IT’S OFF: TRL abandons 2020 season
R UGBY LEAGUE: The Toowoomba Rugby League has withstood two wars in its 101-year history, but the threat of coronavirus has proven too much.
TRL officials confirmed Monday night at an extraordinary general meeting that the 2020 season wouldn’t go ahead, the first time the TRL Premiership has been forced to be cancelled.
Originally scheduled to kick-off on March 21, the development of the virus on our shores saw the competition pushed back to May 30.
This was delayed a week to June 6 following QRL advice, then by a month to July 11 following the federal government’s regulations on community sport.
This weekend was set to mark the halfway point of the competition, however the curtain has now been called.
The board of nine directors, along with representatives from all 12 TRL clubs, South Burnett and the referees association, came to a unanimous decision that play would not get underway in 2020.
“It was a unanimous decision by all 23 people,” TRL chairman Rex Zeeman said.
“They all had a say and they all agreed that it was the only way to go.
“It was financially not viable and a lot of work for a lot of volunteers, and there’s also some concern about volunteers if they are more elderly and vulnerable.
“To play without spectators makes it very difficult for the clubs.
“You’d be looking at having only two grades and you’d be close to the 100-person limit. That would make it very difficult from the club point of view financially.”
The biggest barrier to the commencement of the season was the 100-person limit introduced as part of stage three of the government’s roadmap to easing restrictions.
With clubs heavily reliant on admission prices, food and beverage sales, it was deemed financially unviable that a shortened season could proceed.
Zeeman acknowledged this was a bridge that clubs couldn’t cross, and while holding faint hope of a government reversal, said it would need to happen sooner rather than later.
“We had a draw worked out and it worked out pretty well, starting in July with a two-week finals series,” he said.
“If the government said on Friday that they would lift the number to 500, I would have no doubt I’d have 12 clubs on the phone saying we want to go.
“I’ve got no doubt (that move) would revise talks, but it depends on when they say.
“If they start talking about August, I’d say forget it.
“We don’t want to play a half-baked competition over five or six weeks, we wouldn’t come into that.
“The league fully understands that this decision will disappoint many in the rugby league community, but I can assure the rugby league community that nobody is more disappointed than the group of people that made this decision.
“We were really keen to go in late July, but a lot of clubs have been working on this since September and October last year by recruiting coaches and players, finding sponsors and getting managers and sports trainers in place.”
Zeeman said he expects all clubs will be able to come out of this season intact and ready to go in 2021.
“I think they’re okay and they will get by,” he said.
“We’ve told them that if they have problems to come and talk to us.
“They’ve all been alerted to government grants (they can apply for).”
While the seniors will not have a competition in 2020, a decision is yet to be made on the status of this years TJRL season.