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Australian rugby league makes return with virtual crowd noise

The Eels made it three wins from three in 2020 as the season got going again.

AUSTRALIA’S NATIONAL RUGBY League [NRL] made its return to action on Thursday as the Parramatta Eels beat the Brisbane Broncos 34-6 behind closed doors at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The NRL had been on pause since 22 March due to Covid-19 restrictions and there were signs of rust as the Eels and Broncos got the ball rolling once again.

However, there were some huge collisions from early on as the Eels earned a 12-6 half-time lead and then opened up in the second half, finishing with six tries in a victory that ensures they have won three from three games in 2020.

Interestingly, there was virtual crowd noise piped into the stadium in Brisbane in a bid to create atmosphere for viewers at home.

While there were a handful of teething issues with the control and timing of that crowd noise and how it synced up with the live action, it arguably added to the sense of excitement around rugby league’s return.

The sight of empty stands will be jarring for rugby fans for some time but the virtual crowd noise compensated for it for TV viewers.

Importantly, the referee mic was highly audible, allowing viewers to appreciate the high levels of physicality involved in the game and the players’ communication.

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Certainly, any rugby union audience will have been watching closely as the 15-man code moves towards its own return.

New Zealand’s five professional franchises will feature in the 10-week Super Rugby Aotearoa competition from 13 June, while Australian pro rugby is set for a return to action from early July.

nrl-broncos-eels Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Source: AAP/PA Images

The IRFU announced last week that it plans for professional rugby to resume in Ireland on the weekend of 22 and 23 August with inter-provincial ties between Munster, Leinster, Connacht, and Ulster. 

It remains to be seen what measures rugby unions take to help compensate for the lack of supporters in stadiums, but the NRL has already provided food for thought.

Round three of the 2020 NRL season continues tomorrow with the Cowboys hosting the Titans and the Rabbitohs taking on the Roosters. 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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