Written by Callum Walker
The evidence was there for all to see; the NRL has been in action since May 28. Since that date, no outbreak of the dreaded COVID-19 has taken place at any club with major sanctions placed on playing and coaching staff to prevent going outside their own ‘bubble’.
Those that have gone outside the ‘bubble’ such as Souths head coach Wayne Bennett and St George forward Paul Vaughan have been forced to self-isolate for 14 days. And even then, the duo must test negative for coronavirus before returning.
Tevita Pangai Junior could even be facing the sack by his club Brisbane for a trip to the barbers. Bearing in mind the forward has already been fined $30,000 by the NRL, it would be an incredibly expensive haircut.
Such sanctions are in place though to remind players and staff about the importance of keeping to the strict protocols. They are in place, after all, to ensure the players, staff and general community are safe.
Compare that to the plans put in place by Super League in England and the difference is spectacular. There are no such bubbles with players allowed to come and go as they please outside of the club.
That means that whilst the likes of the New Zealand Warriors have been unable to see their families for a good few months, reducing the risk of contraction exponentially, players in the UK have been able to live relatively normal lives.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) August 12, 2020
No wonder then that Super League has had its own catastrophe just two weeks into the resumption of the season.
Eight members of the Hull FC playing and coaching staff tested positive for the disease at the beginning of this week, throwing the whole fixture list into jeopardy.
Their opponents from last week, Salford, have seen all their players come back with negative tests which is a relief, but it still begs the question as to why the governing body didn’t insist on the same kind of bubbles that have proved so effective Down Under.
The scrapping of scrums was said to reduce contact ‘hot spots’, but it appears that this was only a joker that the Super League had up their sleeves. What good is it limiting contact on the field, if off the field there are practically no determined rules?