Who Has The Confidence And Vision To Lead This Game?

Australian Rugby League

The other day I sat down to watch a press conference in Brazil where the UFC were promotion their first big event in the biggest country in South America. UFC President Dana White said that it had been a long time coming, and would mark the start of regular events in Brazil, which provides some of the best MMA fighters and trainer in the world.

The UFC story is an interesting one.

The company was struggling and basically broke when Dana White, convinced a couple of investors to take a chance on the dying company. White has been the driving force for not only the UFC, but MMA in general ever since.

He took what was a little known “cage fighting” competition and turning it into an international sporting success story. He has just about created an industry!

Looking at the drive Dana White had, and his vision for the UFC, I wonder where is the driving force in Rugby League.

Is there anyone who is in charge who has a grand vision for our sport?

Just on his job description alone, it can’t be David Gallop. His job is to be an administrator in its purest form. He has always answered to News Limited and the ARL and will soon answer to the Independent Commission.

Gallop and the NRL do a lot of things that really, the ARL, NSWRL and QRL should have been doing. In reality thought, David Gallop is there to run the 16 team National Rugby League competition. His job isn’t to drive the game forward.

So do we then turn to the Independent Commission and its chairman John Grant? Is it really his role to have the vision and drive the sport?

Considering the highly political process that the game went through to get an Independent Commission, it seems pretty logical that the result of that process will lead to a commission that doesn’t want to rock the boat and cause too many issues with the wrong people. Hell, that’s why this lot got the jobs that they did!

Does that mean the driving force for the game of Rugby League maybe doesn’t rest on the shoulders of one man, but the entire Independent Commission? That just makes me think about the saying, if you asked a committee to design a horse you’d end up with a camel…

NRL club CEO’s will tell you that they have all the ideas and it is their job to have the vision for the game. This of course is complete and utter rubbish.

Do you think the Roosters are thinking about discounts for local juniors? Do you think the Broncos or Panthers are thinking about a draft? Do you think any of the clubs are thinking about international football? Do you think the clubs, who are all shareholders in the new administration of the game, or thinking about how they can add other clubs, new shareholders and how they can dilute their own stake in the Rugby League industry?

At some point you need to have someone with a vision of where they want they game to be in 10, 20 hell even 50 years from now. You want someone who can walk into the room and say “I run Rugby League in Australia, I’m the person you speak need to speak too”.

You want someone who is willing to say “Everyone says we need to have a national competition, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that happens on my watch”. You want someone who can call a club who is unable to make the right decisions in regards to player behavior, and who will make that decision for them.

You want someone who, when asked about the next broadcasting deal, will confidently tell anyone that wants to hear that we have the highest rating sport in Australia. We have the best television sport in the world. On top of that, we have a sport that have a young fan base, one that sponsors crave. You either want to be part of the juggernaut that is Rugby League, or you can go off and talk to your share holders about how you decided to spend money on a different sport and how many millions of dollars per year you are losing on that mistake.

We don’t have anyone like that leading the game of Rugby League in Australia.

For all the grass roots stuff, the different programs and the setting up of structures that needs to happen, that is what the NRL’s job will soon become. What this game needs though is a real leader, someone who will drive this game forward.

The thing that worries me is….I don’t see anyone on the horizon that fits that description.

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