It survived lockdown, two exoduses, a financial crisis and a major overhaul, but just a day before kick off, Central Coast Rugby League’s Senior Competition has officially been cancelled.
Central Coast Rugby League (CCRL) President, Gerard Andrews, announced the cancellation on Saturday, July 18, citing new spectator restrictions from NSW Rugby League in the wake of Sydney’s COVID resurgence as the cause.
Under the new guidelines, the competition was to be restricted to essential personnel only, meaning that there would be no spectators allowed at games.
As gameday revenue is the most significant form of finance for most clubs, Andrews said the directive made the season untenable for most member clubs, with a majority vote to abandon the competition the final nail in the coffin for senior rugby league in 2020.
“The CCRL received the directive from NSW Rugby League on Friday, July 17.
“When we notified the clubs, the majority came back to us saying that this was unworkable for them, so the CCRL Executive put it to a vote, and all bar three clubs voted to not move ahead with the season.
“It was disappointing, but ultimately it was the decision made by the league community,” Andrews said.
With kick off set for Sunday, July 19, it’s a depressing end to a competition whose community has gone above and beyond to weather the COVID storm, but for players at least, there is a silver lining, with local teams able to enter the Lower Hunter Rugby League Competition, which Andrews said was still going ahead.
With the seniors now axed, it’s not clear if the juniors will follow suit, but for the time being it’s understood that their competition is proceeding as planned.
With no other codes adopting the same measures as NSW Rugby League, Andrews said that time will tell whether the decision to cancel crowds was premature, but one thing he is certain of is the hard work that went into preparing the season.
“Hundreds of hours of work from the clubs and CCRL went into this season, so this outcome is very frustrating.
“We had all of the policies and procedures in place and we were just a breath away from starting.
“I can understand why NSW Rugby League has made this decision, but right now, it’s hard to say if it was the correct one,” Andrews said.
With no competition, focus now shifts to preparing for the 2021 season, which Andrews is hopeful will be a return to the usual state of play.
For clubs, this unexpected interim will also be an opportunity to take stock of their individual situations and give them some breathing room to recover financially.
Andrews said the CCRL will be doing the same.
“We will continue to work hard as we prepare for season 2021,” Andrews said.
Reporter Dilon Luke