It was yet another blow to the sporting world when NRL announced it would be suspending competition due to the coronavirus pandemic. But, in a mind-boggling development, a luxury island resort in Queensland may be on its way to saving the rugby league's 2020 season. Here's what you need to know.
We've seen NRL Island trending on Twitter and have read some cringe-worthy jokes on its association with a bad reality TV show. Who would have guessed the news is actually about Australia's rugby league and plans of saving its 2020 season. The out-of-the-box proposal, if given the green light, would see all 16 teams live in a luxury resort near Brisbane, and all of their matches would be played in Queensland.
How Tanglooma Island Resort hopes to save NRL
In an interview with League Life on Fox Sports, Tangalooma Island Resort manager, David James, said the luxury resort which sits on Moreton Island, had the capacity to fit in 1,500 people and would comfortably accommodate the 500 or so NRL players and staff.
Given the size of its massive grounds, the resort would easily be able to hold practice sessions for the players. On match days, the players would be ferried to the mainland on private boats and then sent on buses to locked-down stadiums.
"The greatest thing is we can isolate the place,” James said in the interview with Fox Sports. “We can lock it down. We started talking about it a few weeks ago and we put together a plan logistically about how we can isolate players into the resort itself.
“We’re off the coast of Brisbane and we want to go through a process with the NRL and the Queensland government – and the NSW government for that matter – whereby we’re testing players [and everyone else] before they come into an isolated, clean, Covid-free environment."
But the Tangalooma Island Resort isn't the only contender. The idea of moving players to Gladstone in central Queensland has also been put to consideration, and alternatively, the teams could potentially be spread across various regional locations to reduce the risks of falling ill.
Given the sport's plunge into deep financial crisis following COVID-19 restrictions, this proposal, as wild as it sounds, may come as a reprieve for all parties involved. The players, who recently secured two months of pay (for April and May) while the game is still in hiatus, are open to the idea of living in the resort together.
According to 7News, Rugby League Players Association boss, Clint Newton, said he and the players were willing to consider all the proposals even if it means being separated from their families during the season.
"We’re willing to explore all options for players, provided first and foremost the players are going to be appropriately protected and kept safe, and do what we can to ensure they are not put at any adverse risk," Newton said.
This doesn't come as a surprise as everyone involved in the game is desperately hoping for the show to go on.
If the tweets are anything to go by, it's fair to say NRL fans are also on board — it'll be a welcome distraction from the self-isolation blues.
I commit to doing everything I possibly can to see the NRL Island dream realised
— keen online poster (@jonathonio) April 2, 2020
They need to do it. It would be the only sport in the world. 1 billion people watching every game https://t.co/sxoysBBmn2
— henno (@jrhennessy) April 2, 2020
If free childcare has taught me anything it’s that anything is possible and together we can make NRL Island real
— Bridie Jabour (@bkjabour) April 2, 2020