California Rugby League

By Brian Lowe,

In an effort to salvage its inaugural season, the California Rugby League (CRL) is considering the option of taking games out of the golden state, and as soon as is practicably possible.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of California is keeping in place its stay-at-home order, although Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that some businesses are being allowed to reopen via curbside pick-up, while a select few outdoor activities such as hiking, golf and swimming are being allowed in some counties provided people adhere to social distancing and wearing masks in public.

However, as far as sporting events are concerned, there is still no end date for when bans on them might be lifted.

Several professional sports leagues in the US, including Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL are looking at playing games at venues in hub cities with no fans. UFC was the first sport to do so in the past week and NASCAR was due to return on Sunday, although with no fans at the speedway.

In light of the fluid situation in California, the San Francisco-based CRL has been working closely with local authorities to try to come up with a time and place to kick off its 2020 debut season, but according to the league’s founder and director Tom Stevenson, to date, there hasn’t been much joy on that front.

“I heard back from a San Francisco city council official, who said there will be no sports in 2020,” he told Rugby League Planet.

Unperturbed, Stevenson has started the process of looking at the possibility of taking CRL games out of California and into one of its neighbouring states.

“I have floated the idea of moving weekend games during the (northern hemisphere) summer to two locations in Nevada,” he said, adding that, “I’ve had positive feedback from one of them.”

Of course, enacting such a plan would involve unusually complex logistics in order to prevent players and match officials from being infected with the coronavirus, arranging transportation, accommodation and so on and doing so with the utmost safety protocols in place.

“I have spoken with some senior players and they are all ready to go,” added Stevenson. “They are more than happy to work around the logistics and do what is necessary to play.”

To that end, the CRL is working on safety conventions in the event that it eventually gets the green light to play games, more than likely not in California.

“We are putting together a safety protocol, with the guidance of professionals, to present to local governments. It details a clear and safe way that we can return to play in a safe manner,” continued Stevenson.

The CRL played its first exhibition games in San Francisco in late 2019 and had originally planned to start its inaugural season this past March