How hot is too hot for rugby league?
Melbourne Storm player Cooper Cronk. AAP Image/Julian Smith
After Craig Bellamy’s moaning about the heat following the Storm’s round one swelter against St George Illawarra, the question of how hot is too hot for footy is set to be raised yet again by sun stricken supporters on the Gold Coast this weekend.
Contrary to any logical reason or judgement, the NRL has scheduled the Titans to play the Raiders on Sunday afternoon. At 1pm. In Queensland. In March.
Even taking out the fact that Sydney clubs are crying out for Sunday arvo matches while fans on the GC actually prefer the otherwise unpopular Saturday night timeslot (hey, you can’t go to the beach in the dark), the decision is still more ridiculous than the crotch pointing arrows on Super League era jerseys.
It’s Queensland in March for Christ sake! Sure it’s rained for three months, but if the sun does poke its head out you can get burnt to crisp just walking to your letter box at 1pm, let alone sitting directly under it for a couple of hours on a plastic seat.
I attended the Titans’ opening match last year, also in round two against the Raiders in the annual Weyman-Conn cup. That game was a Saturday game that kicked off at 4:30pm, and even at the much later timeslot the conditions were loathsome for spectators.
And, that’s not to mention the $11 million odd dollars’ worth of talent on the field standing around with their hands on hips blowing like the Vatican’s chimney, dropping endless balls through sheer fatigue and cramping up every 15 seconds.
Personally I would argue there exists no weather too cold for a sport like rugby league, as the players warm up a lot through the contact and in the stands fans can always rug up. Devoted fans from the ACT to Cumbria are testament to this.
Heat though? Forget it. Rugby league and hot weather mix about as well as pineapple cruisers and Canberra’s backline.
All week there have been discussions by the boffins not currently being ASADA’d about how we should consider humidity, UV indexes, squelchometers etc. to determine whether conditions require special heat exemptions for an NRL match.
There’s a very simple way to measure it. If you can’t sit in the stands, wearing a footy jersey without breaking out in a sweat during a match, then conditions are simply too hot.
Players hate it. The medicos hate it. And, most importantly, the fans hate it.
I’d like to blame this all on some anti-Queensland conspiracy, but those running the game are smart enough to make season long kick-off time concessions for the Cowboys, why not just four weeks leeway for some other sides? Gold Coast, Penrith, Melbourne, Brisbane etc.?
Sure I’ll still be at the match getting sun stroke with the rest of the loonies for whom rugby league is an unshakeable addiction, but my preference would be to attend a game that didn’t require me to employ my own personal Ronnie Palmer to get through proceedings without collapsing.
So please NRL, put your thinking caps on or, alternatively, lend them to us dumb bastards who’ll be sitting out in the scorching Gold Coast sun this Sunday.
Follow Chris on Twitter @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious