Coronavirus: NRL, Super League and A-League – which sports events are still on amid COVID-19 crisis?

By Sports Desk March 13, 2020

With coronavirus spreading across the globe, sports events, tournaments and leagues have been postponed or cancelled en masse. 

On Friday, the Premier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 followed the example of LaLiga and Serie A by suspending fixtures, while golf's Masters tournament in the United States was also postponed.

The Giro d'Italia is awaiting a new date, while the NBA, NHL and MLB seasons have all been put on hold.

Planned Six Nations fixtures have also been postponed, including Saturday's clash between Wales and Scotland in Cardiff, while England's tour of Sri Lanka and South Africa's tour of India have been scrapped.

However, despite the upheaval, some events are still set to take place.

FOOTBALL

While most of the major leagues across the globe have been suspended, some are carrying on, though often with mitigating circumstances such as playing behind closed doors.

In Argentina, both the Superliga and Primera A competitions are scheduled to continue, while matches in Australia's A-League are also set to take place. Liga MX remains, and the Russian Premier League is likewise going ahead.

RUGBY LEAGUE

Though Leeds Rhinos' meeting with Catalans Dragons has been postponed, the rest of the Super League fixtures this weekend will be played, as will the Challenge Cup matches, with fans allowed to attend.

In Australia, the first round of NRL fixtures will take place, though the second round will be held behind closed doors, based upon government advice.

CRICKET

The Indian Premier League start date has been pushed back two weeks until mid-April, but the Pakistan Super League has been given the all clear to continue – although a number of players have pulled out, leaving a reduced schedule.

Four matches this weekend precede a pair of semi-finals next week.

There are question marks over Sunday's behind-closed-doors ODI between New Zealand and Australia in Sydney, however, as Black Caps pace bowler Lockie Ferguson is in isolation after complaining of a sore throat.

RUGBY UNION

Wales-Scotland, scheduled for Saturday, was the last of the three planned Six Nations games for this weekend to fall through. The Pro14 and all French rugby union fixtures have also been halted, and Sunday's Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins belatedly joined the mass cull of fixtures.

There are six Super Rugby matches to look forward to across the course of the weekend, however, despite the Australian government advising against non-essential gatherings.

Meanwhile, the RFU Championship fixture list has also been largely unaffected, the weekend's action starting with Newcastle Falcons' home match against Bedford Blues on Friday.

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    Jason Holder saluted Shannon Gabriel and Jermaine Blackwood after they "led the charge" in a magnificent four-wicket win for West Indies over England in the first Test.  

    Fit-again quick Gabriel took 5-75 – giving him match figures of 9-137 - to bowl England out for 313 and leave the tourists needing 200 for victory on the final day at the Rose Bowl.  

    West Indies were in deep trouble on 27-3 with John Campbell having retired hurt due to a toe injury, but Blackwood and Roston Chase (37) put on 73 for the fourth wicket.  

    Recalled batsman Blackwood fell for a classy and mature 95, but Campbell returned to hit the winning runs on a gripping Sunday behind closed doors in Southampton.  

    Holder was full of praise for his side after they secured victory in the first international fixture since the coronavirus pandemic brought sport to a halt.

    The Windies captain told Test Match Special: "I'm really happy. The boys have worked hard and it's good to see it pay off. 

    "I'm happy that Gabriel came back well and Blackwood too. They put their hands up and led the charge. 

    "It was a nerve-wracking start after losing quick three wickets and Campbell to injury. But Roston and Jermaine put on a good partnership and settled the nerves. From there we could build on. 

    "I missed the Barmy Army. But it was a level playing field without the crowds. It's been a good start back to international cricket, it sets the series up quite nicely." 

    The second Test begins at the bio-secure bubble of Old Trafford on Thursday, with West Indies eyeing a first series win in England since 1988. 

  • Brilliant Blackwood stars as Windies beat England Brilliant Blackwood stars as Windies beat England

    Jermaine Blackwood justified his recall with a magnificent match-winning innings as West Indies beat England by four wickets in a gripping first Test at the Rose Bowl.

    Blackwood was given another chance to show he can cut it in the longest format after being dropped last year and he grabbed it with both hands on a tense final day behind closed doors in Southampton.

    The Windies were set 200 to win a brilliant first international match since the coronavirus pandemic brought sport to a halt, Shannon Gabriel taking 5-75 - and match figures of 9-137 - to bowl England out for 313.

    Barbados-born paceman Jofra Archer struck twice as the tourists slumped to 27-3, with John Campbell also retired hurt, but Blackwood came to the rescue.

    The Jamaican made a mature, classy 95, hitting 12 boundaries before falling agonisingly short of a second Test century - five years after his first against England.

    Roston Chase (37) provided great support for Blackwood, who was dropped on five and 20, and the Windies sealed only their second Test win in England in 20 years the final session.

    Ben Stokes will face questions over his decision to bowl first in his first match as captain, with Joe Root set to return for a second Test starting at Old Trafford on Thursday.

    Archer showed his ability with the bat after England resumed on 284-8, making a valuable 23 before he gloved Gabriel behind on the hook after Mark Wood nicked the paceman through to Shane Dowrich.

    West Indies were in need of a solid start to the run chase, but a brilliant opening spell from Archer (3-45) made it very much advantage England.

    Kraigg Brathwaite chopped on to the quick and the tourists still only had seven on the board when Shamarh Brooks was trapped leg before without scoring.

    Campbell was also back in the pavilion retired hurt after being struck on the toe by Archer and Wood got in on the act by removing Shai Hope's off stump.

    Chase survived an lbw shout before lunch, which was taken at 35-3, and Stokes could not take a chance to dismiss Blackwood in the slips, having misjudged where the ball would go.

    Chase and Blackwood ticked over nicely, but a stand of 73 ended when the former fell to a brute of a delivery in a hostile spell from Archer after Zak Crawley made a mess of a run-out opportunity.

    Blackwood played with great composure and brought up his half-century after Dowrich successfully reviewed, having been given out caught at slip off his elbow.

    The tourists needed 57 in the final session with six wickets left and Stokes removed Dowrich (20) in only his fifth over after he had him caught from the previous ball but overstepped.

    Blackwood kept a cool head and looked in complete control of the situation before driving Stokes (2-39) to James Anderson at mid-off to miss out on three figures.

    Campbell returned to join captain Jason Holder at the crease with 11 needed to triumph and the opener hit the winning runs off Stokes to seal a great victory for the Windies.

  • Hansen: NZ Rugby owes Australians nothing Hansen: NZ Rugby owes Australians nothing

    Steve Hansen says New Zealand Rugby owes Australian counterparts nothing and urged officials to be strong in talks over the future of Super Rugby.

    NZ Rugby commissioned the Aratipu review to look into the Super Rugby model and put plans in place to rebuild finances after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

    There has been talk of reducing the number of Australian teams in a new-look trans-Tasman competition.

    Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan this week compared the relationship between his governing body and NZ Rugby to a "master-servant" dynamic.

    Former All Blacks head coach Hansen has urged NZ Rugby to stand firm when negotiations take place.

    "Without being controversial, we have been looking after the Aussies for years," Hansen told Stuff Media.

    "And every time we have required something from them, particularly at a high level, sometimes they have gone missing.

    "Do we owe them something? No. But because we are the nation we are, and we care about the game more than just ourselves, we bend and buckle a bit.’"

    He added: "I think NZ Rugby are in the mood for having strong discussions … because they only get one shot at it."

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    "You don't want to be diluting the talent pool. And then you have to ask, 'Do we want our athletes travelling all around the world as much as they have been?'.

    "If the answer is 'no', you look internally into New Zealand or maybe Australia [for a structure of the tournament) because it's not far away."

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