By Casey O’Connor
The highly anticipated return of the NRL launched fans back to the realms of the new normal last week.
There was great anticipation around how the game would look with rule changes and one referee. And what did we learn other than my tipping is as rusty as some of the players?
As anyone who has played or closely followed the game already knows one of the keys to winning is possession – how much you have and how little allow your opponent.
We saw plenty of examples that the new six again rule will reward teams that can force errors by the defending team.
It is no surprise that the two sides who dominated possession (Eels and Cowboys) recorded the biggest winning margins.
Keep an eye on the sides that can hold onto the ball and force plenty of repeated sets.
Fans may have to get used to blowout score lines because there weren’t a lot of close calls.
Round Four may bring us some closer contests. Some teams were obviously not back to full match-fitness.
It could be a long season for Dragons and Titans supporters. The Red and White army who were already screaming over the amended draw have reason to be nervous about the rest of the season. Titans coach Justin Holbrook may have preferred to be in lockdown at St Helen’s in the UK as his players self destructed in Townsville.
Although it was an exciting win for Warriors fans it might be a bit premature to be making plans for the Grand Final just yet. Perhaps the enforced lockdown has done them a power of good as they showed a level of discipline unseen in recent seasons and it was great.
Can we bring back the draw and ditch golden point Mr V’Landy’s. How good was it to see two teams who played such a tough game of footy come away with one point each. (hard to tip I concede).
Knights fans should be rejoicing at the resilience of their team. With key players including captain Mitchell Pearce sidelined early they stared down defeat, defending desperately to hold the Panthers at bay.
With a season of only 20 rounds teams who failed to adjust to the new rules have little time to reboot. Teams that started the season badly and couldn’t find a win last week will be under the pump this weekend including some of the fancied sides.
One thing we know for certain is Melbourne Coach Craig Bellamy is sure to be ramping up the rhetoric at training this week.
It will pay to keep an eye on Manly, the Raiders and Parra for the remainder of season 2020 and possibly dismiss my tips unless like some sides I can lift my game
After round three, with just one referee the sky did not fall and all of the talk this week has not centred around refereeing blunders more about how entertaining Rugby League is and is back to being “the greatest game of all“. (And Peter V’Landy’s probably walks on water too.)
Here’s Casey’s round four tips –
TIGERS WELCOME NEW SPONSOR
Despite the Noosa Tigers AFC being in stuck in limbo waiting for a definite decision on the commencement of the 2020 season the club has welcomed with much excitement the announcement of a new partnership with Express Recycling.
Dion and the crew at Express Recycling have come on board as a new sponsor to the club this year.
When footy gets back to normal and crowds are flooding into our wonderful facility you will see bins (blue with orange lids) around the grounds. With every can, normal sized glass and plastic bottles dropped into them the club will benefit.
The club is delighted to welcome Dion and Express Recycling on board. Those supporters at home can drop your bottles to Express Recycling at 26 Action Street, Noosaville to get them recycled and receive some money back!
The new Noosa Tigers / Express Recycling stubby holders are now on sale for sale – $5.
Email Jack – firstname.lastname@example.org to get yours before the footy kicks off.
CHANGES AFOOT FOR SPRING CARNIVAL
Speculation is rife within the racing industry that the VRC is about to revamp the Melbourne Spring Carnival. It is a case of where there is smoke there well could be fire. Despite racing administrators adamant protestations that no decision has yet been made surrounding re programming of the Spring Carnival there are reports out of Melbourne that the Caulfield Cup will be run on November 28 and the Caulfield Guineas a week earlier on November 21.
After weeks of speculation about the timing of the NRL Sate of Origin, the clash with the Everest in Sydney it is now a potential clash with the delayed AFL season and finals that could impact on the carnival. Corporate bookmakers are also to be pushing for racing to avoid a clash with the AFL.
It is understood a detailed proposal outlining potential changes across the carnival has been sent to select key participants but no agreement has been reached. The RV board will meet on Tuesday to discuss the proposal outlining major changes to programming. A final decision on what could a revamped Spring Racing Carnival could be delivered within days.
Trainers have called for the dates to be confirmed as early as quickly as possible to allow them time to adjust their programmes as begin preparing horses for key races.
A meeting between various stakeholders took place via a phone hook-up on Monday morning.
Following that meeting the Australian Trainers’ Association has less than two days to prepare a formal response after a meeting to discuss the idea of delaying the Caulfield Cup a month.
ATA chief executive Andrew Nicholl sent a letter to all Victorian trainers on Monday afternoon calling for their thoughts on a submission that needs to go into the Racing Victoria on Wednesday.
Robbie Griffiths, the president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association, said his members had mixed reactions to the MRC plan but also had plenty of questions about the merit of the idea.
“What it’s looking like at the moment is we’re saying we don’t want the greatest mile and a half race in Australia disadvantaged in any shape or form or downgraded by relocating its time frame,” Griffiths said.
“But we are concerned because we don’t think it’s broken and we don’t need to have more uncertainty off what is an uncertain time in the world.”
One of the other changes being considered could see the 100th running of the Cox Plate held as a night meeting.
Michael Browell, CEO of the Moonee Valley Racing has previously indicated he was open to moving the Moonee Valley feature races to avoid a potential clash with the AFL.
The VRC has indicated that there is little likelihood the Melbourne Cup would be moved from the first Tuesday in November. A move which no doubt would not be taken kindly by racing fans.
All racing administrators are keen for owners to be allowed to return to the track in some capacity as soon as possible and perhaps a delayed carnival may also allow for bigger crowds as the COV19 restrictions are relaxed.
A recent statement from Racing Victoria reiterated discussions around scheduling are continuing, noting the MRC’s wish to move a number of their races. They stated that while no decisions have been made nothing is off the table at this time given the unprecedented circumstances of 2020.
“The Melbourne Racing Club have already publicly stated their wish to move the Caulfield Cup Carnival to November as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Naturally, it is one of the many options under consideration.“
If changes are necessary stakeholders will be imploring officials not to throw “the baby out with the bath water“. Careful consideration must be given to the impact of any changes on the preparation of local and international gallopers as they look toward their Spring campaigns. Equal consideration should be given to the true stars of the show, the gallopers not just crowd numbers.
The ARL Commission confirmed earlier this week that the 2020 Kangaroos tour of England which would have been Australia’s first full tour since 2003 has been cancelled.
The cancellation, comes as a result of the rescheduling of the NRL grand final which will be followed by three weeks of State of Origin. As a result of the pandemic changes to the English Super League season will also be necessary and on top of that there is still much uncertainty surrounding overseas travel restrictions going forward
The RFL and the ARLC remain committed to the revival of Ashes series contests and with the World Cup to be played in England in 2021 talks are already underway around the potential of the Kangaroos returning for a three-Test Ashes series, in 2022.
“We have already indicated to the ARLC that we would be keen to welcome them for a three-Test series at any time in the future and will now work together to make this happen as soon as possible,“ RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer said.
NRL acting CEO Andrew Abdo is also optimistic about a future Kangaroos tour to the UK.
Rimmer said the decision to cancel this year’s Ashes series and Kangaroo tour had been made with great reluctance but there was little choice.
England players, and new head coach Shaun Wane and his support staff he said are bitterly disappointed, as are the thousands of supporters who have already purchased tickets for the matches.
Australian Coach Mal Meninga has been very vocal in his support of reviving the Ashes tours which have been one of the great traditions of Australian Rugby League.
NEW TIMEFRAME PROVES BOTH PROBLEM AND BLESSINGs
It sounds so simple – the Queensland government has moved to Stage Two of the COVID-19 recovery as of June 1 and for community sporting clubs this flags the return to group training as restrictions are eased. It is great news but for many sporting clubs the earlier than anticipated return to training and indoor and outdoor activities has caught many sporting bodies unprepared.
Many organisations have taken advantage of the period of hibernation to upgrade facilities in anticipation of a Mid June easing of restrictions and clubs have been caught flat footed and scrambling to keep up.
While the tough restrictions have been lifted there remain a raft of protocols that must be adhered to including strict numbers allowed at training; hygiene; social distancing; staggered training sessions, sanitization of equipment and education protocols which are non-negotiable requirements.
CLUBHOUSE TO REOPEN UNDER STRCT GUIDLINES
The easing of some restriction by the Queensland Government from June1 will have a positive benefit for Noosa golfers. The number of patrons now permitted in the club has been increased from 10 to 20 people. It also allowed for the bar to open albeit with restrictions.
Like many other sporting organisations the short notice means that the club is not in a position to fully open immediately. However the following changes have been made.
The halfway house will now only operate on Saturday’s & Tuesday’s until further notice. The Bistro will be open for dinner Wednesday and Thursday of this week for maximum of 20 diners with two sittings of 5:30pm and 7:00pm.
From Friday – the club will be allowed to cater for 60 diners at any one time. There will be three zones each with 20 diners, members lounge, bistro & bar lounge.
Bookings for Friday will be in 15min blocks and allow diners 90 minutes to eat and drink. Full table service will be provided and patrons are not able to approach the bar. Takeaway meals are also provided on these nights.
The Bistro will open for lunch from Tuesday June 9 and the bar will open from Friday, June 5 at 10:00am. Again there will be full table service with patrons not permitted to approach the bar.
A maximum of 20 people are permitted in each zone and staff will direct patrons to the appropriate areas.
All patrons MUST sign into the club on arrival and departure, whether dining or simply utilising the bar. You are required to provide your name, address and contact telephone number.
The club is working towards utilising members cards but in the meantime please ensure you are carrying your driver’s licence. Staff will be on hand to assist.
Patrons will not be permitted to move between zones and must remain in their allocated area until leaving the premises.
The club must work within the strict guidelines provided by the government to open the clubhouse and members are asked to be supportive of the changes so everyone can once again enjoy the facilities.
The sudden decision by the Queensland Government to ease restrictions allowing for groups of has allowed the club to adjust the time sheets and more players can now be on the course. This change means we can now have more increase numbers on course on Saturdays and Tuesdays. The committee expects that the Government will increase these numbers again in four weeks’ time (Saturday 27th June).
It is expected that there will be a return to normal time sheets and sub club competitions at that time.
Time sheet release times for competitions from the 27th onwards however will not return to normal as it could possibly result in excess numbers in the club when we are serving diners. The 6AM opening will be altered to more convenient times. These are still under consideration and will be members will be advised as soon as possible.
A card scanner will be moved downstairs and from this Saturday June 6, competitors will be asked to scan their own cards.
The fixtures book will be amended as some off the events will not be possible. The summer renovation will begin on Monday September 21 and will mean a change of schedule for the club championships. Some Honour Board events may have to be abandoned but as many as possible, and other trophy events, will be continued. A revised fixtures book will be issued as soon as possible.