NRL cancels season start over payment dispute

The start of the NRL season has fallen victim to the game’s wage dispute.

It was traditional to kick off the league year with a glittering event, but headquarters chose not to continue this season. The NRL, which originally planned to hold the event in Brisbane before considering moving it to the game’s Sydney headquarters, informed clubs of the decision on Tuesday.

The players had last month threatened to boycott the launch due to a lack of progress in negotiations for a new collective agreement. Although progress has been made in recent days – particularly since ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys personally interfered in the negotiations – the NRL chose not to go ahead with the launch as talks are ongoing.

Each club traditionally sends a captain and a veteran player to the event, which costs the NRL hundreds of thousands of dollars to host. The decision not to proceed will spare Rugby League Central the embarrassment of potential no-shows.

“Due to ongoing collective bargaining, the NRL will not be holding a season-opening event this Thursday as originally planned,” the NRL said in a statement.

“The NRL remains focused on making positive progress on the joint NRL and NRLW agreements.”

The start of the 2021 NRL season took place in Rozelle.

The start of the 2021 NRL season took place in Rozelle.Credit:SMH

The last major event boycotted by rugby league players was the 2003 Dally M Awards ceremony. The Rugby League Players’ Association called at the time about a lack of progress in salary negotiations. A winner of the medal was never crowned and most experts believe Craig Gower, who had an outstanding year with Penrith, would have been the recipient.

Last year’s start of the season was set to take place in Penrith to celebrate the success of the Premier League in 2021. However, it was canceled due to flooding in the area and the money was donated to those affected. NRL cancels season start over payment dispute

Ryan Sederquist

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