The Sydney Roosters threat to challenge the NRL on the Salary Cap under the Trade Practices act is the second most disgraceful act by a Rugby League club since the Brisbane Broncos decision to help build Super League.
Coming off of a golden era for the club, the Roosters have played in three NRL Grand Finals, winning one of them and claiming the World Club Championship over the last four years.
The Sydney Roosters are a Rugby League success story.
However the Roosters success is not a shining light for other clubs to follow.
This is a team that has been very fortunate to pick up the likes of Craig Wing and Brad Fittler under exceptional circumstances. The Roosters are a top heavy club, an upside down pyramid.
The Rooster have the smallest junior base for any professional Rugby League club in the world. Instead of developing junior talent through this system the Roosters have had to rely on signing the majority of their players from other clubs.
This threat by the Roosters is just one point in a campaign run by the club throughout the year.
The Roosters have been calling for the salary cap to be increased because, in their opinion, they are a successful club that should not be forced to lose playing talent because they are so successful.
They signed these young players and made them Origin and Test stars. Why should they put in all that hard work only to see these players leave the club because of the salary cap?
The truth of the matter is that when a top class player in the NRL comes off contract, the Roosters are the first ones waiting with cheque book in hand to sign them.
In recent seasons the Roosters have tried to sign Ryan Girdler and Craig Gower from Penrith at a time when the Panthers were struggling to retain their two best players because of salary cap restraints. Why weren’t the Roosters upset because Penrith had invested years of effort into both players taking them from relative unknowns to being test players?
The Roosters signed boom Broncos winger Justin Hodges. The Broncos were desperate to keep him however they just could not match the Roosters offer. Why didn’t the Roosters hold back and allow the club that developed him to reap the rewards of all their hard work.
The Roosters went all out in signing promising young Raiders halfback Brett Finch from a club struggling to build a successful NRL team once again. At the time the Roosters only had Craig Wing at halfback!
I remember a time when the Roosters were also rans. A club with few good players and a club that survived on signing rejects from opposition teams. However over the years the Roosters have managed to build one of, if not the best squad in Rugby League.
The reason they have been able to do this is because of the same salary cap which they are now looking to destroy.
After the most successful year in Australian Rugby League history this act is like a dagger in the heart of the game.
We now have 13 highly successful NRL teams with strong playing talent and with a true chance of not only making the playoffs, but as Penrith showed in 2003 these clubs have a shot at winning the NRL Premiership.
The foundation that this exciting, record breaking, highly successful season was built upon was the salary cap that has slowly but surely evened up the NRL competition.
If the salary cap is thrown out in court, that same competition that has propelled the NRL to such success in 2003 will be lost.
The Sydney Roosters need to realise that the health of their club rests in the strength of the other 14 NRL teams.
If competition in the NRL is hurt, that directly affects things such as sponsorship, attendances, Television and radio ratings….all things that helped the Roosters build themselves into the club they are today.
If Sanyo doesn’t pay a struggling Penrith side millions in sponsorship because they are a poor club with no chance of climbing out of the cellar, why should newly named Roosters sponsors Samsung pay even more money for a club that has been competitive in the NRL for a number of years. Do the Roosters believe that Samsung would have paid the same amount of sponsorship money if the NRL’s TV ratings and general interest falls way?
Without the salary cap the Roosters wouldn’t be able to look forward to a big attendance when the Panthers, Warriors, Dragons and Knights play at Aussie Stadium next season. Its been shown that Australian fans will not turn up if a blow-out score line is on the cards.
Television and radio ratings would fall as competition fell away. Sponsors would not get the bang for the buck their do now affecting the average sponsorship clubs receive across the League.
With the loss of ratings would come lower Television and Radio deals, all of which is package into a grant by the NRL to all 15 clubs.
The Roosters need to realise that for their club to prosper on and off the field they need the other 15 clubs to also prosper. If they don’t believe that is the case then they should go and play exhibition games for a living and see the dramatic effect a lack of competition has on the club.
The Broncos, Panthers, Warriors, Raiders, Knights, Dragons, Storm, Cowboys, Eels, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Tigers, Bulldogs and Sea Eagles are all in the same business as the Sydney Roosters. However these teams are not competitors, they are partners in the business that is the National Rugby League.
As soon as one of these clubs falls on hard times it has an effect on the other 15 NRL clubs. The Roosters would realise their attendances fall away when they play Manly, the West’s Tigers or North Queensland. They realise that games against these teams with lower playing strength do not get them on free to air Television.
Imagine the effect it would have on the Roosters core business if they could only rely on three or four big games per season.
The Sydney Roosters were one of the clubs on the front line of the Super League war. They were fighting against an opposition that had torn the game apart because of money, greed and self interest. Unlike other teams that they fought along side, the Rooster came out of the ordeal stronger. But those within the club never forgot the wound inflicted on the game during that time and the toll the Super League war had on great clubs such as the Manly Sea Eagles, The Illawarra Steelers and the Canberra Raiders.
Now less then 10 years on the battle lines have been drawn again. This time however it’s the Roosters who are the culprits that are willing to hold the game to ransom for their own self interest.
Let’s hope that sanity prevails on this matter because while Rugby League chips away at its greatest successes there is a long line of other sports ready to take great chunks out of the games we love to play.
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