As with almost every other sports league around the world, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put a halt to the 2020 National Rugby League (NRL) season. The season, which is to be the 113th season of professional rugby league in Australia, and the 23rd as the NRL, started on March 12 and played two rounds before being suspended less than two weeks later on March 23 due to the growth of the contagious disease.
The NRL is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in Australia, especially in the eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland, with the Grand Final, the league’s annual championship game, being held in Sydney, the nation’s largest city, every first Sunday of October. The reigning two-time premiers (champions) are the Sydney Roosters, who defeated the Canberra Raiders 14-8 to claim their 15th premiership title.
But just like every other sports league affected by the virus, the NRL has been exploring several ways to proceed with its season, but none as shocking, absurd, and quite honestly pretty cool, as the newest one: the NRL Players’ Union, according to the Guardian, has said that they are up to consider finishing the 2020 season by any means possible, including the shocking proposal of doing so on Tangalooma Island Resort, 40 kilometres outside of Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland and home to the NRL’s Brisbane Broncos.
The plan would see all 16 teams residing in one place, using the resort facilities, including a grassy airplane runway, to host training sessions, and using private buses to shuttle themselves to empty stadiums for matches.
According to David James, the manager of the resort, and CNN, the Tangalooma properties could be able to receive and accommodate for players in four to six weeks. The island would be on complete lockdown – only allowing resort ships in and out – throughout the campaign, and all visitors would be subject to temperature checks and COVID-19 testing.
It would almost be like a reality show, as we’ve never seen something like this in modern times. It would be quite interesting to see all 16 rosters, coaches, and management teams living in one settlement at one time. It would also be interesting to see how the players from each team interact with players from the other teams. There are so many questions about the proposal, but the positive is that it would be pretty entertaining. If hypothetically a reality show based on the 2020 NRL season is actually produced, it could possibly bring much more revenue to the league, as rugby league fans sitting at home wouldn’t want to watch anything else while they’re stuck at home. This extra money made from such a show could potentially make up for the revenue lost from abruptly halting the season.
While this proposal is being considered, players were paid for the months of March and April and if the season doesn’t resume, the players and the league reached an agreement to not receive five month’s wages.
Rugby league fans in Australia and around the world are hoping for any sort of way to continue the season, as is the league’s players’ association. Hopefully there is hope for the devastation that the coronavirus is causing on the entire socioeconomic world, including the sports world.