NSWRL CEO David Trodden has floated the idea regional NSW could be treated differently to metropolitan areas like Sydney, boosting hopes crowds may be allowed at community sport in 2020.
Speaking to 2MG Mudgee on Saturday morning, Trodden said the announcement by Scott Morrison on Friday afternoon "fits neatly" into the flagged plan to resume junior sport on July 18, which is the weekend before term three resumes, with training to begin in mid-June.
However, he said senior sport in the region may not be as clear-cut, and Group 10 might not be able to run in the "same form as last year", flagging the potential need for a nines-style adapted competition instead of traditional games of footy.
The Prime Minister said restrictions would be eased on a state-by-state basis, and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is due to give NSW a roadmap early next week on what lifting restrictions will look like.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Friday announced her state's roadmap to lifting restrictions, which included easing restrictions in outback Queensland ahead of metropolitan areas, and Trodden said there was scope to have the same in the Central West and regional NSW.
Do you play a nines tournament where the fitness level is not as great and the expenses are not as great?NSWRL CEO David Trodden discussing possible permutations for 2020
He also hoped NSW would shadow the Queensland government's timeline of heading to stage two restrictions by June 15 and stage three on July 15.
"I think there's a real opportunity to work with the government to have different rules for regional NSW as for metropolitan Sydney," Trodden said.
"There are wide open spaces, far less people and more importantly far less positive cases of coronavirus, so I think there's a case to be made for regional NSW to be treated differently to metropolitan Sydney."
The third stage of restrictions allow for crowds of up to 100 people, which Trodden said would allow junior sport to continue without too much changing.
"One hundred people per junior rugby league or netball game shouldn't be a problem," he said.
"The challenge for us will be to schedule games with enough time, maybe with half an hour or three-quarters-of-an-hour between games so there's not a huge crossover of people."
The NSWRL CEO said clubs and organisations might still need to enact a rule allowing just one parent per player in attendance, and added club's finances would likely take a hit.
"All sources of funding clubs have had, [from sponsors] down to canteens is going to be different, this season will be different from last season and different from next season and we've got to find a way to make it happen," he said.
While optimistic we'll see some form of sport towards the end of July, does Trodden think we'll see Group 10 clubs running onto the field in 2020?
"I think it depends on how you look at it," Trodden said.
"If you expect people to have a season the same as last season, that won't happen because there's a limited timeframe, there's limited financial resources but we're looking at a whole different range of options because people want community sport.
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"Do you play a nines tournament where the fitness level is not as great and the expenses are not as great? There are a whole range of permutations you can come up with to get sport on in some form, albeit not the form from last year or next year."
However, there was one thing which was certain - "we're not going to give up".
"We'll be making every effort we can possibly to make to ensure people have the opportunity to enjoy sport in some form," he said.
As to what that form will be, we'll have to keep on waiting.
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