 18 rounds added to the two that were completed before the suspension of the season
- It is unclear if the grand final will be played at the SCG, given the October 25 date will clash with the men’s T20 World Cup
- The State of Origin series will be held following the grand final
The rejigged draw includes the two rounds already completed, meaning an additional 18 will be played should the season return as planned on May 28. A breakdown of those 18 rounds has yet to be announced.
The grand final is scheduled for October 25, with the lucrative State of Origin series to be held in the weeks following.
The NRL made the announcement on the same day it handed out hefty fines to four players — Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, Tyronne Roberts-Davis and Nathan Cleary — for “bringing the game into disrepute” by flouting social distancing laws amid the coronavirus pandemic.
NSW Police also charged Mitchell and Addo-Carr with firearms offences.
Where the grand final will be staged is also unclear, with Australia scheduled to play its first pool match in the men’s T20 World Cup at the SCG on the Saturday before the season decider.
With Sydney’s Olympic stadium due to begin its reconstruction in June, the smaller western Sydney stadium could be an option for NRL officials.
The NRL’s innovation committee will aim to put the finishing touches on the new-look season when it meets on Wednesday.
All competition points earned before the season were suspended will remain.
The development comes after more than a week of talks involving the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC), Nine Network chief executive Hugh Marks and Foxtel counterpart Patrick Delany.
“Today is a landmark day for rugby league in 2020,” ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said in a statement.
It is unclear how much revenue the new schedule will generate.
The remuneration details are critical, with the Warriors agreeing to fly from New Zealand to Australia for an indefinite period due to travel restrictions.
The league is hoping the Warriors will arrive in Australia on Sunday and self-quarantine for two weeks in Tamworth in northern New South Wales.
The club has yet to officially receive exemption to enter Australia, or been given permission to train while in isolation.
All 16 clubs have been told to prepare for a return to squad training on Monday, giving teams three weeks to train before the season resumes.
“It’s safer now to play then it was in round two when we were playing,” V’landys said.
“The daily infection rate in New South Wales was 25.79 per cent when the last game was played. It has been now less than 1 per cent in New South Wales for the last 18 days and is continuing to drop.
“There has also been a significant improvement in the recovery rate, being 75 per cent in New South Wales and 83 per cent in Australia.
“Our players will be safer under our protocols than they would be as regular members of the community.”