After weeks out of the game due to coronavirus restrictions, AFL and NRL executives have both announced they're on their way back to restart the seasons. Here's what you need to know.
Like just about every industry in Australia, professional sports was not immune to the coronavirus outbreak that raged through the major cities in late March and early April. We've since experienced a significant decrease in infections due to physical distancing measures and the stringent restrictions that saw many Australians confined to their homes.
As Australia begins the slow process of re-opening some of these industries, many will be pleased to hear that the NRL and AFL seasons are firing back up within weeks giving you something to get excited for again.
When can I watch NRL and AFL games in Australia?
NRL will return to screens from 28 May when the first game between the Brisbane Broncos and Parramatta Eels kicks off. Round 3 and 4 schedules are available below but you can view the full season's match up on the NRL's website.
Below times are in AEST.
Thursday 28 May
- Broncos vs. Eels | (Nine/Fox): 7.50pm
Friday 29 May
- Cowboys vs. Titans | (Fox) 6:00pm
- Roosters vs. Rabbitohs | (Nine/Fox) 7.55pm
Saturday 30 May
- Warriors vs. Dragons | (Fox) 3:00pm
- Sharks vs. Wests Tigers | (Fox) 5:30pm
- Storm vs. Raiders | (Fox) 7:35pm
Sunday 31 May
- Panthers vs. Knights | (Nine/Fox) 4:05pm
- Sea Eagles vs. Bulldogs | (Fox) 6:30pm
Thursday 4 June
- Broncos vs. Roosters | (Nine/Fox) 7.50pm
Friday 5 June
- Panthers vs. Warriors | (Fox) 6:00pm
- Storm vs. Rabbitohs | (Nine/Fox) 7.55pm
Saturday 6 June
- Eels vs. Sea Eagles | (Fox) 5:30pm
- Cowboys vs. Sharks | (Fox) 7:35pm
Sunday 7 June
- Raiders vs. Knights | (Nine/Fox) 4:05pm
- Titans vs. Wests Tigers | (Fox) 6:30pm
Monday 8 June
- Bulldogs vs. Dragons | (Fox) 4:05pm
The AFL's return is a little further off with 11 June pencilled in for its start. It's going to run things a little differently to what it had planned pre-coronavirus, opting to run the season in four-to-six week blocks to make the league a little more agile if thing's don't pan out well.
It's releasing the first block's schedule in the next 10 days and certain teams will have to temporarily relocate so they can play in states that have approved full contact-training and matches.
For example, West Coast Eagles, Fremantle, Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide will all relocate to the Gold Coast for the time-being due to ongoing restrictions in their home states.
You can view the fixture as it's scheduled until July 5 on the AFL's website.
How to watch NRL and AFL when they return to season
While we're nearly a fortnight away from the first match, you can still prepare so you're ready to curl up on the couch and peep some of the first sports in the world to return to season. The easiest way to watch the games will, of course, be Australia's dedicated sports streaming service, Kayo, which will air all the matches without any ads. You can sign up for a free 14-day trial to see if it works for you and you'll pay $25 a month for its basic package if you continue on with it.
For those with a Foxtel Sports subscription, you'll know the drill already. Every match will air through the sports channels so you're completely sorted.
If you don't feel like coughing up any money to watch the games, you'll still be able to tune in to see some of the action through free-to-air TV. Nine airs the Thursday night game as well as the second Friday evening match and Sunday's 4.05pm kickoff. It'll be full of ads, as expected, but it shouldn't cost you a cent. You can also stream it through 9Now when it returns.
If you live outside of Australia and are desperate to watch any sports right now — we feel you — you're in luck too. You won't be able to tune into to free-to-air TV but there are some reasonably affordable options to watch the NRL and AFL. Watch NRL will cost you $2 a week for a subscription or $5 a month.
For AFL fans and newcomers, Watch AFL will set you back the same cost. For $10 a month, that's a better deal than us Aussies are getting.
In the meantime, you've got a good chunk of sport documentaries to get you through.
We may not have live sports action to follow right now but there's no dearth of stellar sports documentaries to keep you at the edge of your seat. Get your snack game ready because you're going to be stuck to your couch for a while.
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