Are you a Rugby League fan, or are you just a fan of your club? Do you want to see the best talent in the world on show every weekend in the NRL, or do you only care that your team wins and very little else matters to you?
Personally, I’m a Rugby League fan above all else. I want to see the best Rugby League show on offer and if my club is involved in that, that is just a bonus. I want to see the best talent in the world playing in the NRL. I want every club to be strong, to be developing its own talent, but I also want every club to be able to attract talent from outside of the normal NRL player development pathways as well.
Simply put, when I throw an NRL game on my TV, no matter what teams are involved, I want to be entertained.
The National Rugby League is in the entertainment business. When you look at its revenue streams, it is hard to deny that the NRL’s success, on and off the field, is directly linked to the competitions ability to draw attention from the general public. The NRL isn’t alone here, that is what every sport in the world is aiming for.
If you consider that the NRL has a responsibility to the overall game of Rugby League to make sure that its shopfront, the NRL competition, is the most exciting sporting competition in the world, doesn’t the NRL have an obligation to make sure that the most talented “Rugby” players in the world all want to come and play in the NRL?
As a business that is very much about entertaining the masses, doesn’t the NRL have an obligation to make sure the masses are as entertained as they can possibly be?
As a Rugby League supporter, I have no issues at all with the NRL stepping in and making it as easy as possible for the best “Rugby” talent in the world to either stay in the NRL, or come and play in the NRL. As long as the process is fair, and every club benefits directly (By being able to recruit players) and indirectly (Via revenue sharing from broadcasting and sponsorship deals), then I have no problem with the NRL making sure deals get over the line and the NRL competition is the best “Rugby” competition in the world, which it clearly is by quite a long way.
A lot of people don’t like that idea. A lot of people just care about what is happening at their own club, and that is fine. It takes all sorts of support to make up the greater NRL supporter base, and as long as you are not one of those over the top, violent ratbag supporters, I love every single one of you.
I do however wonder how these supporters would feel if a player was being recruited by the NRL to join the club they support. I am guessing that in that case, they wouldn’t have any problem with it.
Some people point the parachuting of talent into the NRL as putting the system out of balance. We have a salary cap in place to make sure we have an event competition (It is actually there to stop clubs spending beyond their means) and that system should not be tampered with.
I would counter that argument by pointing out that the NRL is one of the most event competitions in the world. That we have seen a number of clubs finish near the bottom of the ladder one year, only to pull themselves together and either win the competition a few years later or go very close.
We do have some clubs in the competition who are doing very poorly, but I contend that that phenomenon has less to do with talent equalization and more to do with clubs being very poorly run by administrators who are completely out of their depth and terrible at their jobs.
My main concern with the NRL helping along deals to bring talent into the competition is that our current, “home grown” stars are not left out and that the Jonathan Thurstons, Greg Inglis’, Cameron Smiths and Roger Tuivasa-Shecks of this world are the biggest earners in the game they grew up playing and stuck by throughout their careers.
As long as our current players remain the NRL’s highest earners, and their value is always rewarded, I have no problems with the NRL making sure that the NRL competition becomes the most attractive place for the worlds best “Rugby” talent to apply their trade.