‘Player safety always comes first’: The NRL explains why Sunday’s game at Belmore won’t be delayed

Sunday’s game between the Bulldogs and West Tigers was not in danger of being delayed even though conditions on the ground were at one point severe enough to warrant a postponement.

The New South Wales Cup match at Belmore kicked off when it was nearly 38 degrees, causing some reserves to vomit in the sweltering heat, while a stadium employee collapsed an hour before the NRL game was to start.

The weather eased slightly as the afternoon wore on, but it remained hot and humid which made life difficult for the players and spectators.

NRL Head of Football Graham Ansley explained how the NRL operates with their heat policy, explaining that they use a Kestrel Heat Stress Tracker reading taken 40 minutes before kick-off from midfield.

This technology was developed by a university professor of heat and health and gives a better understanding of the physiological and physical factors that determine human heat stress and the risks associated with heat-related health problems.

The home team physician is required to have a tracker on each game and a copy of the formula that broadcasts our four digit heat stress index.

The Kestrel Heat Stress Tracker that the NRL uses as part of its heat policy.
camera iconThe Kestrel heat stress tracker is used by the NRL as part of their heat stress policy. picture; supplied credit: supplied

The Kestrel Tracker measures air temperature, humidity, air velocity, and globe temperature, and is a measure of the combined effects of sunlight, air temperature, and air velocity.

Once numbers are entered into the formula, results are color-coded and recommendations are agreed upon by the club’s Chief Medical Officer and the NRL’s Grounds Manager.

Green is a heat stress index of less than 150 where no cooling breaks are required, yellow is 150-200 where cooling breaks are required, red is 200-250 where extended breaks are recommended, and anything over 250 blacks out and results in delays or delays. pending game.

Sunday’s game was in the black zone earlier in the afternoon but slipped back into the red zone when Reading recorded.

“We were nowhere close to being postponed,” Annesley said on a weekend that saw the heat policy implemented in six of the eight games, resulting in drink breaks, a longer half-time period and allowing clubs to use more coaches to bring in out of the water.

“Earlier in the day the conditions were worse and it started to taper off as you progressed later in the day.

“Long before kick-off it was back in the red so there were no suggestions that yesterday’s game would be delayed.

Data from the NRL on how it determines whether a game should be delayed due to extreme heat.
camera iconData from the NRL on how it determines whether a game should be delayed due to extreme heat. picture; supplied credit: supplied

“I don’t think it’s been implemented for the entire time this system has been in place for a number of years, so there must be extraordinary circumstances (for it to be delayed) because you can’t tinker with this.

“It’s an automatic calculation, so it’s not like the NRL is going to say ‘it’s in the black but it’s close enough to the red’.”

Annesley defended the 250 mark after Tiger coach Tim Shines suggested Sunday’s game might be postponed.

“It’s been scientifically arrived at, so it’s not just about choosing the NRL. These are numbers developed in consultation with scientific experts in terms of the effect of heat on people,” he said.

“It’s not something we would change without expert advice.”

One of the biggest factors the NRL will have to deal with if they delay the game is how the broadcasters will react given Channel Nine has the news after Sunday’s 4pm game, while the Fox League has shown the Raiders hosting Cronulla.

“Of course we will work with our broadcasters, but the safety of the players always comes first,” said Annesley.

“It’s not unlike some of the things we’ve had in the past where there was lightning and we had places where the power went out so we had to delay matches.

In extraordinary circumstances, extraordinary things happen.

“If we have to deal with conditions where it’s too hot to play, we’ll work with our broadcasters and we’ll make it happen.”

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