The National Rugby League (NRL) took the drastic measure to suspend the 2020 season on Monday 23 March due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
They followed the AFL, who on Sunday announced their season would be suspended until at least 31 May.
Australian Rugby League chairman Peter V’landys said the call was made because they could “no longer guarantee player safety because of the rapid rate of infection”, leaving them with “simply no other option”.
V’landys described this unprecedented scenario as a “dark day in our game’s history”, saying it is the “biggest financial crisis in the game’s history”.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said the NRL has never faced a challenge like this, suggesting there will be a “significant” financial impact on the code.
In a statement on their website, the Newcastle Knights said they were saddened by the news but agreed with the tough decision the NRL was forced to make.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of our players, staff, members and fans is always the top priority in the wake of the COVID-19 virus threat.”
They also thanked their sponsors for their ongoing support and assured loyal fans they will be ready to once the season is underway again.
The statement finished with a passionate message to the entire Knights community:
“In times of adversity, Knights supporters show their best self.
“You are resilient people. Our players and staff are too.
“We hope our opening two performances made you proud and we can promise you, this is only the beginning.
“We are united in this and appreciate your patience and understanding.”
Due to the multifaceted financial uncertainty surrounding the NRL’s future, there is a real fear that the future of several clubs could be in doubt.
Despite these concerns, V’landys refused to rule out the NRL coming back this year, telling Fox League’s NRL 360 their primary objective is to get the game back on as quickly as possible.
All clubs were informed by the NRL on Tuesday 24 March that head office is currently looking into resuming the competition as early as June, and as late as 1 September.
A 1 September kick-off would see shortened 15-game season in which every team plays off once, with a grand final played by 21 December.