The Fiji Times »Professional sport returns today, Brisbane vs Parramatta

The National Rugby League will bring professional team sport back to the southern hemisphere for the first time since the coronavirus shutdown when the Brisbane Broncos host the Parramatta Eels in Brisbane this evening.

Rugby league chief Peter V’landys encountered widespread disbelief when he announced in early April that the NRL would resume on May 28, but his ambition will pay off when a suspended season in late March resumes at Lang Park.

This ambition has been facilitated in large part by Australia’s success in containing COVID-19 due to early travel restrictions, social distancing measures and widespread testing.

The restrictions have been relaxed, but some remain and the NRL, the most popular winter sport on the country’s east coast, has had to obtain a special waiver from the government to bring players back to the field.

The matches will be played behind closed doors in a few selected stadiums and while the rest of the country enjoys a bit more freedom, players and staff are still living under strict isolation rules.

The New Zealand-based Warriors have made the biggest sacrifices to jumpstart the season, spending two weeks in quarantine in an indoor city before heading to Gosford, where they face the St George Dragons on Saturday.

The Warriors will have to play all of their matches in Australia until the aforementioned trans-Tasman Sea “bubble” is in place to allow round trips to New Zealand.

Internal travel restrictions also remain in place and special permission had to be granted by the Queensland government for teams from New South Wales and Victoria to fly to face the three teams from the vast northern state. -is.

The self-proclaimed ‘greatest game of all’, the 13-player version of the more international sport of rugby union, will resume in the third round of the NRL season with round robin matches running for an additional 17 weeks until the start. playoffs. .

The big name “Project Apollo” committee that has planned the return of the NRL is even hoping to have a limited number of fans in the stadiums by early July.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) called the proposal “absurd” and “dangerous” on Tuesday, but given what the NRL has already achieved, it might be premature to rule it out altogether.

Sara R. Cicero