Crowds could be back at NRL games before long. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas.
Crowds could be back at NRL games before long. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas.

NRL plan to get 15,000 fans through the gates

Peter V'landys is in talks to create a Sunday afternoon ANZ Stadium derby between South Sydney and Canterbury for 15,000 fans - with the Round 8 event likely to see both clubs share the proceeds of what would be the biggest live sports crowd post COVID-19.

Not content with getting small groups of fans back to rugby league this weekend, the NRL is already working on a blueprint to potentially move the July 5 match between Souths and Bulldogs, which coincides with the start of NSW school holidays, to a Sunday afternoon.

Currently, the game is slated for Bankwest Stadium at 6.30pm.

However, in a bid to create what would be the biggest professional sports crowd since the coronavirus pandemic first broke, there has been discussion about the match being played as a 2pm clash at ANZ Stadium instead.

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The proposal is still being discussed, and yet to be signed off by the NSW Government, but would involve detailed biosecurity measures, including the enforcement of strict social distancing both inside the Olympic Park venue and on public transport systems delivering fans to and from the game.

V'landys bold plan to get fans back to the footy kicks off this weekend, with up to 1000 supporters expected across three games at Bankwest Stadium on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Under current government regulations, fans are only allowed to attend Bankwest Stadium in corporate areas.

As part of the strict biosecurity protocols, there will be separate entry and exit points, sanitiser stations and a team of cleaners employed to continually disinfect what have been identified as 'high touch' points.

However with further easing of rules expected by July, the NRL has already begun drawing up a blueprint to have 15,000 fans at the Sunday match between the Bunnies and Bulldogs.

Given crowds were not expected back so soon when the revamped draw was created, the second Sunday game has been given the later 6.30pm timeslot because it suited broadcasters.

However with V'landys now pushing to have a crowd inside the Olympic Park precinct for the July match, there has been talk around moving kick off forward to 2pm.

The match could be switched to 2:00pm. Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images.
The match could be switched to 2:00pm. Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images.

While Canterbury are the designated home team in Round 8, it is highly likely the two clubs will co-promote the event.

Over the past two years, the Bunnies and Bulldogs have created a strong working relationship where, across their two games each season, the clubs share the gate takings and promotion for both events.

It follows the growing success of their traditional Good Friday clash.

Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly said he fully supported any move to get fans back into venues, so long as both the NRL and NSW Government deemed it safe to do so.

"We would love to see as many of our loyal members allowed into games as possible," Solly said.

"So long as the government and NRL tell us it's safe, the more people we can get in for games the better.

"I know the news that crowds are coming back this weekend already has our members really excited. They can't wait."


Originally published as NRL plan to get 15,000 fans through the gates