• Possible NRL Restart in Late May Might Exclude NZ Warriors

    For all the success the country of New Zealand has enjoyed when it comes to rugby, the struggles of the New Zealand Warriors are something of an anomaly.

    The club joined the NRL in 1995, but from roughly 25 years of trying, the Warriors have nothing other than runner up finishes from 2002 and 2011 and a minor premiership in 2002.

    They finished 13th in the 2019 NRL season and the current talk is that the Warriors might be booted from the NRL because of strict border restriction measures imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The NRL is mulling a restart, with the decision expected in about two weeks. The league is targeting a resumption in late May or early June.

    History provides an example of returning too soon. Social distancing measures invoked during the three-year influenza epidemic that broke out in 1918 showed that as soon as social distancing measures were relaxed, a second wave of influenza made an appearance.

    Trying to resume the NRL minus the Warriors would have an impact on the other clubs. One easily imaginable scenario is that without New Zealand, an easy fixture for much of the NRL, some of the other clubs might not have the luxury of a soft fixture to help their cause in finishing in the top eight.

    Warriors’ chief executive Cameron George is of the opinion that his club would indeed be playing if the NRL resumes.

    “I’m optimistic things are starting to take shape over here and go in the right direction,” he said.

    This is the sort of optimism we have encountered in many realms where financial considerations are never far out of mind, but with even medical experts having a difficult task in predicting the course of the global pandemic; it is hard to imagine relying on the opinion of a rugby official.

    “I’m hearing a lot of different things that the Government may start relaxing (the lockdown) in the next couple of weeks,” George said in a statement, but the view of the NRL is that it is desperate to get back underway as soon as possible.

    Making decisions from a perspective of desperation seldom results in good choices.