BENGALLA Hunter Valley Group 21 will "fall into line" with New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) by suspending all trials, pre-season competitions and training until further notice.
A special meeting of the NSWRL Board this week agreed to postpone all community rugby league until at least May 1, effective immediately, while all major NSWRL competitions have been suspended until May 31 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision was made by the NSWRL in partnership with the National Rugby League (NRL) and all affiliated states, and after carefully considering the advice from widespread consultation with NRL chief medical officer Dr Paul Bloomfield, government agencies and other key stakeholders.
From a local perspective, it means the annual Scanlon Shield - set to be played at Aberdeen on Saturday, April 18 - is now cancelled.
"At the moment, due to the current climate, we're just following NSWRL's lead," Group 21 president Simon Walmsley said.
"Our main competition isn't scheduled to kick off until the weekend of May 2 and 3 anyway, so we're not affected too much at this stage.
"We could still proceed as planned.
"But, who knows what's happening down the track.
"It will be a matter for the general committee and board of directors in conjunction with NSWRL.
"We're just asking everyone involved with the Aberdeen Tigers, Denman Devils, Greta Branxton Colts, Merriwa Magpies, Muswellbrook Rams, Murrurundi Mavericks, Scone Thoroughbreds and Singleton Greyhounds to heed all advice.
"As information is received from NSWRL, clubs, players and the general public will be updated."
NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said the recommendation covered all matches, trials, training, courses and other organisational activities in NSW.
"It's been made with the health and wellbeing of players, coaches, staff, officials and volunteers and the broader community as a paramount consideration to assist in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus," he explained.
"Community rugby league, which involves more than 100,000 grassroots players across NSW, from under-6s to open age, was due to start on April 4, but will now be delayed until at least May 1.
"The NSWRL's 13 major competitions, most of which began last weekend, with the exception of junior representative tournaments, which kicked off in February, have been suspended until May 31.
"These include the Canterbury Cup NSW, Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership, Jersey Flegg Cup, Ron Massey Cup, Newcastle Business Plaza Cup, Sydney Shield, UNE SG Ball Cup, Laurie Daley Cup, Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup, UNE Harold Matthews Cup, Andrew Johns Cup, Women's Country Championships and Men's Under-23 Country Championships."
Trodden said, given the fluidity of the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic, the NSWRL would continue to monitor and review the position based on expert advice.
"Above all else, our priority is to protect the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and supporters, as well as the broader community," he added.
"The situation regarding COVID-19 continues to change daily and we are very mindful of the need to be prepared, and take the practical, necessary measures required to maintain hygiene standards.
"At the same time, we also need to remain calm, and not add to any sense of public panic.
"We'll actively monitor the situation and make decisions in relation to COVID-19 and its impact on rugby league activity based on the advice from the government and other medical experts."