Threat to parents exposes NRL crowds double standard

While the NRL pushes for huge crowd increases for the finals, mums and dads across the state are facing threats of possible $1000 on-the-spot fines and restrictions of one parent or carer per child at junior sporting finals.

And it is understandably creating significant community unrest in regions such as the Central Coast, an area that NSW Health confirmed on Sunday has not had any recent COVID-19 outbreaks.

It also highlights glaring double standards between big time and community sport.


Only one parent is allowed to attend junior matches in NSW. Picture: Lea Coghlan
Only one parent is allowed to attend junior matches in NSW. Picture: Lea Coghlan


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On Saturday a crowd of more than 6000 attended the Sydney Cricket Ground to watch the Sydney Roosters play Newcastle. The NRL has also held discussions with the NSW Government about allowing 50,000 to attend the NRL grand final.

But on the back of NSW Health's general recommendation for one parent to attend all sporting activities, it is now increasing pressure on local officials to enforce the rules.

On the Central Coast it will mean the junior rugby league division issuing one ticket to each family where a player is competing, and this will be enforced at a ground that is secured with an entry gate.

It is not as if the complex on the Central Coast is a small area of land either. It is actually spread over a 18 hectares of land at Tuggerah and has nine professional playing fields.

There is also a limit of 500 spectators allowed into any venue.

And while NRL fans are free to watch their teams with friends from different households, mums and dads of junior sporting competitors can't go together to watch their own children play as a family unit.


NSW rugby league CEO David Trodden is confused about the rules. Picture: Adam Yip
NSW rugby league CEO David Trodden is confused about the rules. Picture: Adam Yip


The one ticket is also regardless of varying family situations, and no other spectators, including children, will be allowed entry.

NSW Health has pushed the message that this was to minimise risk of community transmission.

But the decision on the Central Coast has even "confused" NSW Rugby League chief executive David Trodden in comparison to the standards applied at NRL games.

"While the safety of all of our participants and other stakeholders has always been paramount, and while respect for all the protocols has been paramount as well, we understand why people would be confused about why it is possible to attend professional sport in significant numbers but at the same time not do the same at community sport," Mr Trodden said.

Mr Trodden was also of the belief that these were recommendations, not stipulations, and for that reason could not be enforced.

However, Central Coast Junior Rugby League president Ben Spackman said he had been told fines could be issued to those not abiding by the NSW Health guidelines.

"It would make my job a lot easier if I could let everyone in, I will tell you that," Mr Spackman said.

"I am not doing it on purpose."

Mr Trodden said he felt for the local officials.

"All of the individual rugby leagues have governance control over junior competitions,' Mr Trodden said.

"But I am not going to criticise them when what they are doing is respecting recommendations of the department of health."

It comes as private schools in Queensland have gone to the lengths of hiring police to protect teachers from parents angry about spectator limits at GPS football games.

Originally published as Threat to parents exposes NRL crowds double standard