The start of the domestic Rugby league season is a moving feast due to the continued uncertainty over coronavirus. Despite announcing start dates for the National Leagues at the end of February and Super League in early March, both have now been put back in the hopes of a start in front of live, ticket buying, members of the public, even of that is with limited numbers.
In these strange times, where the only certain thing is continued uncertainly, the clubs, players and ourselves as supporters, have to accept and be ready for change to ensure that when we do restart playing we do so in a safe way.
We take a look at the latest expectations of when we might get to see some live rugby.
The first competition likely to get its restart is the NRL who published their 2021 fixtures soon after the 2020 season ended. The likely curtain-raiser is the game between the premiers Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs which kicks off at 09:05 (UK) on the morning of Thursday 11th March. There will then be two games on the Friday when Newcastle face Canterbury and Brisbane play Parramatta. Saturday has three games scheduled and Sunday the final two games of the opening round. A State of Origin competition is scheduled for the middle of the season and the finals series beginning on the 10th September with the Grand Final on the 3rd October.
Super League have now agreed to delay the start of the competition until Thursday 25th March, two weeks later than was originally planned. The Grand Final is still scheduled for the 9th October as a fortnight is required to prepare for the start of the World Cup competition, should is go ahead. The fixtures have not yet been released but with it being highly unlikely that large crowds, if any at all, would be allowed into the stadia then most games will be televised in some way.
Our first taste of our great game was scheduled to be at the end of February with the start of the Championship, however, this has now been put back by ‘several weeks’, possibly to tie in with the start of Super League, with the League One sides targeting a start ‘later in the spring’. Championship and Championship One sides are back in training this weekend for a long build up after over ten months of inactivity. Once again, fixtures have not been released.
Of course, we also have a World Cup to look forward to with games scheduled to start on the 23rd October as the Rugby League world descend on the United Kingdom, the final scheduled to be played on the 27th November. The organisers are still optimistic that it will go ahead on schedule.