The NRL has confirmed it will become the first major sporting code to kick-off again in 2020 — returning in just seven weeks.
The NRL has confirmed it will become the first major sporting code to kick-off again in 2020 — returning in just seven weeks.

NRL confirms season return date

The 2020 NRL season is returning on May 28, the game confirmed on Thursday.

The Australian Rugby League Commission has approved a recommendation from the Project Apollo working group for the third round of the season to commence in just seven weeks time.

With NRL powerbrokers locked in high-stakes meetings all day, Project Apollo chairman Wayne Pearce announced on Thursday that the league can only announce an official restart date, but can't offer any further details about what the 2020 season will look like.

Pearce said the decision behind the date was in a bid to help players know when they need to be back at training, as well as club staff and fans.

"We're planning a competition start on May 28," Pearce said.

"The details of the competition structure, we haven't got to that as yet because the landscape is changing very quickly in terms of protocols around governments and government boundaries are.

"That will feed into the complexity of the structure and how the structure looks. Today we landed on a starting date and began discussing possible structures but we haven't finalised that yet."

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg is walking into uncharted territory.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg is walking into uncharted territory.

One plan reportedly submitted by the innovation committee calls for the 16 clubs to play each other once in a 15-round season before a finals series would take place.

The other proposal would carve the 16 clubs into two conferences, where the clubs would play the seven other teams in their conference twice - making it a 16-game season, including the first two rounds already played.

A report earlier claimed the NRL is confident it will not have to pull the trigger on the controversial "bubble" lockdown proposal, allowing players to isolate at home with their families.

All 16 NRL club CEO's were on Thursday afternoon on a conference call being updated with the latest developments from the innovations committee meeting.

The innovation committee meeting has also reportedly decided that the 2020 State of Origin series will be played in the middle of the season.

The committee's plans were reportedly derailed by Channel 9's earlier scathing attack on the NRL administration with the network reportedly angling to renegotiate a cheaper broadcast deal with the game.

The Nine Network claimed in a statement it has been largely shut out of the season resumption discussions going on behind the scenes.

It also accused the NRL of "squandering" millions with a so-called "bloated" head office.

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph reports the Queensland government's border shut down has emerged as a major headache for the NRL in its ongoing discussions about what the season will look like and could forcer the NRL's Queensland based clubs - Brisbane, North Queensland and the Gold Coast - to set up camp in Sydney for a number of weeks as part of the game's isolation "bubble" strategy.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk earlier shrugged off claims the NRL could receive a special allowance to travel interstate without the mandatory 14-day quarantine lockdown.

"I think it is premature to be talking about NRL at this stage," she said.

"Honestly, we are in a serious stage of asking everyone to do the right thing and I think it's premature at this stage.

"These are strict measures that not just the Prime Minister but all the states have put into place at the moment and I don't think anyone should be flouting those rules."

Originally published as NRL confirms season return date


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