You are not a Rugby League supporter, you are the supporter of an NRL club.
You don’t care about the sport of Rugby League, all you care about if how well your NRL club performs this season.
You will not enjoy any Rugby League match your watch this year except for those involving the club you BELONG to.
Welcome to the thought process of your typical NRL club administrator.
Rugby League is a nice sized sport with a fairly committed supporter base. While most of my readers view the sport through the eyes of a nation in which it is very easy to enjoy the game, a lot of my readers also live in places where you have to go out of your way and put in effort to play, or watch the sport.
Rugby League is played in so many different parts of the world and it is loved by people don’t seek the spotlight in their efforts to promote the game. There are people right now who use little more than word of mouth to establish clubs in local areas, who take money out of their own pockets to buy basic gear to make sure games can be played, and who do all of this without any support from a league, a club or an association.
In Australia, NRL clubs have huge resources. They recieve around $8 million per season directly from the NRL for their participation in the NRL competition. On top of that they sell sponsorship at their stadiums and on their jerseys. They receive gate takings from events. They sell tens of thousands of club memberships. For six months of every year they receive at least 2 hours of live, uninterrupted airtime, during prime time, which is invaluable in promoting themselves and becoming a vehicle for big business who want our eyeballs so they can try to sell us stuff.
There are people that are part of the NRL “industry” who want to see the game grow and prosper from a moment in its history that sees the game properly funded for the first time ever, in high demand by broadcasters on pretty much every platform, and who want to make lifelong fans of not only die hard Rugby League supporters, but casual fans with free time on their hands who are looking for a leisure activity to take up their spare time.
One of the ways the game is trying to expand is through the Auckland 9’s. Granted, it took a private company to put together a business model that it then showed the NRL could work, and it needed to guarantee every single tournament would turn a profit without fail for the NRL to even consider having the Auckland 9’s take place, but the NRL did give the event the green light after consulting with clubs who had two major stipulations.
1. Every single NRL club had to receive money for participating in the Auckland 9’s.
2. No other Rugby League teams or clubs from any other competitions were allowed to take part in the Auckland 9’s. The competition had to be a close shop, only available to NRL clubs.
The deal was signed, the competitions were played, everyone made money, and supporters enjoyed watching games as an unofficial start to the Rugby League season.
You would think everyone would be happy with that outcome. Well, no.
Supporters didn’t complain about the Auckland 9’s. The players didn’t complain about the Auckland 9’s. The company running the competition didn’t complain about the Auckland 9’s. The NRL itself didn’t complain about the Auckland 9’s.
NRL club administrators and coaches can not stop complaining about a competition that is new, allowed them an entire weekend in New Zealand to promote themselves, was allowed to be played by fringe first graders, and a competition that they receive money from every single year.
You would think that business must be pretty good for NRL clubs if they can trash a competition that puts money in their pocket. No. The same administrators who complain about the Auckland 9’s being a distraction or a waste of time consistently run NRL clubs at a loss, year on year, and they are never held accountable for it.
If NRL club shad their way the season would be a few weeks longer. We would have no test match football, no Auckland 9’s, no NRL All Star Game, money spent on expanding the game would be cut back and handed to NRL clubs, there would be a draft in place so that NRL clubs could cut back on the money they spend developing players, the NRL administration would be cut back an clubs would make all the decisions, the Australian Rugby League Board would be full of NRL club officials and the only Rugby League you would ever get would be via NRL club sanctioned events that all make money for the clubs and no one else….and they would all just be regular season NRL games.
How good does all of that sound!
I don’t know about you by I am a fan of the game of Rugby League way more than I am a fan of the club I support. If my club disappeared tomorrow I’d be pretty upset about it, but I would watch the exact same amount of Rugby League for the rest of my life.
This sport does not just belong to NRL clubs. NRL clubs do not own the game. If the Super League War taught us anything it is that people love the Sport of Rugby League in spite of the insular greed and jealousy that fuels most clubs.
When I look at the Auckland 9’s I see a future for the sport. I think about the possibilities of an international Rugby League 9’s circuit played by specialist 9’s players who can forge a career in the short form of the game while providing incredible opportunities to expand the entire sport of Rugby League. I see an easy gateway to expand the international game, a slightly easier, less demanding form of Rugby League that is far more forgiving than test match football.
I see Rugby League 9’s as a way the sport can establish itself in new areas, getting a foot in the door and opening up the possibility that the wider game can then kick it in and showcase what an amazing game Rugby League is.
NRL clubs don’t see that. All they see is a waste of time they get paid to be a part of every February.
It should be noted that the same company that runs the Rugby League Auckland 9’s has established a Rugby Union equivalent.
The Brisbane Global 10’s will take part on February the 11th and 12th at Brisbanes Suncorp Stadium. 14 teams will take part including “Super” Rugby Union teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There will also be a Japanese club, a French club, as well an an officially sanctioned Samoan national team.
I see this as a very smart move by Rugby Union. I think about the possibilities of an international Rugby Union 10’s circuit played by specialist 10’s players who can forge a career in the short form of the game while providing incredible opportunities to expand the entire sport of Rugby Union. I see an easy gateway to expand the international game, a slightly easier, less demanding form of Rugby Union that is far more forgiving than test match football…
Rugby Union officials saw the opportunities that exist in a competition like this. They saw what Rugby League was doing and jumped right in when the same offer was given to them. They opened the competition up, and in its first season they will reach more countries and gain more international interest than the Rugby League 9’s could ever dream of.
Everyone involved in the Brisbane Global 10’s should thank NRL club administrators for their foresight, their vision, and their ability to look for ways to shut down a fantastic opportunity for Rugby League to expand its horizons. Rugby League administrators have been the best thing that ever happened to Rugby League, and that is a tradition that stretches right back to 1895.
Who cares about all of that though. NRL clubs certainly don’t….