With Rugby League in Australia now predicted to generate an average of $270 million dollars per year the game administrators have an opportunity to do something they have not been able to even think about for a very long time.
Building a legacy.
While clubs grants will be raised along with the salary cap, Rugby League will now be able to invest money in junior development as well as look to give funding to areas of the game that have been neglected for well over a decade.
There is so much more that could be done though…
Expansion is the obvious choice for the game. When you consider that it would cost just $14 million per year to fund two extra teams in the NRL, the price seems fairly low. Perth is desperate for a team and are perfect to cover the new Sunday night time slot. Meanwhile the game can look to the likes of New Zealand or even Central Queensland in an effort to build upon the games very strong base.
I wonder if anyone within the game is thinking about investing money in building a new Rugby League stadium in Sydney. With the NSW Government looking to rationalize sporting facilities in Sydney, and with ANZ Stadium less than ideal for Rugby League games, there is an opportunity for Rugby League to build the perfect Rugby League stadium in Sydney.
Base it in Sydneys west and you could look to have the Canterbury Bulldogs, West Tigers, Parramatta Eelse and South Sydney Rabbitohs playing regular games there. If you threw in the occasional Test match, and depending on its size, State Of Origin game, and it would get plenty of use.
You can also be sure that Soccer and Rugby Union would be more than willing to play games at such a stadium.
International Rugby League has been an afterthought since the mid 1990’s, but now that the game has money it can now spend, that should no longer be the case.
How much would it really cost to fund a fully independent international administration? One that could coordinate international football, rule on eligibility and even help smaller Rugby League nations with sponsorship and broadcasting deals?
Why can’t we look at bringing in a Rugby League 9’s competition during the off season with a reasonable amount of prize money on offer for the winner? NRL clubs competing against international teams in what would become a stepping stone to full international competition. Hey, it would also allow smaller nations to give their elite players a chance to represent them!
Can we now fund a fully fledged Aboriginal international team that can play representative football in the off season against the likes of Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji?
Surely it is time to have an Under 20’s World Cup at the very least. Play it in Australia every two years during the off season. Allow it to become another stepping stone towards test football and also guide players to play for their country of birth rather than have the current eligibility mess we have right now.
Why can’t we start to look at playing clubs games in different countries to try and show the world what a great game Rugby League is?
Is there a reason we couldn’t kick off the NRL season with a split first round and with a double header at Wembley Stadium?
There are so many idea that Rugby League can finally embrace, but it is up to the games administrators to show some initiative, to ignore the naysayers and have faith that Rugby League can once again make things happen.
It is a very exciting time to be a Rugby League fan. Personally, I’ve grown up watching the game get to great heights, only to see it tear itself apart. Over the next decade I watched as Rugby League survived, slowly repairing itself only to reach new heights on the strictest of budgets.
Those days are now over. Sure, we don’t want to see money being wasted, but Rugby League can afford to once again dream big.
I just hope I’m not the only one thinking like this.
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