When Rugby League gained independence and gained control over its own destiny, it was seen as a great day for the sport in Australia. The game was once again able to stand on its own two feet. It was able to set its own agenda. It was able to control its own future and it didn’t have to ask for permission to make important decisions.
The Australian Rugby League commission was formed, we got a new CEO for the NRL in David Smith, and the entire structure of the game was changed to make the governing body work for the game in a more efficient way.
I have concerns so far with the direction this new administration is controlling the game. So far we have seen a number of decisions made that almost make you feel as though the National Rugby League is trying to apologize to non Rugby League fans about what the on field product is. Its as though the NRL see’s the game itself as an obstacle to marketing “the product” to the masses.
Any time someone attacks the game for being too violent or putting players at risk, the NRL reacts in a way that changes the fabric of the game. We are now at a point where the NRL’s own doctors feel they can come out and attack the collision aspect of the sport and know there will be no repercussions.
While the sport does need checks and balances, every single voice demanding Rugby League needs to change doesn’t need to be answered. Some people who do not like the game, and who will never like the game, are seeing their vision for Rugby league being realized over the voice of the masses, current Rugby League fans.
When a huge ground turned up in Perth to watch the Rabbitoh’s play the Warriors, it should have been a huge moment for the game. It would have been the perfect moment to announce that the game was going to expand.
We all know the National Rugby League needs to spread its wings. We know that the sport needs to expand into a new market. Perth has a fantastic stadium, it can already draw big crowds and it has a very good junior competition that has already produced NRL quality players.
What are our administrators waiting for?
Then today, the Bulldogs were forced to move a game from their home ground of ANZ Stadium so that an AFL team, with a stadium of its own at the SCG, could play a game there. There was never any resistance put up. The NRL submitted to the whims of the ANZ Stadium management and the AFL without hesitation.
At what point will the National Rugby League stand up for Rugby League? At what point will they show complete, unwavering confidence in the sport?
What is the NRL worried about? It is almost as though they are fearful of the sport! That they are so worried about standing up to criticism that they have formed a culture of folding at the first sign of trouble!
Someone needs to stand up for Rugby League in Australia. We need an administration that is aggressive and that is willing to fight for the game. Right now, we don’t have that.
If John Grant, The ARL, David Smith and the NRL don’t stand up and start to lead this game soon, it will start going backwards. Then we will all be looking towards having another revolution to bring in a new administration. If that happens, the revolution will turn bloody.
Just look back at Super League for an example of what happens when clubs decide the games administration isn’t doing a good enough job…
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com