Local rugby league clubs are wondering what will come of the 2020 district football season after the National Rugby League’s announced its plan to restart competition next month.
All community-based competitions were suspended nation-wide until the first weekend of May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cronulla Junior Rugby League Chairman Nathan Waugh said he thinks games will be played this year.
“At this stage, I expect there will be a season. From reports I’ve heard there is a heavy push from the government for a season to go ahead,” Mr Waugh said.
Although Waugh was optimistic community rugby league will be strong when the season is allowed to commence, he expected there will bean impact.
“We fear that we may lose teams in our older age groups because of this. In terms of younger kids I don’t think there will be any issues. I think they will be as keen as mustard to get on the paddock,” he said.
“In terms of changes, my guess is that the season will be short and there may be restrictions on how crowds congregate potentially at the ovals.”
Sutherland Pirates life member Bob Cummins said clubs would struggle with the social distancing restrictions if local competitions were to restart.
“The clubs have really got to have crowds to function and be viable. We couldn’t be like the NRL with TV rights and big sponsors because the crowds are what we survive on,” Mr Cummins said.
Cronulla Caringbah Sharks caretaker Charlie Bate said he misses the game more than ever.
“Footy was the thing that really kept me going day-to-day, but I’m still at the club house every now and then getting rid of the cobwebs or sweeping the sand out of the canteen area,” Bate said.
Bate is one of many junior rugby league volunteers who have dedicated a large portion of their time to supporting the club and the teams during the pandemic.
Bate. who has been a member of Cronulla Caringbah league club for more than 50 years, said he was worried about the message the NRL’s proposed restart would send to young players.
“I think the kids miss it most and if the NRL gets started again well the kids will say why can’t we play and I think that’s a good point,” he said.
“The game’s not bigger than anyone else, so I think all the clubs and players should just have to wait and see what happens.”
Cronulla Junior Rugby League said it was in a position to financially assist struggling clubs.
"Its the thing that really kept me going day to day…" Cronulla Caringbah rugby league life member Charlie Bate talking about how he still spends 2 to 3 days a week cleaning the clubhouse despite the competition being suspended due to coronavirus. @UOWTV #uowcreative pic.twitter.com/2QnYm8roA4
— Ethan Rix (@The_Grix) April 15, 2020