Gallops Gaffe And The Question Of Leadership

David Gallop has the toughest job in sport. He is the leading figure in a sport he is not the leading figure in. He is an administrator who only took up the job as NRL CEO until the powers that be found someone who could take up the role over on a longer term basis.

This is a bloke that does his best, and yet, when he goes to bed at night he knows his job could become infinitely more difficult based on the behavior of a bunch of rich, famous 20 somethings over the course of the few hours sleep he gets.

The thing you can say about David Gallop is that through everything, he has handled himself very well. That comes from his former life as a lawyer. You’re not going to out talk Gallop.

Today however, David Gallop really put his foot in it with what amounts to nothing more that a poor gaffe.

When asked about the reaction of Melbourne Storm fans on the weekend who boo’d him as he presented the clubs with the J J Giltinan Shield as minor premiers in 2011 David Gallop said this:

“I never really go for that whole passion line. I mean, terrorists are passionate about what they do and, you know, that doesn’t make it right,” Gallop said.

“I obviously didn’t enjoy it, but I’m absolutely confident we made the right decision.”

Gallop went on to talk about the systematic salary cap rorting the club had engaged in. However, when the interviewer tried to give Gallop and “out” from such strong words, Gallop stuck to his guns.

“Well, it’s a topical one at the moment,” he said.

“Passion is a bad excuse and it gets used too much in sport … Passion isn’t something that is an excuse for poor behaviour.”

The media has reported it as “David Gallop Describes Melbourne Storm Fans As Terrorist” when the reality is, he did no such thing. His real crime was to use terrorism as a segue into talking about an issues in what is nothing more than a sport. He also happened to do it when feelings are high in the days following the ten year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Stupid, and very unlike David Gallop. Nothing more sinister than that.

The real issue for me is this…

I find it shocking that the CEO of the NRL has taken so long to visit two clubs who have had strained relationships with the NRL itself, the Manly Sea Eagles and the Melbourne Storm.

David Gallop travels far and wide in his role as the NRL’s CEO. Hell, he goes well outside of his black and white job description and gets involved in community programs, promoting junior Rugby League, promoting general education and welfare programs the game supports, he does a fine job in that respect.

Still, his core role as an administrator of the NRL should dictate that his first and foremost commitment must be towards the 16 clubs that currently make up the national Rugby League.

It has never sat right with me that, when it was revealed the Melbourne Storm has been systematically rorting the NRL’s salary cap, David Gallop and his team were not straight down to Melbourne and working out of Melbourne while the whole saga played out.

This was a moment in time in the games history, we have never seen cheating of the same scale as we saw in Melbourne. The boss had to turn up! He had too! He just had too…

To have waited for so long before he turned up in Melbourne is something I just can’t get my head around. As the boss, I’d have been down there to, at the very least, have shown players support, the club support, to ensure that everyone knew the future of the club was safe and that the NRL would work with the clubs and players, not against them, to ensure that everything was worked out and in 2001 the club was able to move on.

By not doing that, Gallop and the NRL created the opportunity for a “Us vs Them” scenario to develop, even if it is a false stance to hold.

I am the Melbourne Storms biggest admirer but this stance by their fans that the NRL is in some way the bay guy in this whole thing is fucking ridiculous. It is a cop out. It smacks of complete and utter stupidity.

The Storm were the ones that did the wrong thing. The Storm where the ones that let the game down. The former administration of the Melbourne Storm are the ones that destroyed everything that fans of the clubs loved. THEY are the ones that should receive fans venom, not the CEO of the NRL!

As a fan of the Penrith Panthers, I want my clubs to do well, and I enjoy seeing them be successfull (For a handful of years of my lifetime anyway). However, I’m not a blind follower. I can stand back from my love of the club and be critical of how it is run when I need to be.

Blind support isn’t the best support. Give me a supporter base that demands accountability of the team it supports every day of the week over supporters that feel like their club can do no wrong.

Melbourne supporters booing the NRL CEO is at some level understandable, but at the end of the day smacks of blind stupidity. Storm fans simply need to get over it. They need to cop the penalties levels against the club firmly on the chin.

There is no wiggle room to play with. The Melbourne Storm did the wrong thing and the NRL, in its role as administrators of the competition, was just doing its job.

David Gallop has had his first misstep as the CEO of the NRL. He doesn’t deserve to be crucified for it. However, this does take me back to my questions that revolve around the leadership in our game.

Who is actually in charge of Rugby League in Australia?

We don’t actually have anyone that has the job to lead this game and push it forward. No one who can have a vision for the sport or who can call a club to order when they are out of line. We have no one who the clubs fear, but also respect. We have no one that can make a decision without have to wait for a bunch of different committee’s to have a meeting to tell him what he can or can not do.

David Gallop’s role is that of a pure administrator. At the end of the day his job description starts and ends with just keeping the NRL running.

What Rugby League needs though is a true leader. Someone who is unquestionably in charge of the sport. Who can make the big decision and who everyone knows is the go to person when you need to get something done.

David Gallop has done a very good job as the CEO of the NRL. He should be allowed to continue that roles into the future.

Still, I ask, who will be the person that is the real leader of the entire game of Rugby League in Australia?

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