The NRL’s 2019 season has been axed only days before kick-off and will be replaced by the inaugural Rugby League 3s tournament.
And the nation’s league fans have been promised a pulsating, try-a-minute competition that will have them on the edge of their seats right through to the Big Dance on October 6.
The commercial contract between the Australian Rugby League Commission and Telstra has been ripped up, 3 Mobile is the new sponsor and the NRL teams will now play for the 3 Mobile Premiership Cup (pictured above).
All matches in the existing NRL 2019 calendar will still go ahead, but the 16 teams will play four 10-minute quarters across the field, with the last 30 metres of each end of the traditional rugby league field disbanded to form the new sidelines.
Each team will have three “starting” players and three “reserves” who can come off and on as many times as team coaches want. All teams will be allowed to draw players from reserve-grade ranks to make up their 3 Cup sides, if they can find any lower-grade players eligible, that is.
Tries will still be worth four points and the extra two points come from slotting a drop-kicked ball from the centre T through much narrower posts – only 1.5 metres apart – centrally situated on each tryline which were previously the sideline.
Trial matches on Saturday between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney City Roosters produced basketball scorelines of between 80 and 100 points per side, with the biggest winning margin being 12.
Asked what he thought of the new competition format, Rabbitohs’ coach Wayne Bennett stared silently at the Bug’s sports reporter for 12 minutes before walking off.
The new 3s format was decided on only on Friday by the Australian Rugby League Commission after thorough investigations by all 16 NRL clubs showed that six was about the average number of first-grade-listed players in each team who have not in recent months illegally recorded and willfully and illegally distributed videos of themselves having macho sex, often in groups, and mostly with women but with a fair spattering of dogs, cats, farm animals and loungeroom and patio furniture.
ARLC chair Peter Beattie (also pictured above) quipped to The Bug: “Who else would you get to sponsor a Rugby League 3s competition other than 3 Mobile?” before changing his expression as only he and Bob Katter Jnr can do so well and adding: “But seriously it’s going to be a great spectacle and most importantly of all, family friendly.”
To ensure a scandal-free inaugural season of the League 3s, the NRL is demanding that all registered players must:
. forfeit all phones and cameras for the duration of the season;
. abstain from alcohol for the duration of the season; and
. agree to pre-season chemical castration.