In its 50th year, the iconic NSW Koori Knockout has been postponed in response to COVID-19 concerns.

The NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout Carnival was scheduled to take place in Nowra this year after the South Coast Black Cockatoos took out the championship last year in Tuggerah, claiming the crown from 2018 winners, the Newcastle All Blacks.

Team delegates from across the state came together on Saturday to discuss the status of the 2020 Koori Knockout considering current COVID-19 restrictions.

Although restrictions have been easing across NSW, the South Coast Black Cockatoos have decided against going ahead with the Carnival due to:

  • Crowd restrictions on outdoor gatherings which would result in only teams and officials attending the carnival
  • Lack of resources to develop, implement and manage a COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan
  • Concerns of a second or third wave of the virus which would impact on community attending the Carnival, with particular concerns held for Elders and children
  • Lack of official personnel to work the carnival, including medics available to cater to injuries
  • Inability of suppliers and Aboriginal businesses to attend the event due to restrictions on gatherings and travel.

The Black Cockatoos announced the postponing in a video via Facebook before posting a media release.

The team is also concerned about injuries, with limited training time due to restrictions on the 2020 NRL season.

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), a major stakeholder in the annual event, applauded the organising committee and team delegates for making the difficult decision.

A statement from NSWALC read: “These are unprecedented times and brave decisions need to be made. NSWALC congratulates and thanks South Coast Black Cockatoos for making a call on the tournament’s 2020 status at the earliest possible stage in order to allow participants, supporters, sponsors and stakeholders to better plan the coming months.”

The South Coast Black Cockatoos announced in a media release that they are dedicated to hosting the 50th NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout Carnival at Bomaderry Sporting Complex on October long weekend in 2021.

By Rachael Knowles