Gin Gin forward Iki Anau charging the line to score for the Hawks. The club be on the sidelines for the second time in three years with the NDRL likely to sit out because of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Neil Redfern
Gin Gin forward Iki Anau charging the line to score for the Hawks. The club be on the sidelines for the second time in three years with the NDRL likely to sit out because of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Neil Redfern

Decision is looming on whether the NDRL will return

LEAGUE: Never in the history of the Northern Districts Rugby League has the competition had a season off.

Each year since 1964 the competition has been run but this year might be the first it’s not.

The NewsMail can reveal that the NDRL will vote next week to discuss whether to pursue the competition this season.

The competition hasn’t started yet due to the coronavirus pandemic and now plans are in place to get all sports to return through the easing of restrictions.

But the new rules, the NDRL admit, make it daunting.

So much so that there are doubts both the clubs and the NDRL don’t want a return to play this year.

Instead the focus will be on next year once more restrictions are eased.

“We haven’t put it to any vote, we’re going to run a video conference late next week,” NDRL chairman Neil Redfern said.

“Once everybody has had time to digest the QRL document.

“It’s going to be a very big call to pursue under those circumstances.

“And I think that’s the same for any sport at the moment, it’s just so hyper to manage.”

At the centre of playing or returning is a Queensland Rugby League document outlining the protocols required to return safely.

Redfern said some of those requirements make it almost impossible for the sport to come back this year.

Among those protocols include no more than 100 people at a venue while activity is happening, when games are meant to come back on July 10.

The other includes no bus travelling or car pooling to and from venues.

Finally, more volunteers are needed to adhere to making clubs and grounds meet the COVID-19 requirements to play.

Most leagues were and are reserved about going forward with 100 participants, Redfern said.

“But it’s one of many concerns.

“Players just want to get out and play, we understand that.

“There’s a lot of other factors in the balance of it.”

In the NDRL instance a lack of bus travelling or car pooling would rule sides like Miriam Vale and Agnes Water out of it.

Of course individuals can travel on their own but would players do that at a fair bit of expense over the season.

Redfern said the decision would be made in the best interests of both the clubs, players and the board.

He says he is adamant that the clubs are on the same page as the board in relation to concerns over the season.

“Not one of the club chairmen I’ve been talking to thinks differently,” Redfern said.

“They’ve been more concerned about too many hurdles to jump.”

Redfern said moods might change if 500 people were allowed at venues and restrictions on travelling were eased.

But its unlikely to happen at this stage.

The NDRL is also not going to come back in summer or late spring if it cancels.

If the season is called next week there is no way to come back before next year.

A directive from the QRL in the document will instruct that all competitions be finished by October at the latest to not impact other sports that run in summer.

“We’re going to risk manage it and then come up with an outcome with it,” Redfern said.

“I want to thank our clubs that have been working hard during the pandemic that have been using everything available to them to make them keep running.”



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