NRL boss’ savage sledge in cross-code war
We've been told all along about the importance of getting through the COVID-19 crisis together but there's still no love lost between the NRL and AFL.
In a major boost for rugby league fans ahead of the upcoming finals series, the NSW government is set to relax restrictions and allow more supporters to watch games live inside stadiums.
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Venues are limited to 25 per cent capacity but that will jump to 50 per cent from the start of October, Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys has confirmed.
The NRL grand final will be played in Sydney at ANZ Stadium in Homebush as usual, which under the new regulations could host a crowd of 40,000 people.
The AFL, on the other hand, has been forced to leave Victoria because of the state's coronavirus turmoil, and will instead play its decider in the rugby league heartland of Brisbane. It's the first time ever the league's biggest occasion will take place outside of Melbourne, but V'landys doesn't care.
Asked if he had any sympathy for his cross-code rivals, the rugby league boss was typically blunt.
"Zero," he told Channel 9's Today. "On that subject, while they're in Brisbane, it's like people going to an ABBA concert when they're ACDC fans.
"They'll like the rhythm for a while but they'll go back to the real heavy stuff, the rugby league."
The cutting sledge had Today co-host Karl Stefanovic cracking up in the background while Nine sports presenter Alex Cullen said: "I was worried about that question but you delivered, as always."
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V'landys was full of praise for the NSW government and the state's Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant in getting to a point where more footy fans will be allowed into stadiums to cheer their team on.
"It's always based on the data and a risk analysis," V'landys said.
"The government has introduced protocols with face masks, which will be mandatory, the seats will be chequered, you'll be able to enter and leave in different exits.
"There's all these different protocols which will make it safe.
"But as I say, it's based on data and the data at the moment shows that the community infections (of COVID-19) are low, and by the time the finals come, hopefully they'll be zero, so the risk is minimal."
V'landys said there's a chance even more fans will be allowed in if conditions around the pandemic improve in coming weeks.
"If there is no risk whatsoever, there could be more fans because a lot of fans will miss out and we want to accommodate as many fans as possible," he said.
"They've been so loyal to the game … we want to repay that loyalty because our fans are our No. 1 priority."
Originally published as NRL boss' savage sledge in cross-code war