Ballina captain-coach Jamie Lyon in action against Murwillumbah at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
Ballina captain-coach Jamie Lyon in action against Murwillumbah at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.

BUBBLE TROUBLE: NRRRL under fire after border closure call

RUGBY LEAGUE: Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League have copped criticism over their decision to rule games as a draw after the Queensland border closure caused chaos over the weekend.

The hard closure was announced late last week and came into effect at 1am on Saturday, leaving NRRRL with a difficult decision for games including sides close inside the 'bubble'.

"Once again our competition has been affected by COVID-19, this time with the Queensland Border restrictions and closures," an NRRRL spokesperson said on Saturday afternoon.

"As we all know, there is now a bubble which we need to abide by for our own well being which is based on where people live and work. We know that this is going to affect some clubs more than others which is outside our control."

 

Police are seen checking drivers at the Gold Coast Highway checkpoint on July 10, 2020 in Coolangatta, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Police are seen checking drivers at the Gold Coast Highway checkpoint on July 10, 2020 in Coolangatta, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Cancellations included Tweed Coast Raiders' trip to Mullimbimby, Murwillumbah Mustangs at Casino Cougars and Byron Bay's reserve side that was set to play Marist Brothers.

"The above games will be treated as a draw under the COVID rules and as confirmed by NSWRL," NRRRL said.

>>>RELATED: Clarence rugby league stars turn to NRRRL for game time

"Realising the impact this will have on clubs moving forward, we are working on a solution which will not impact any clubs over the next few weeks. We will reassess the situation should the Queensland Government change any of their restrictions."

Tweed Coast Raiders have been heavily effected by the border bubble introduced on the Queensland, New South Wales border. - Photo: SMPIMAGES.COM
Tweed Coast Raiders have been heavily effected by the border bubble introduced on the Queensland, New South Wales border. - Photo: SMPIMAGES.COM

The Facebook post was met with a great deal of frustration by the NRRRL community as numerous people called for the season to be cancelled once and for all.

Des Anderson : "NRRRL you guys have done an absolute amazing job getting the season up and running for as long as you have. But I think it's time to cancel the season otherwise it ain't fair financially for clubs."

Scott Darke : "If Tweed teams can't travel just can the season it's a bit ridiculous to expect all the southern teams that use local players to travel up the Tweed but they don't travel down south. Fair play to Byron to get a first grade team to play with all the drama."

Mark O'Neill : "A draw is beyond a joke. Especially for the club who actually use their own talent out of their own backyard. Well played NRRRL. Others responded with the thoughts of the northern clubs in their minds, stating that the competition was not by any means the priority in the situation."

Paul Abric : "It's not a matter of Tweed based clubs not having locals etc, know for a fact Bilambil have nothing but locals/local juniors out there, we are based on the border and a lot of the boys work on the coast and Brisbane, if they travel outside the bubble then they have to go in to quarantine for 14 days and are unable to make a living."

After the Coffs Harbour-based Group 2 competition joined a growing list of casualties in 2020, NRRRL could be at risk of heading in the same direction as pressure mounts.

Richard Michael : "The Queensland bubble is in place until the end of the month and only likely to be lifted if cases start declining at least. People shouldn't feel pressured to potentially jeopardise there livelihoods when it is already tenuous with the COVID situation. Intentions may have been good at the start but its starting to look highly unviable. Time to start thinking about 2021."

NRRRL are yet to respond to the criticism, but will be looking to find an answer to the latest COVID-19 problem after a incredibly challenging season to date.


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