NRL 2021 COVID-19 Sydney Moore Park Outbreak - NRL Level 3 Protocols Re-Introduced in Sydney

6th May 2021

The National Rugby League (NRL) will implement Level 3 Biosecurity Protocols from midday tomorrow to safeguard the NRL Telstra Premiership from the risk of COVID-19 infection,” the statement read. All Sydney based clubs as well as the Melbourne Storm, who are currently in Sydney, must comply with the strengthened biosecurity arrangements. The Gold Coast Titans will also comply with the protocols when in Sydney on Saturday. Players, football staff and officials impacted must remain at home unless training, exercising or shopping for essential needs. Purchasing takeaway food will also be permitted. Temperature testing will take place at matches and players and officials must provide a daily report of their whereabouts. The NRL anticipates the increased protocols will be a short-term measure to protect the competition. No players or officials are currently impacted by the NSW Health advice. As an abundance of caution the Sydney Roosters squad, who are based in the vicinity of venues identified by NSW Health, underwent COVID-19 tests today.

NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the game would take no risks in ensuring the Premiership and next week’s Magic Round would proceed without impact. "These are strong measures to ensure our players remain healthy and the competition can proceed without interruption. We are hopeful Level 3 restrictions will only be implemented for a short time, but it is important to take this step as a safeguard measure, particularly with all clubs travelling to Brisbane next week," Abdo said.

The restrictions we have put in place also reduces the risk of a player attending a venue which may lead them to being identified as a close or casual contact."

The eastern suburbs COVID scare that has sent all Sydney-based NRL clubs back into level three protocols will have a huge impact on NSW Cup this weekend. Clubs were informed on Thursday that players and coaching staff must return to a bubble of some sort where they can only leave their homes for training or to shop for essential items. It means Top 30 players who are not selected to play NRL that would usually drop back to play NSW Cup will be unable to join their reserve grade teammates.

On May 5th New South Wales has reported a new local case of COVID-19. The man in his 50s lives in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and was described by Premier Gladys Berejiklian as “very active”. Genomic testing is underway to determine how he acquired the virus. The man was tested on Tuesday and returned a positive result on Wednesday morning. He was symptomatic when he presented for testing. He is considered to have been actively infectious since April 30.

APRLC Cancells Mid-Season Internationals

21st May 2021

The Asia Pacific’s best men’s and women’s international teams will turn their focus towards Rugby League World Cup 2021 after conceding mid-season Test matches in Australia could not go ahead. The Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation (APRLC) had hoped its member nations could play in late June as part of the mid-season international clashes that have quickly grown in popularity. However, the challenges of international movements created by COVID has made the mid-season Tests unviable. "We had hoped for mid-season Tests to continue to showcase the great skill of our Asia Pacific players however we understand that the situation is difficult at the moment because of the challenges of COVID,” Asia Pacific Rugby League Chairman Sandis Tsaka said. "We thank the participating international associations who worked hard to try to make this happen."

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Melbourne Indian Covid variant Outbreak

23rd May 2021

Since discovering the Indian Covid variant in the West Melbourne outbreak, authorities had been combing through the Australian database to try to find a match. Scientists at the Doherty Institute were retesting seven swabs from Victorian hotel quarantine travellers that had previously failed quality checks. They were able to finally get a "high-quality sequence" from one of them, which provided a match. That sequence came from a male traveller in his 40s, who entered Victorian hotel quarantine from Sri Lanka on May 8. He was tested that same day and returned a positive result shortly afterwards. He was moved from the Novotel Ibis quarantine hotel in Melbourne's CBD to the Holiday Inn health hotel on May 9 as a result. After finishing his 14 days of quarantine, he was released on May 23 and returned to his home in the Glen Eira local government area in Melbourne's south-east.

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Melbourne Indian variant Outbreak - Melbourne Storm remain in Queensland as Melbourne Enters Lockdown

26th May 2021

The Victorian government has announced a seven-day lockdown in a bid to curb the state's growing coronavirus outbreak. Mr Merlino said on Thursday the virus was spreading at an alarming rate, prompting the lockdown. "In the last day, we've seen more evidence that we're dealing with a highly infectious strain of the virus, a variant of concern which is running faster than we have ever recorded," he said. "The time between catching the virus and passing it on is tighter than ever so for some of those cases I've mentioned … the serial interval, that is, how long it takes between the onset of symptoms in the first and secondary case, is averaging just over a day. So unless something drastic happens, this will becoming increasingly uncontrollable."

Australia’s Victoria state authorities said on Friday they had detected the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 virus variant for the first time in the latest outbreak in Melbourne, stoking concerns of a major spike in cases. The Delta variant, which has been classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as among the four COVID-19 variants of concern due to evidence that they spread more easily, likely caused the latest devastating outbreak in India. "It is a variant of significant concern," Victoria state Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne. "The fact that it is a variant different to other cases it means it is not related, in terms of transmission, with these cases." Sutton said the new variant had not been linked to any sequenced COVID-19 infections across Australia from hotel quarantine or elsewhere.

Following consultation with the NRL, Melbourne Storm has decided to extend its camp at Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast given the current fluid COVID-19 situation in Melbourne. Storm will continue to liaise with governments, their health authorities and the NRL before making any decision on a return date to Victoria.

The Storm announced that their round 13 match on June 5 against Gold Coast had been moved from AAMI Park to Sunshine Coast Stadium.

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Melbourne Indian variant Outbreak - SOO I Relocated from Melbourne To Townsville

31st May 2021

The 2021 Ampol State of Origin series opener will be played at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville next Wednesday, 9 June. The Australian Rugby League Commission and the Victorian Government today approved the relocation of the game from the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) after the COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne.

National Rugby League (NRL) Chief Executive Officer Andrew Abdo said relocating to Townsville was the best option for the game. "We’re operating in a pandemic and our absolute priority is ensuring the continuity of the competition and our Major Events,’" he said. "Townsville has the lowest risk of a COVID outbreak impacting the game and the least financial fallout of the available venues. "Townsville is also a new, state of the art venue, with the capabilities to host an event with a global audience like Origin, placing it ahead of alternate regional locations." Mr Abdo said the game was excited to create history in Townsville. "Despite the challenges, COVID has also presented some unique opportunities, and playing Ampol State of Origin in Townsville for the very first time is another one of those occasions. The passion North Queenslanders have for our game is something special and we’re really excited to reward the region with an Origin game. I understand some fans will have wanted a neutral venue but the reality is we are working within a pandemic and we have to make decisions that ensure Origin proceeds as scheduled and with the lowest financial impact on the game. I want to thank the Queensland Government, in particular Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, for her ongoing support of rugby league. We partnered together to have 130,000 fans at Magic Round and we are looking forward creating a special Origin next Wednesday." Mr Abdo also thanked the Victorian Government and Visit Victoria for their support of Ampol State of Origin. We’re very disappointed that we can’t open the series at the MCG. We really wanted to bring a major event to Melbourne after everything Victorians have been through over the last year. Public safety is our absolute priority and given the current outbreak, it remains uncertain whether we could host a mass gathering in Melbourne next week."

NRL 2021 COVID-19 WHO Renames Variants

31st May 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a new naming system for variants of Covid-19. From now on the WHO will use Greek letters to refer to variants first detected in countries like the UK, South Africa and India. The UK variant for instance is labelled as Alpha, the South African Beta, the Brazilian variant Gamma and the Indian as Delta. The WHO said this was to simplify discussions but also to help remove some stigma from the names. The WHO declared delta a "variant of concern" in May, saying variants of concern have shown to spread more easily than others. The delta variant could potentially lead to increased hospitalizations, more strain on health care resources and ultimately more deaths. "It’s making up about 10% of our cases now. It’s easier to transmit and has a more severe illness than the other strains."

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Sydney Outbreak

16th June 2021

A locally acquired case of Covid-19 has been detected in Sydney. NSW Health said the Bondi man, in his 60s, worked as a driver and that international flight crew had been among his passengers. The man visited the Bondi Junction shopping centre in the city's east several times in recent days. It is the first locally acquired case in the state since a couple returned positive swabs in early May. Those cases prompted Premier Gladys Berejiklian to tighten restrictions including limiting household guests and banning dancing at nightclubs. Contact tracers used genomic sequencing to link the source of those infections to someone in NSW's hotel quarantine program, but how the virus made it into the community remains a mystery. It is the second coronavirus scare for the state in 24 hours after three cases were confirmed on the same floor of a quarantine hotel in the city's CBD. NSW Health authorities are investigating whether it was an instance of Covid-19 spreading among returned travellers in hotel quarantine. All three cases arrived in Sydney on the same flight from Doha on 1 June and stayed in adjacent rooms at the Radisson Blu hotel.

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Melbourne Delta Variant Outbreak - Melbourne Lockdown ends

17th June 2021

The Victoria government has eased restrictions since June 11, and in 31 local government areas in metropolitan Melbourne from June 18 due to reduced COVID-19 activity. Authorities will permit home gatherings of up to two people and their dependents per day. Public meetings can occur with up to 20 people. A facemask mandate remains in effect indoors, except at home, and outdoor areas when distancing of 1.5 meters (5 feet) is impossible. Officials will lift a 23-km (15-mile) travel limit from home, and residents can visit regional Victoria.

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Sydney Outbreak - Greater Sydney Lockdown

23rd June 2021

NSW recorded 10 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 yesterday and an additional 13 new cases overnight, bringing the number of known cases linked to the Bondi cluster to 31. To protect the people of NSW from the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, new restrictions will be introduced for Greater Sydney from 4pm today for one week. Following updated health advice from the Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant about the growing risk to the community, the following restrictions will be introduced for Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Sydney Outbreak - Queensland Closes Border to Sydney Eastern Suburbs

26th June 2021

Queensland government from 1am AEST Saturday 26 June 2021 has closed the border to Sydney's Eastern Suburbs covering the (LGAs) of Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick and the City of Sydney have had amendments to their identified COVID-19 hotspot start date. Their identified start date is 11 June 2021.

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Sydney Outbreak - Queensland Closes Border to Greater Sydney

26th June 2021

Queensland government from 10am AEST Sunday 27 June 2021 the rest of the LGAs that make up Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour in New South Wales have had amendments to their identified COVID-19 hotspot start date.

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Sydney Outbreak - NRL Return to Level 4 Protocols

28th June 2021

The National Rugby League (NRL) tonight advised clubs that all players and officials will be placed on Level 4 Biosecurity Protocols from midnight to ensure public safety and the continuity of the competition. Under Level 4 protocols players must remain at home unless training, playing or completing an essential household task. Visitors are not permitted into the homes of players or officials. Level 4 protocols are the same restrictions imposed on players and officials when the competition first resumed from the COVID-19 enforced suspension on May 28 last year.

NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the additional measures had been implemented to ensure continuity of the competition and reduce risk to the community. "When the competition resumes on Thursday night, players and officials will be under the same protocols as they were when the competition successfully resumed on May 28 last year," he said. "It’s clear the virus is spreading quickly and these measures provide an additional safeguard to ensure the competition can continue. Our players, officials and clubs united last year to ensure no risk to the competition or the community and I have every confidence the same will apply as we work through the current challenges. I want to sincerely thank the players and clubs for the way in which they continually adapt to the changing COVID environment."

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Queensland Outbreak - Melbourne Storm Return to Melbourne as Sunshine Coast goes into Lockdown

29th Jun 2021

The Storm announced on Tuesday they would return to Melbourne after seven weeks on the Sunshine Coast. Their sudden departure comes as parts of Queensland, including the Sunshine Coast, have been sent into a three-day lockdown following an increase in COVID-19 cases across the state. The premiers will fly from Melbourne to Newcastle on Thursday for their clash with the Sydney Roosters there later that night, before heading straight back to Melbourne.

Parts of Queensland will go into a three-day lockdown after an unvaccinated hospital worker, who was potentially infectious in parts of the state for over a week, tested positive for COVID-19. South-east Queensland, Townsville city, Magnetic Island and Palm Island will go into lockdown for three days from 6:00pm today, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. "We've had two extensive meetings this morning about this. We have to take the advice of Dr Young. I've accepted that advice," Ms Palaszczuk said. The south-east Queensland lockdown local government areas include the 11 which had restrictions and mask orders imposed this morning: Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Redlands, Moreton, Somerset and Logan. Townsville, Palm Island and Magnetic Island in north Queensland will also be part of the lockdown order.

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Queensland Outbreak - Sunshine Coast & Townsville end Lockdown

2nd Jul 2021

Lockdowns in most local government areas in Queensland have lifted, despite four new cases of local transmission being reported in the state's south-east corner on Friday. The snap lockdown ended as planned at 6pm for everyone except people in Brisbane and Moreton Bay, who are set to remain locked down until at least 6pm Saturday. Residents on the Sunshine Coast are among those who have regained their freedom. Lockdowns ended for residents of the Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich, Logan, Redlands, Gold Coast, Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley, Somerset and Townsville areas on Friday, people will need to wear a mask outside their homes for the next two weeks.

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Sydney Outbreak - NRL Relocates SOO III to Newcastle

7th July 2021

Newcastle will host Game III of the Ampol State of Origin series for the first time in Origin history after the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) approved the relocation of the game from Stadium Australia. Thanks to approval from the NSW Government, and support through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, the July 14 match will be played in front of up to 20,000 fans or 75 per cent of seated capacity. Fans located in Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour will not be permitted to purchase tickets. Newcastle represents a safe option for the game with no community transmission, allows fans to attend live and ensures NSW will host a home game during the series.

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Sydney Outbreak - NRL Relocates SOO III to Gold Coast

10th July 2021

The NSW Government was ensuring the current outbreak does not spread to regional NSW. While there is no community infection in Newcastle, the worsening COVID situation in Sydney over the last couple of days caused the NSW Government to believe hosting a major event in a regional community with a crowd could create additional risk to the community. Given that there will be no live crowd permitted for the event the Commission held an emergency meeting this evening and decided to move the match interstate to ensure a viable event and live match atmosphere for the final Ampol State of Origin match in the series. The decision means the Gold Coast will host Ampol State of Origin for the first time in the city’s history. A capacity crowd of over 27,000 will be allowed to attend Wednesday night’s game.

NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the game wanted to reward Newcastle’s support of rugby league, but needed to respect the NSW Government’s decision. "We are disappointed not to be able to give Newcastle the city’s first State of Origin, but we must operate within all State Public Health Orders and not having a crowd in Newcastle negates the opportunity for our fans from the region. The Gold Coast has a very low infection rate and both Origin camps are currently located within driving distance of Cbus Stadium. It means neither team will be disadvantaged by travel. This is an exciting outcome for the Gold Coast. It will be the first time in history that the Gold Coast has hosted State of Origin. The Gold Coast is an important market for us and in the current circumstances presents a safe outcome for the community and a great outcome for our fans in southeast Queensland. It does mean all three games are played in Queensland, but our priority is ensuring the safety of the community and the continuity of the competition."

NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Sydney Outbreak - NRL Relocates 12 Clubs to SE Queensland

11th July 2021

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) tonight approved the relocation of all NSW and ACT based teams to Southeast Queensland for one month to minimise risk of the Telstra Premiership being impacted by the growing COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney. NSW and ACT Teams will relocate to dedicated hubs by Wednesday and play home matches out of either Suncorp Stadium, Cbus Stadium or Sunshine Coast Stadium. All Queensland based clubs, along with the Melbourne Storm will continue to be based and play home games out of their current home cities. The National Rugby League (NRL) is finalising arrangements with the Queensland Government to ensure every club has access to appropriate facilities at each hub. Clubs will be flown on charter flights to Queensland and comply with Apollo Protocols and public health requirements to ensure no risk to the Queensland Community. Every club will be permitted a maximum of 41 players and staff while in Queensland. A revised schedule with the location of games for the next 4 Rounds will be released in the coming days. The Commission will continue to monitor the data daily and review arrangements on a weekly basis. Clubs will return to Sydney as soon as the Commission believes risk to the competition in NSW has subsided. It is possible the relocations could be longer than one month.

Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V’landys AM said the Commission’s decision minimised the risk of the competition having to be suspended and protected the livelihoods of players and the many other people who generate their income from the game. "The Commission has conducted an extensive risk assessment and it is clear from the current data trends that the risk to the competition is too great to continue playing in NSW right now. We are seeing close and casual contacts with links to our game on an almost daily basis,” he said. Queensland presents much lower risk. The Commission is doing everything we can to keep the competition going. By keeping the competition going we keep people employed and ensure the players continue to be paid at their current rate. Rugby League is also an escapism for people during difficult times and it’s important we do everything we can so our fans can continue to watch rugby league every week especially whilst in lockdown. These are very difficult decisions. I feel for the players who have to leave their homes for a period. We will not keep players in Queensland any longer than they need to be. We hope it is only for a month, but if it needs to be longer, it will be. We’re doing this to protect their livelihoods. This will also have a commercial impact on clubs. I have assured all clubs that the NRL will ensure they remain financially strong during this period. The NRL has found extensive efficiencies and commercial revenue over the last year which ensured the game is financially stronger than it otherwise would have been. I want to thank the Queensland Government. I personally have a huge debt of gratitude to the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for her support of our game."

NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the league’s Apollo Team was ready to implement the relocation. "We have planned for all scenarios and we are ready to implement hubs in Southeast Queensland to ensure the continuity of the competition. We will finalise the exact locations that teams will be based and the updated schedule in the next 24 hours. Southeast Queensland has multiple stadiums, high quality venues to train, first class hotel infrastructure and a low risk of COVID-19 infection. Our game succeeds when we work together and I want to acknowledge and thank the clubs, the players and our partners. This impacts our broadcast and commercial partners and I thank them for their assistance and doing their part to ensure the competition can continue. We will continue to work closely with our biosecurity experts to track the data and consider the risk in NSW. We will also work closely with our clubs to ensure they have every assistance they require."

After an exhaustive day of meetings in response to the surging COVID-19 outbreak in greater Sydney, club CEOs were informed on Sunday night that the nine Sydney-based outfits, the Warriors, Raiders and Knights will shift to the Sunshine State by Wednesday. Several clubs have already prepared players and staff to be ready for such a move, with the NRL requiring Apollo bubble lists of 30 players and 11 staff members to be submitted to head office. The NRL remains in ongoing negotiations with the Queensland government around the plans, which will be reviewed on a weekly basis. Canberra and Newcastle will join the nine Sydney sides and Central Coast-based Warriors in relocating to dedicated hubs that provide appropriate training and living facilities for players and staff. Melbourne and North Queensland at this stage will remain in the Victorian capital and Townsville respectively and play out of their home bases accordingly. Clubs will return to Sydney as soon as the Commission believes risk to the competition in NSW has subsided.

The hubs in Southeast Queensland for the 12 relocated teams are

  • Gold Coast (Bulldogs, Eels, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Warriors)
  • Brisbane (Dragons, Sharks, Wests Tigers)
  • Sunshine Coast (Knights, Panthers, Roosters, Sea Eagles)

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Sydney Outbreak - Victoria Closes Border to NSW and ACT

    11th July 2021

    On Sunday afternoon, Victorian health authorities ordered the effective closure of its border with NSW and the ACT, declaring the states "red zones".On Sunday afternoon, Victorian health authorities ordered the effective closure of its border with NSW and the ACT, declaring the states "red zones".

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Melbourne Outbreak - Melbourne Re-Enters Lockdown

    15th Jul 2021

    The Australian state of Victoria was ordered into a five-day lockdown on Thursday following a spike in COVID-19 infections, joining Sydney as the country's two main population hubs battle an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant. From midnight, the state of 6.6 million people was told to stay home except for grocery shopping, essential work, exercise, healthcare and getting vaccinated. The lockdown in Australia's second-largest city of Melbourne is its fifth since the pandemic began a year and a half ago.

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Melbourne Outbreak - Melbourne Storm also relocate to SE Queensland

    15th July 2021

    The Melbourne Storm will host the Newcastle Knights as part of a Super Saturday double header on the Gold Coast, after relocating to Brisbane following an announcement of a lock-down in Melbourne.

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Melbourne Outbreak - Queensland Closes Border to Victoria

    17th July 2021

    Queensland government from 1am AEST Saturday 17 July 2021, all of Victoria will be a declared COVID-19 hotspot. There are also hotspots currently declared in NSW. If you have been in a declared COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days you will not be allowed to enter Queensland, except for a limited range of people who can enter for essential purposes.

    ARLC and NZRL Withdraw from RLWC2021

    22nd July 2021

    The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) and New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) today informed the International Rugby League (IRL) and Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) organisers that Australia and New Zealand will not compete in a 2021 World Cup because of player welfare and safety concerns. The ARLC and NZRL has again requested the RLWC2021 be postponed until 2022 to minimise risk of players contracting COVID-19 and ensure the best outcome for player wellbeing. The decision to withdraw from the RLWC2021 comes after considering the risk of COVID-19 infection in the United Kingdom, the worsening environment in Australia and the time a majority of NRL Telstra Premiership players will spend away from home under strict biosecurity conditions prior to the World Cup. The ARLC and NZRL have resolved, that in the present environment the risks to athletes and officials travelling to the UK to participate in the tournament this year are too great, and it is unable to endorse Australia and New Zealand participating in the RLWC in 2021.

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Brisbane Outbreak - SE Queensland Snap Lockdown

    31st July 2021

    Queensland has recorded six new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, prompting authorities to announce a snap three-day lockdown of a large section of the state. Deputy Premier Steven Miles said all cases are the virulent Delta strain and have been linked to a high school student in western Brisbane who contracted the virus earlier this week. From 4pm on Saturday, the local government areas of Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan City, Moreton Bay, Redlands, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Noosa, Somerset, Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim will go into “the strictest lockdown that we have had”. We know from experience that this Delta strain can spread very, very quickly,” Miles said, “We must go hard and go early.” Residents in the affected lockdown areas can only leave home for essential work, study or child care, to exercise, buy food and supplies, and to receive healthcare, including being tested for COVID-19 or vaccinated against it. It also applies to all community sport and professional sport.

    NRL Returns to Level 4 Bio-Security Protocols

    31st July 2021

    The NRL has today placed all 16 clubs on Level 4 Biosecurity Protocols, after having relaxed protocols on Thursday. All clubs have been advised to inform their players at midday to return to the team hotels and remain at the team hotels until further notice. The NRL is working with the Queensland Government, clubs and broadcast partners to determine the best course of action for today’s Round 20 matches.

    The National Rugby League (NRL) after a midday 16 club hookup has postponed all of today’s(Saturday) Round 20 NRL Telstra Premiership matches. The NRL respects the decision of the Queensland Government to keep the community safe and healthy following local transmission of COVID-19 in southeast Queensland.

    Late in the evening, the National Rugby League (NRL) established an agreement with the Queensland Government for remainder of the Round 20 fixtures of the NRL Telstra Premiership to be completed tomorrow and Monday. For the duration of the Southeast Queensland lockdown, Level 4+ protocols will be implemented which include the use of one venue, daily testing of players, compulsory masks for all staff and officials not playing as well as reduced personnel at games. Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V’landys AM thanked the Queensland Government. "I want to personally thank Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, State Government officials, and in particular, Dr Jeannette Young for allowing us to present the most stringent biosecurity protocols which when implemented will ensure there is minimal to no risk in allowing our matches to be played with no crowds," he said.

    NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said he was looking forward to the competition resuming tomorrow. "Our competition will resume tomorrow with a triple header at Suncorp Stadium, followed by a double header on Monday," he said. "This will ensure we complete Round 20 and can move to Round 21 as scheduled. I would like to thank the Clubs, both players and officials for their flexibility, teamwork and co-operation in adjusting to the new stringent protocols and the revised schedule. I also wish to thank Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany and Executive Director of Fox Sports Steve Crawley for allowing the rescheduling of the Grand Final rematch as a simulcast match on both Nine and Foxtel tomorrow." Mr Abdo said the new Level 4+ protocols would provide additional health and safety insurance to the Queensland community. He also acknowledged the teamwork and co-operation of all Clubs, players and officials for their flexibility and commitment to the changes. Clubs have been advised that players or officials who make a substantive breach to protocols face being immediately removed from the competition, including being removed from the State for non-Queensland based Clubs. "Our games will be played under the toughest protocols since the competition resumed on May 28 last year. These protocols further minimise the risk of community infection. We’ve proven over the last two years that we can play safely and the additional measures agreed to tonight will further enhance that." All 5 games will be played in an empty stadium and players and officials will remain under the protocols for the duration of the lockdown.

    IRL - RLWC2021 Moved to 2022

    5th August 2021

    Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) and the UK Government have today announced their intention to stage the flagship event in the international Rugby League calendar in 2022. The extremely difficult decision was taken by the RLWC2021 Board, which includes representation from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the International Rugby League (IRL) Board. This follows extensive and urgent consultation conducted by RLWC2021 Chief Executive Officer Jon Dutton and his team, which engaged players, competing nations, the Rugby League Players Association (Australia), UK Government, hosts, commercial and broadcast partners. Tournament organisers faced several unique and complex challenges with the most significant being the non-release of up to 400 players, match officials and staff members from the NRL competition in Australia. This is despite all requests from international rugby league federations having been met which included the rigorous health measures that have been keeping thousands of elite athletes from around the world safe whilst competing in major sporting events across the UK over the last year. Ultimately this decision has been detrimental to the plans and ambitions of many of the competing nations and potential replacement teams. A key factor was ensuring that fans of Rugby League are able to enjoy the best possible tournament, which was not possible under these circumstances. We are working hard to confirm new tournament arrangements. "Today is a challenging moment for everyone involved in Rugby League, but most importantly the players and fans of the competing nations. Ultimately, time and competing priorities from others forced us to make the most difficult decision in our six-year history. However, we and the sport of Rugby League are resilient, and next year we will deliver our vision of the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup ever. We have always prioritised player voice and player choice. We have established a player working group, met with senior players and in the last few days commissioned a player survey to domestic players in Australia and New Zealand that showed more than 85% wanted to compete at RLWC2021 this year. However, following the disappointing decision of the ARLC and NZRL to withdraw, and the subsequent impact on player availability for other competing nations, it is apparent that delivering the tournament this year would not be feasible. The wellbeing of all those involved in the tournament, particularly players and team officials, has been our priority. I would like to thank the RLWC2021 Board and my team for the relentless hard work and extraordinary measures that had been undertaken to create a safe and secure environment in line with other major sports events that have been successfully hosted in the UK this year. I would also like to thank all our committed partners as well as the Rugby League community at large who have been so supportive of our trailblazing event. We appreciate the continued and unequivocal support of the UK Government, as well as the understanding of our competing nations." Troy Grant, IRL Chair, said: “I am disappointed that we’ve needed to take the decision to delay the Rugby League World Cup. Despite working tirelessly to explore solutions that would allow us to go ahead as planned, circumstances beyond our control have meant that postponing the Rugby League World Cup until next year is the strongest option for staging a successful tournament."

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Brisbane Outbreak - SE Queensland Lockdown ends

    8th August 2021

    South-east Queensland's lockdown has ended. If you're in one of the 11 local government areas that has been subject to the past week's lockdown, you now face fewer restrictions. Not all the restrictions have lifted. Masks still need to be worn at all times, unless you're out walking by yourself or with your household. You do need to wear a mask at work and when you're going to cafes and restaurants, except when you're seated. Stadiums will be allowed 50 per cent capacity with ticketed and allocated seating.

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Brisbane Outbreak - Stadium Capacity to 75%

    20th August 2021

    Stadiums will be allowed 75 per cent capacity with ticketed and allocated seating.

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Brisbane Outbreak - Stadium Capacity returns 100%

    27th August 2021

    Stadium attendance will be at 100% with allocated seating (with COVID Safe Site-Specific Plan) and patrons wearing a mask at all times, including when seated. Masks can be removed when eating or drinking and patrons must be seated to eat and drink.

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Outbreak - NRLW Delayed to 2022 Pre-Season

    8th September 2021

    The National Rugby League (NRL) will present the 2021 Telstra Women’s Premiership (NRLW) early in the New Year as part of a year-long calendar of women’s rugby league in 2022. The decision to delay the 2021 NRLW competition until the 2022 New Year provides the best opportunity to ensure 6 teams complete a safe and full season with minimal disruption to the lives of the playing group and support staff. Mr Abdo said the NRL had exhausted all options to play the 2021 season in its scheduled October timeslot. "We explored all avenues, but it is simply not possible. When the men’s competition was relocated to Queensland there were 77 cases in NSW on that day, there’s now consistently over 1000 cases a day and restrictions around border closures are much tighter than they were in the middle of the year," he said. "We also acknowledge that nearly all our NRLW athletes are not full time athletes. They have careers off the field that limit the ability to be able to relocate for a long period of time and that’s something we also considered carefully."

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Sydney Outbreak - Grand Final Relocated to Brisbane

    8th September 2021

    History will be made when Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium hosts the NRL grand final on Sunday, October 3. For the first time, the premiership decider will be held outside of Sydney with the NRL announcing this year's match would be played in the Queensland capital due to the COVID-19 outbreak in NSW. All matches in the Telstra Premiership finals series will be played in Queensland venues after the competition relocated to the Sunshine State in July due to the COVID-19 outbreaks in NSW and Victoria. Mackay will join this weekend's hosting cities Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Rockhampton in staging playoff matches. The ARL Commission has reached agreement with the Queensland Government to host the remainder of the finals after the NSW Government confirmed it would not be able to host the grand final or remaining matches because of the COVID-19 pandemic. ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys thanked the NSW and Queensland governments for their support. "I’d like to acknowledge the NSW Government, in particular Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres for working collaboratively with us to reach an outcome that ensures the health and safety of NSW residents and allows the NRL to showcase the grand final live to rugby league fans," he said. "This has been a long and enduring partnership and one that will continue into the future. I’d also like to acknowledge Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young for their support in ensuring the continuity of our competition which provides an escapism to so many fans dealing with lockdowns, but also injects a significant amount of money in to the Queensland economy. The Queensland Premier is a warrior for the people of Queensland and just keeps delivering for them."

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Brisbane Outbreak - Return to Stage 2 Restrictions

    30th September 2021

    Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the return to stage-two COVID-19 restrictions across areas of South-East Queensland, including Brisbane and the Gold Coast, as well as Townsville on Thursday morning. Six new locally acquired cases have sparked the increased measures. Both grand final teams have been placed back under level-four biosecurity protocols as of 6pm on Wednesday. The respective grand final camps of South Sydney at Surfers Paradise and Penrith on the Sunshine Coast have returned to the same tight Apollo restrictions that were in place for much of 2020. Players, staff and family members in each team's bubble must now remain in their club set-ups unless attending training or performing an essential household task like shopping, with visitors banned.

    NRL 2021 COVID-19 Delta Variant Brisbane Outbreak - Grand Final 75% Reduced Capacity

    30th September 2021

    Queensland's historic NRL grand final will be played in front of a capped crowd of 39,000 due to tightening COVID-19 restrictions. The NRL has confirmed 25% of fans who purchased tickets to Sunday's Rabbitohs-Panthers sold-out decider will be automatically refunded on a "first in" basis from when tickets were purchased. NRL CEO Andrew Abdo acknowledged the disappointment that around 13,000 fans now face as he explained the refund process for Suncorp Stadium's first NRL grand final. "We had two allocations of grand final tickets. The first was to the general public and the second was aimed at fans of both grand final teams,’’ Abdo said. The fairest way to determine who can attend the game is by prioritising the first 75% to purchase tickets in each allocation. Any fan who no longer wants to attend will also be able to access a refund. I want to acknowledge fans who will now miss out on attending the grand final. I know you had been counting down the days to a once in a lifetime experience and this will be difficult news to take, but this decision is out of our hands." Fans attending the decider will also be required to wear masks per government restrictions."

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