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AFL season to start tonight as NRL clubs also vote to play on during coronavirus crisis

Staff writers, March 18, 2020 6:00PM News Corp Australia Network

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The gates were locked to fans at Richmond’s AFL training sessions this week ahead of Thursday night’s season opener match against Carlton. Picture: AAP media_cameraThe gates were locked to fans at Richmond’s AFL training sessions this week ahead of Thursday night’s season opener match against Carlton. Picture: AAP


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The AFL has decided the 2020 season will go ahead starting tonight with Richmond and Carlton to play in front of an empty MCG.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said the AFL industry was united* in its decision to play, which was made after marathon talks with players and officials and taking expert advice from the Government and medical experts about the coronavirus* crisis.

“We don’t know how many games we will get into this 153-game journey before we have to pause, but what I do know today is that I feel comfortable with the government and medical advice,” McLachlan said last night.

media_cameraAFL CEO Gillon McLachlan announces round 1 will go ahead. Picture: AAP

“Our industry is unified* in making this decision to start.

“This season will not look like any other.

“But footy is resilient*, and footy will find a way through.

The coronavirus outbreak has rocked world sport with many competitions calling off matches and several AFL players — including Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury — tested.

So far no players have tested positive.

AFL season will go ahead for 2020

Strict measures have already been introduced in the AFL with a reduced number of league and club worker allowed at games and players training behind closed doors and giving media appearances via video link.

The NRL has also decided to continue its season into round 2 with all 16 club chief executive officers voting unanimously* to keep the season going.

In a rarely seen act of solidarity* within rugby league, each of the 16 clubs declared their support of the NRL’s decision to play on and declared their players and staff were also backing the code.

Rabbitohs v Sharks media_cameraFans were allowed to watch games live last week but the NRL has now banned crowds attending live matches from round 2 onwards. Picture: David Swift.

The NRL will fly teams to all games in private jets and abandon overnight stays in hotels in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Clubs have also introduced extreme new measures where all non-essential staff won’t be allowed to interact with players at training or at games starting from this round. NRL matches will be played without fans from round 2 as well.

Meanwhile, the A-League and W League will continue but play to empty stadiums and the International Olympic Committee said the plans for the Tokyo Olympics in late July are still on track. 

Other major sporting events that have been affected include:

  • The Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix race cancelled
  • French Open tennis tournament moved to September
  • Premier League soccer cancelled
  • One Day International cricket series between Australia and New Zealand and the Sheffield Shield final.
  • SuperRugby season suspended.
  • NBL finals season suspended after three matches.
  • Swimming national championships cancelled.


  • united: joined by a common purpose or feeling
  • coronavirus: any of a group of viruses that cause a variety of diseases in humans and other animals
  • unified: joined by a common purpose or feeling
  • resilient: able to bounce back from difficulty
  • unanimously: acting in total agreement
  • solidarity: agreement


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  1. Which AFL teams will open the 2020 season?
  2. How many games are there in this AFL season?
  3. Name s3 strict measures either the AFL or NRL have introduced?
  4. How will NRL players travel to games?
  5. Name 3 other major sporting events that have been cancelled.

to come

With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP

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