Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V’landys has been slammed by fans after a bizarre take on the issue of allowing unvaccinated players to compete in the NRL.
The NRL's CEO Andrew Abdo last week announced that players would not be mandated to have a Covid-19 vaccine but warned unvaccinated players would be subject to more stringent protocols.
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The Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) is working closely with footy bosses to formulate a policy on unvaccinated players, with RLPA CEO Clint Newton revealing last week that a minority are still reluctant to be given their jabs.
The RLPA says it expects unvaccinated players to remain employed by the NRL and V’landys on Monday supported that stance in a strongly worded and controversial statement.
Peter V'landys is worried the #NRL is headed for a war based on vaccination status.
He's calling for clubs to maintain a united front, making it clear club bosses should not sack players who refuse the jab.@Danny_Weidler #9News pic.twitter.com/CsnWKlcY2B
— 9News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) October 25, 2021
“There is a lot of hysteria that goes on about this issue (but) a vaccinated person can also catch this disease and pass it on, just like an unvaccinated person,” V'landys told News Corp.
“An unvaccinated player is at no more risk than a vaccinated player. The only risk is that he will get very, very sick, while a vaccinated player may not get very sick at all.”
V'landys comment about risk is at odds with medical studies that indicate unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those who have been vaccinated.
Unsurprisingly, rugby league fans were quick to call out V'landys on social media.
Peter V’Landys has completely missed the point. It’s not your 95% that counts; it is that your players are representatives of community and there is a strong push for community to come together and be vaccinated! Airlines, cafe owners, emergency workers but not NRL players!
— Jason Robertson (@keenobserver74) October 25, 2021
— Tim (@TimothyJ_23) October 25, 2021
vlandys gotta realise there is going to be states out there who do not allow unvaccinated in
and yes that includes sports teams..
— The Picnics for All Chocobo💉💉 (@noreasonspec) October 25, 2021
Peter V’landys asks clubs not to sack anti-vax players
“An unvaccinated player is at no more risk than a vaccinated player. The only risk is that he will get very, very sick. While a vaccinated player may not get very sick at all.”
🗣 Peter V’landys
📎: https://t.co/zf7PgwAgUv pic.twitter.com/ppIj6D4Nss
— Jason Oliver (@JasonNRL) October 25, 2021
NRL stops short of mandating jabs
The NRL has been grappling with mandatory vaccinations since the resumption of the 2020 season when several high-profile players including Bryce Cartwright, Josh Papalii and Joseph Tapine expressed reluctance to receive jabs.
Despite many businesses and rival codes - namely the AFL - mandating employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Abdo said the NRL would leave it up to the players.
"Clearly we need to make sure we have continuity to the competition, and we are creating a safe working environment," he told Channel 7.
"We are busy working on the protocols for the players who are vaccinated and the players that are not vaccinated. Hopefully we are talking about a very small group of players.
"They will have, I'd imagine, some pretty rigorous requirements around what they will be able to do in order to train and play.
"Of course this might be taken out of our hands by health orders or by airlines, so there will be repercussions for those that don't choose to be vaccinated but it's not our approach as a governing body to mandate it.
"Between now and the end of the off-season we will have a very clear set of guidelines for how the clubs and players can get back to training safely for those who are vaccinated and those who aren't yet vaccinated."
Abdo claimed some clubs had close to 90 per cent of players and staff vaccinated with the governing body's own staff up to 98 per cent.
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