With the return of community rugby league imminent, here are some answers to questions about returning to play.
Frequently asked questions
Will community rugby league return in 2020?
A number of documents recently released from the state and federal governments and Australian Institute of Sport suggest a return to community sport is a possibility in 2020.
Queensland Rugby League is currently drafting a ‘Return to Play’ Handbook which will incorporate guidelines to be followed for a safe return as per requirements from the Queensland Government, Australian Institute of Sport and QRL.
This Handbook will be submitted to the QRL Board on Friday, May 29 for approval prior to public release.
Once approved, each local league board / management committee across the state will consult with stakeholders to make a decision on whether rugby league will return in their area in 2020.
What will the guidelines of returning be?
QRL has outlined overall guidelines in accordance with the Queensland Government’s Return to Play Guide for Sport.
It outlines a three-stage return to play:
Stage 1: Preparation (prior to June 11, 2020)
Stage 2: Training Protocols (June 11-July 9, 2020)
Stage 3: Training and Competition Protocols (post July 10, 2020)
Further extensive guidelines will be outlined in the QRL ‘Return to Play’ Handbook released soon.
What date can we re-commence training and playing?
Prior to June 11 (during Stage 1), physical activity must be self-directed in pairs or family groups and cannot be instructed by the club.
From June 12 (Stage 2), restricted non-contact activity in small groups of 20 (inclusive of staff) be permitted at any one venue. Physical distancing requirements must be met during this period so all training that involves close contact (i.e. tackling, opposed games etc.) is not permitted.
At this stage, play can return mid-late July.
This will also have a total attendance limit (including participants and team staff) of 100 people at any venue.
What competitions will the ‘Return to Play’ guidelines include?
All competitions governed by QRL (excluding statewide competitions*).
Whilst QRL has a strong working relationship with school rugby league, the decision for all school competitions will be made by individual schools in consultation with Queensland School Sport and relevant education authorities.
Can statewide competitions players participate in community rugby league?
Pending approval from their club and league, yes, statewide competition participants would be welcome to participate in any community rugby league competitions across the state.
How many weeks of contact training is recommended prior to returning to play?
Following a recent regional stakeholder survey, the general feedback ranged between two and four weeks.
While it will be at the local league’s discretion as part of their planning, it has been confirmed that for all ages under 13 and above, participants must complete a minimum of two weeks of contact training prior to returning to play.
For under 12 and below, there is no specific requirement from QRL, but a local league may choose to enforce this.
On the line: Glenn Ottaway
How many people will be allowed at venues upon return?
Government restrictions during Stage 2 (June 11-July 9, 2020) only allow for venues to host a maximum of 20 people at any given time. This is 20 people per venue, not per field and is inclusive of all people at the venue.
During Stage 3 (post July 10, 2020), the cap on numbers is lifted to 100 people per venue.
Host venues will need to put processes in place to monitor this and restrict access as required.
Will all participants require a flu vaccination prior to participating?
No. Whilst the flu vaccination is recommended, it is not a compulsory requirement to return to play. It is also strongly recommended that all individuals attending venues with mobile phone access download the COVIDSafe App.
Will the June 30 registration cut-off date be extended?
Yes. If you haven’t registered to play yet and your local club is accepting registrations, click here to register.
Will the season cut-off date be extended past mid-October?
At this stage, the QRL Abeyance Period (beginning third weekend in October) will be the cut-off for all regular competitions.
We have to respect our existing heat policy and also the rights of traditional summer sports.
Clubs / leagues looking to play post this deadline should consider alternate formats of competition such as non-contact or Nines competitions which potentially reduce the risk of heat-related injury or illness.
Is there a date for abandonment of the 2020 season?
There will not be a blanket decision made by QRL across all competitions. This decision will be made by individual leagues / competitions on what they see as practical.
The QRL is working towards a return to play in mid-July should local leagues wish to return in 2020, in line with what State Government restrictions allow.
What is the process should a participant contract COVID-19?
QRL is currently drafting stringent guidelines around the process should a participant contract COVID-19.
These guidelines will be outlined in the QRL ‘Return to Play’ Handbook released soon.
I am unsure about participating this year due to COVID-19, am I entitled to a refund from my local club?
This is an agreement between the individual and club. QRL does not seek any payments or affiliation fees from club registration fees.
QRL certainly appreciates that many people have been affected financially during the pandemic, but clubs have also incurred costs during this time.
Should you be experiencing financial hardship, negotiate with your club in good faith in an attempt to reach an amicable solution. This might be by way of a partial refund of transferring registration fees over to next year.
I live in an ‘outback’ area that has recorded zero cases of COVID-19, can we commence earlier?
We are guided by the Queensland Government on all restrictions and although there is an increase in some allowances for outback areas, there are no exemptions allowed that are relevant to a return to sport.
Will the QRL financially support clubs for cleaning and sanitary equipment?
The Queensland Government has recently released grant packages for this type of support, with small grants of up to $2000 available to purchase this type of equipment.
With COVID-19 preventing any accreditation courses, will expired accreditations be extended?
Further communication is expected from the NRL this week regarding accreditation. Where possible, we have worked together to be a practical as we can, including extending expiration dates on accreditation when courses and updates cannot be held.
What support is available to clubs to assist in restarting?
QRL has a team of staff situated across the state to provide operational assistance for local clubs and leagues.
The Queensland Government also has a number of programs available, committing $51.3 million to its Sport and Recreation COVID Safe Restart Plan.
Below are the range of options available to assist clubs to get going again:
- $14 million COVID Safe Active Clubs Kickstart - funding to purchase hygiene supplies, products, training or equipment to allow clubs to return to play, this funding can also be used for operational needs such as utilities and bills. This will see up to 7000 clubs receiving grants of up to $2000
- $10.8 million Active Industry Fund - funding for 77 state level sporting organisations and industry peak bodies through existing arrangements
- $15.5 million Active Restart Infrastructure Recovery Fund - grants for minor works and support up to 3000 clubs to purchase revenue generating equipment to help them return to play
- $11 million FairPlay vouchers - vouchers of up to $150 for around 73,000 young Queenslanders to participate in physical activity opportunities and support families experiencing hardship due to COVID-19
Are clubs financially liable should a participant contract COVID-19 whilst training / playing?
All clubs have a level of insurance cover that offers protection, provided the correct protocols are followed.
The guidelines, Handbook and all other support materials explicitly outline the expectation on clubs hosting rugby league. Strictly following the guidelines mitigates the risk to clubs.
Breaches or non-adherence to the agreed protocols would potentially put the club at risk.
With minimal / no spectators, how will clubs survive financially?
This is something that clubs will have to consider carefully.
QRL’s goodwill wants to see rugby league return in our communities in 2020 but it should not be at the expense of long-term survival for any club.
Limited numbers and the principle of ‘get in, play, get out’ certainly challenges the ability for clubs to generate revenue from the traditional sources of gates, canteens and bars.
We can offer up other ideas for generating revenue, but in some cases, a return to play might not be financially possible.
With all QRL representative programs cancelled in 2020, what might programs look like in 2021?
While we are still unsure what long-term restrictions might look like, QRL has already commenced a full, strategic review of all programs for 2021 and beyond.