It’s been another frustrating off-season for rugby league fans with the announcement of the 2015 National Rugby League draw delayed.
The official word from the governing body’s website is “the late concession by Channel Nine to consider live telecasts of Sunday afternoon football combined with stadium juggling acts around the Cricket World Cup as well as continued use of Thursday night football and associated turnaround times has made the 2015 NRL season draw a labyrinthine maze to navigate”
Fans again may be disappointed that television scheduling is being put ahead of what best suits them.
The majority of clubs will feel the scheduling doesn’t suit the maximum potential of getting exposure on free-to-air television or boosting attendances. For example Penrith Panthers average attendance of just over eleven thousand was affected by Monday night football. Their average was second last over the sixteen teams despite being one win away from making the Grand Final. On the other hand Brisbane almost exclusively dominated Friday night football and this resulted in an average crowd of thirty-three thousand, where the Gold Coast Titans played second fiddle in south-east Queensland with a raft of Monday games and an average attendance of thirteen thousand.
News Limited has leaked the round one draw. It’s rumoured there was some delay caused by Wests Tigers agreement with ANZ Stadium to play major games at the venue including the St George-Illawarra Dragons. This was set for Monday night as the National Rugby League looked to play the majority of these matches at Sydney suburban grounds.
The first week’s draw as follows:
Thursday 5th March 2015: Brisbane Broncos vs South Sydney Rabbitohs, Suncorp Stadium, 7:45pm local
Friday 6th March 2015: Parramatta Eels vs Manly Sea Eagles, Pirtek Stadium, 7:45pm local
Saturday 7th March 2015: Newcastle Knights vs New Zealand Warriors, Hunter Stadium, 4pm local
Saturday 7th March 2015: North Queensland Cowboys vs Sydney Roosters, 1300 Smiles Stadium, 6pm local
Saturday 7th March 2015: Gold Coast Titans vs Wests Tigers, CBus Super Stadium, 8pm local
Sunday 8th March 2015: Penrith Panthers vs Canterbury Bulldogs, SportingBet Stadium, 4pm local
Sunday 8th March 2015: Cronulla Sharks vs Canberra Raiders, Remondis Stadium, 6:30pm local
Monday 9th March 2015: St George-Illlawarra Dragons vs Melbourne Storm, Kogarah Oval, 7pm local
The remainder of the draw is expected to be released mid this month.
Fans and clubs will be hoping there’s no further delays.