TRL season in huge doubt with new restrictions
RUGBY LEAGUE: Throughout the 101-year history of the Toowoomba Rugby League, the competition has been able to withstand a war to continue playing.
That streak has been put in serious doubt however, with government restrictions threatening to put a stop to the league for the first time in its history.
While the green light has been given for community sport to resume under stage three of the roadmap to easing Queensland’s restrictions, there is a key sticking point that is putting the league at risk.
As it stands, a maximum of 100 people only are permitted for community sport, with this number including participants.
With up to five grades of play in a day, it would mean no spectators are allowed into grounds, depleting clubs of a key source of income and financial stability.
At a delegates meeting on Monday night, the TRL and clubs came to an agreement in regard to the future of the competition.
“We had a very healthy discussion for nearly two hours. The main focus was the 2020 competition and COVID-19,” TRL chairman Rex Zeeman said.
“There was a good exchange of views, and we reached a consensus on a few things.
“We would like to start the competition as soon as possible when we get to stage three of the Queensland government’s roadmap, which we have targeted as a return date for the competition.
“If the restriction on public gatherings is limited to that of 100 people, the season will be a no go.
“This number of 100 includes players, staff, referees and officials.
“For example you would have to tell the U18s to go home after their game to be able to let A-grade players and staff in.
“We’ve agreed that under the 100-person limit, it wouldn’t be practical to commence the competition.”
While there will be no season under the current restrictions, the league is holding out hope of the Queensland Rugby League’s submission to the Queensland government.
The Chronicle understands it could seek to increase the number of people permitted at community rugby league to allow for spectators in some capacity.
Zeeman said the guidelines will look at a number of practices from training through to game day.
“The QRL is preparing its guidelines for submission to the Queensland government for the resumption of a return at a community level,” he said.
“No sport can start without approved guidelines by chief medical officer Dr Jeannette Young.
“The QRL is busy preparing its own set of guidelines, which will firstly have to be approved by QRL chief medical officer Roy Saunders.
“Once they are happy that will come out to community football stakeholders through the Central region to give clubs an idea of what it is about if the sport is to return.
“This is what will be required at training, protocols to follow on game day. Then it will be up to clubs to see if they are achievable or if it is too hard.”
While the restrictions regarding public gathering numbers will be partially lifted from this weekend, Zeeman said clubs aren’t allowed to resume training until at least next month.
“This refers to recreational activity, not organised club-based activities,” he said.
“Community sport isn’t mentioned until stage two, and training at this stage can’t be issued by clubs. This will void insurance.
“The latest we’ve had from the QRL is that training is still suspended until at least June 1.”
In a question-and-answer session on the QRL’s Facebook page, regional general manager Glen Ottaway said the ultimate decision to return would rest with leagues and their respective clubs.
“While the QRL will take responsibility for developing a full set of guidelines in consultation with our clubs and leagues that will hopefully meet government approval and the opportunity to get back on the field at some stage,” Ottaway said.
“It still needs to be at the empowerment of our local leagues and clubs who know their area and know the position they’re in financially and sustainability wise, and they need to make a decision whether a return to rugby league is actually viable.”
The Chronicle has been informed by the Toowoomba Junior Rugby League that further clarity on the status of the TJRL season will be clarified at a meeting with clubs next week.