GAME OFF: Brothers will not defend their RLI A-Grade title should the competition go ahead after the club called game on the coronavirus-plagued 2020 season. Pictured: Blue and white skipper Wes Conlon collects the RLI trophy on grand final day last year.
GAME OFF: Brothers will not defend their RLI A-Grade title should the competition go ahead after the club called game on the coronavirus-plagued 2020 season. Pictured: Blue and white skipper Wes Conlon collects the RLI trophy on grand final day last year.

Reigning premiers pull pin on RLI 2020 season

Rugby League Ipswich senior footballers’ hopes of taking the field this year have suffered a demoralising blow, with Brothers opting to withdraw the club’s teams.

Brothers president Mark Hennelly confirmed club officials had reached the decision at a committee meeting on Thursday night held under social distancing restrictions.

He said the committee had assessed the conditions to be imposed on playing and training under the QRL’s Return to Play guidelines and determined the impact on volunteers responsible for administering them and ensuring compliance would be too great.

“We decided it was in the best interests of our club not to participate in the 2020 season,” he said.

Hennelly said while 95 per cent of players reportedly wanted to play, the club needed to take into account the health and wellbeing of all involved, as well as current financial conditions.

He said while requirements such as sanitising balls were seen as impractical and too costly to be implemented at a grassroots level, the fact a number of committee members were aged over 65 and in the high-risk group, and another was pregnant had also added weight to the final call.

“If I was a player I’d probably want to play as well but they don’t necessarily think about how you get to play,” he said.

“It was going to be too onerous for the volunteers.”

Hennelly said jobs were now a more valuable commodity than ever and the committee had also considered the fact players needed to prioritise employment over sporting commitments.

He said players and coaches had been informed and appeared to be understanding.

“We have had no pushback,” he said.

In a recently conducted RLI survey, Brothers had already stated its preference was to ‘sidestep’ 2020 and look toward next season.

Hennelly reiterated this desire to focus on planning for 2021.

“Although there will be some restrictions and conditions still in place next season, hopefully we will be better prepared,’ he said.

“We may also have some fresh volunteers and new people enter the fray.”

Brothers notified RLI of their decision to withdraw on Friday.



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