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Rugby League-NRL considers New Zealand Grand Final in bid for crowd

Australia's National Rugby League will consider holding this year's Grand Final in New Zealand for the first time if fans are not allowed back into games elsewhere before the end of the season.

Pandemic restrictions have caused havoc with the NRL schedule since several states went into lockdown last month to suppress COVID-19 outbreaks.

That has seen games in the tournament shifted to a centralised base in Queensland and the issues have prompted the Australian Rugby League Commission to consider holding the showcase event on the other side of the Tasman Sea.

"We are keeping all our options open because our number one priority is to have crowds," Peter V'landys, the ARLC's chairman, said according to The Australian.

"It is an event and it doesn't matter where you play it if you don't have crowds."

"You could play it in a backyard really if you don't have crowds but that defeats the purpose," he added.

"If we were to play it in New Zealand it would be no different for the Australian audience if we played it in any capital city in Australia because the only way they could watch it would be on TV."

Auckland-based New Zealand Warriors play in the NRL and officials are considering holding the Grand Final in that country after Eden Park hosted rugby union's Bledisloe Cup match between Australia and New Zealand in front of 47,000 fans on Saturday.

Every NRL Grand Final has been played in Sydney since the tournament started in 1998.

"We want the event to have atmosphere because it makes no difference to anyone else because they will only be watching it on TV," said V'landys.

"And realistically by having a crowd it will give the TV audience a better experience and that is important."

(Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

Source: Reuters

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