GAME STOPPED: Host club Ballina called a halt during the NRRRL U18s grand final match due to the spectators not complying with COVID-19 social distancing. A limit of500 spectators meant people had to wait for those watching earlier games to leave the ground.
GAME STOPPED: Host club Ballina called a halt during the NRRRL U18s grand final match due to the spectators not complying with COVID-19 social distancing. A limit of500 spectators meant people had to wait for those watching earlier games to leave the ground.

NRRRL U18s grand final halted due to crowd breaches

A HALT was called part way through the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League U18 grand final between Ballina and Marist Brothers due to COVID-19 social distancing not being observed by the crowd.

Police were in attendance at the four match gala at Kingsford Smith Park and were called on by host club Ballina to enforce crowd numbers which were limited to 500.

Ballina Seagulls Rugby League Club vice president and COVID-19 safety officer, Max Beecher, said the club had appealed for an exemption to have 1000 people into the ground rather than the 500 limit they were allocated, but it was not to be.

"We had to stop the game because people were not social distancing," he said.

"We also had people tear a couple of holes in the fence and had more people in than we were allowed, so we had to sort this out and ensure we were back to the appropriate number allowed."

Outside the ground, long queues of supporters waited patiently and, in some cases, not so patiently, to be allowed inside.

An announcement over the loudspeakers implored people who had watched the U18 game to leave the ground to allow for those waiting to watch the reserves match.

"If people do not maintain social distancing we may have to close down again and we may not re-open," the announcer said.

Mr Beecher said security staff backed by police did an good job of ensuring everyone signed in according to pandemic regulations.

Ballina U18s defeated Marist Brothers 3016.