3 Apr 2020

    "NRL Island" Is The Absurd Coronavirus Sports Plan Bringing Australians Hope And Joy Right Now

    "Putting so much of my hope and dreams into NRL island. It will be a global trend setter and change the world," one person tweeted.

    Dave Hunt / AAPIMAGE

    A player scores a try during a rugby league match, not held on a tropical island.

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    The coronavirus pandemic has changed life in many ways — one of them the cancellation of sporting events around the world. Even the Olympics has been postponed.

    But one of Australia's most popular sporting codes thinks it might have a way around having to cancel the current season, which ground to a halt in late March just two games into a 25-round season.

    It is with immense joy that I inform you Australia's National Rugby League (NRL) competition is considering a plan that would send its hundreds of players, team staff, match officials and media to a tropical island where they can continue to play and work in quarantine.

    Under the proposal, personnel would live and train on the island and travel to the mainland to play football in existing stadiums. It could happen by June.

    It's one of a handful of options being considered to save the season, another being a relocation to a rural Queensland mining town.

    The pandemic has thrown the NRL into financial turmoil, with players to forgo five months of pay if the competition cannot resume this year.

    On Wednesday night the proposal to house the league at Tangalooma Island Resort on Queensland's Moreton Island was confirmed by resort owner David James.

    "We're not talking about tomorrow, but hopefully when we're over the curve, over the peak, and on the way out the other side, we can get the great game of rugby league going," James told Fox Sports.

    The league's chief executive Todd Greenberg said in an interview with Wide World of Sports on Thursday that the island plan was "not off the table". The general manager of the players' union, Clint Newton, said players were willing to explore "all options".

    The concept of "NRL Island" would have sounded bonkers just weeks ago, and frankly it still does — but it's been widely embraced by people on social media.

    I commit to doing everything I possibly can to see the NRL Island dream realised

    Putting so much of my hope and dreams into NRL island. It will be a global trend setter and change the world.

    90% of the texts I’ve got in the last 48 hours have been people asking if NRL island is real

    Losing my shit at the concept of an NRL Island. Imagine how much food they would go through! Imagine the Instagram DM traffic! Imagine the hastily constructed Northies replica so that they can piss in their own mouths!

    (The last sentence of the above tweet refers to an incident in which an NRL star was photographed urinating into his own mouth.)

    DAMMIT GREENBERG, QUIT STALLING GIVE US NRL ISLAND OR WE RIOT

    Others compared it to Australia's recent drastic responses to the coronavirus pandemic, which have included a doubling of the unemployment benefit and providing free childcare.

    Doubling welfare payments. Free childcare. Putting all NRL players on an island. So many changes that would already have been great ideas before the virus.

    If free childcare has taught me anything it’s that anything is possible and together we can make NRL Island real

    The league's innovation committee is considering the options for salvaging the season and meets next Thursday.

    Cameron Wilson is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Cameron Wilson at cameron.wilson@buzzfeed.com.

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