Almanac Rugby League – NRL 2020 Round 3: We’re back – but hopefully we’re not the same

The NRL’s 2020 season recommences tonight after an almost 10-week, COVID-19-induced break. For some, it’s a case of ‘Thank goodness – at last!’; for others it’s more a matter of ‘Well, that will at least give us some top level sport to watch’; but I can’t help but feel that for a not insignificant number of people, including some rugby league fans, it will be a case of ‘Who cares?’


I think I’m somewhere in between the last two options. I really like my code but I can’t say that I’ve missed it all that much, especially the inane, largely contrived media hype that is served up all too often as ‘informed commentary’. Is it too much to hope that the enforced lay-off might have given the code’s insiders and providers the opportunity to rethink and reshape what we, the fans want and what we get? We don’t want ‘a match day experience’; we don’t want self-important boofheads ranting on about their pet hates or lauding their favourite players to an execrable extent; we don’t want megaphone commentators or pulsating music – why the hell would you have that when there’s no crowd? Atmosphere shatmosphere! We don’t want…(add your own pet hates here).


We just want to watch some good, entertaining, ball-running, tough, skilful footy where the players on the field are front and centre and where the commentators provide measured, insightful (and brief) comments. I live in (false?) hope.


We’ll also be looking out for the impact of adjudication adjustments such as the single on-field ref and the option of ‘six again’ for ruck infringements as well as those changes implemented from the start of the season including the captain’s challenge, the 24/40 kick and the options for the placement of the scrum.


As the weeks pass, we’ll make our judgements on the V’landys juggernaut style of administration, the attempt to move to limited spectators, limited playing grounds that may well favour some clubs (think Parramatta), Origin in November, and an asterisk to denote the validity or otherwise of the eventual premiers.


And all of that is predicated on the season re-starting and continuing when there will be calls for ‘all out’ if one or more players test positive to COVID-19, or a second wave of infections hits the community generally, or a referee or club support person gets the virus. At least that might get State border closures and squabbling Premiers off the front page.


What will happen on the field is anyone’s guess. ‘Form’ from 10 weeks ago means nothing now; the odd suspension for interim idiocy might hurt a couple clubs in the short term; an unusual swathe of injuries, both old and new, will have some impact; the Warriors have had to make the biggest sacrifice, so it will interesting to see how they cope. Otherwise, we’re back at Square One when it comes to who’s hot and who’s not. The only carryover from March is the ladder after two rounds which, in itself, places pressure on a few teams to perform immediately before their season slips away before it has even (re-)begun.


Let the games begin!


Here’s the draw for Round 3:


Thursday May 28:
Broncos v Eels at Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm


Friday May 29:
Cowboys v Titans at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 6.00pm
Roosters v Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium, 7.55pm


Saturday May 30:
Warriors v Dragons at Central Coast Stadium, 3.00pm
Sharks v Tigers at Bankwest Stadium, 5.30pm
Storm v Raiders at AAMI Park, 7.35pm


Sunday May 31:
Panthers v Knights at Campbelltown Stadium, 4.05pm
Sea Eagles v Bulldogs at Central Coast Stadium, 6.30pm


And, for what it’s worth, my tips are: Brisbane, Cowboys, Roosters, Warriors, Sharks, Storm, Panthers and Sea Eagles.




To read the Almanac’s collection of rugby league articles, click here.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.




About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.


  1. Agree with everything, Ian. Go the Broncs!

  2. Andy Thurlow says

    Terrific article Ian, again. I know you love the Broncos, so it is with mild (well non-existent really) trepidation to say that I really enjoyed last evening’s game between Parramatta and Brisbane. As an AFL nut I am still learning about your code, but I thought it was fast, skilful, running rugby. The ref seemed non-existent (a good thing) and I even thought the taped crowd noise added at least some atmosphere. I can see these new rules changing the code dramatically, with a greater emphasis on aerobic capacity. Anyway, for what it’s worth, congratulations to the organisers and the players for a great display of courage and skill.

  3. Jan, not a lot to cheer about last night – well beaten by a far better side. It could be a long shortened season, if you know what I mean.

    Andy, I sat down to watch with modest hope but thought that the signs were there early – Parra made easy yardage up the centre, were more creative in attack, and hard and aggressive in defence. We got 30 points closer than last time but still lost by 28! A simple case of ‘too big, too strong, too fast’. We saw a well-led team barely extended by a leaderless and disjointed group of players. The loss of captain Glenn was not helpful but I don’t think it would have made much difference. Only Turpin, Haas, Croft and Carrigan can hold their heads up this morning. Parra looked very good, mobile, co-ordinated and keen as mustard.

    As for the new rules, one ref worked well except that the 10 metres in the ruck was very skinny. A few positive early calls of ‘6 again’ was the key to making it a running game. (Broncos slow to learn, Parra quick to capitalise.) Let’s hope other refs take notice and employ it, too. (Although I did think the application fell off a bit in the last quarter of the game.)

    Biggest disappointment was the commentary – still indulgent, inflated and infuriating. C’mon Channel 9 – move on with the times. We don’t want the same old rubbish.

  4. IJH

    I saw the second half – on delay. And, despite the close score, at that stage, the Eels looked dominant. I reckon they had about five repeat sets. But the defence held and I thought, for a few moments, this might be one of those stirring performances where the dominant team is thwarted. But I was wrong. The Eels looked very good and ran away with it -probably could have won by more.

  5. george smith says

    Loved the Mr Fourex cutouts in the grand stands. What a happy little Vegemite he is! Even if his team is getting done 30 to 6 he is still there with a smile, a wink and a full glass of beer to remind us that life isn’t so bad after all!

    if you don’t like the fake cheers tune into ABC radio. They have assured us that they will give us only the sounds from the field – players shouting, the sound of the ball hitting something, and the reaction from the team when a try is scored.

  6. I watched all the match last night.

    I found the 4X cardboard cutouts intriguing. It’ll be a trendsetter.

    Less impressed by the ‘crowd’ noises; sounded very muffled on our TV.

    Something i found intriguing was the ammount of players spitting. This was quite obvious/visible from the get go. I know cricket is taking action re using spit on the ball; did i imagine there was discussion re other sporting codes about spitting, trying to discourage it ?


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