Group 16 season faces delay after suspension

The Bombala High Heelers, pictured in the 2019 grand final, are among the teams waiting to know when the Group 16 season will start.
The Bombala High Heelers, pictured in the 2019 grand final, are among the teams waiting to know when the Group 16 season will start.

Group 16 rugby league will not go ahead until at least May 1.

The NSWRL board agreed to postpone all Community Rugby League until then - effective immediately - at a meeting last Tuesday.

Meanwhile, NSWRL's major competitions have been suspended until May 31 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision was made by the NSWRL in partnership with the National Rugby League (NRL) and all affiliated states, and after carefully considering the advice from widespread consultation with NRL Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Bloomfield, government agencies and other key stakeholders.

Group 16 chairman Allan Wilton said the Group 16 board of directors met on Monday to discuss the options, but supported the move from the governing body.

"Our first and foremost priority is considering the health and wellbeing of our community," Mr Wilton said. "We accept the decision by the NSWRL and will abide their directions."

May 1 will be the earliest the competition can start, with Mr Wilton saying the board will discussed potentially a later finish in the year to run the season in full or options of condensing the draw.

That includes the possibility of cancelling the pre-season All Stars and Nines competititons.

"Our priority at this stage is to get the competition proper going, whether that means shortening the competition, or finishing later in the year," Mr Wilton said.

"We'll be considering the options for the All Stars and Nines draws and whether they might be cancelled for the 2020 season."

The determinations of Monday's meeting will be presented to all Group 16 clubs for discussion before a final ruling is made.

The NRL have also made the decision to suspend their season after pushing to continue play until Monday afternoon.

"Our pandemic and biosecurity experts said due to the outbreak it is no longer safe for our players to play," ARLC Chairman Peter V'landys said. "That's the paramount consideration in all our decision making is the safety and health of our players and accordingly we are suspending our season."