The Not So Independent, Independent Commission?

By Daniel Andruczyk

So you really need to have been under a rock 6 miles underground the last year to not know about the “Independent Commission” that is supposedly being set up in Australia to control the game. I say supposedly because the last few weeks I have been thinking about it, reading the various articles that are coming out etc… and well I don’t think there will be anything independent about it! In fact it will be less independent. However that is not necessarily a bad thing, you see what Australian Rugby League needs is not an Independent commission.

But first some domestic and international results that have come through the week.


Round 3 results from Lebanon came in late in the week once again, I think we will have the Lebanese results one week behind just with the way things are updated with them. So round three saw USJ go down in a tight affair to AUB, Balamand beat out the Wolves, who despite coming last are showing signs of improvement, remember they are still the new kids on the block. The AUST / LAU game has been postponed, no mention as to why and Jounieh had the bye this round. The table stands as:

Team P W D L B PD Pt
1 LAU 2 2 0 1 0 66 4
2 USJ 3 2 0 1 0 40 4
3 Balamand 3 2 0 1 0 26 4
4 AUB 3 2 0 0 1 16 4
5 AUST 2 0 0 1 1 -24 0
6 Jounieh 3 0 0 2 1 -46 0
7 Wolves 3 0 0 3 0 -78 0

Serbian University Championships

So not so much results from Serbia, but news that Round 5 of the University Championships has been postponed till next year due to bad weather, I am assuming snow, as Europe, like the Northern USA here has been hit with a particularly cold cold-snap. So yes, the last round will be played next year and also the play offs will take place next year as with any catch up games. So the Table there currently stands as:

Team P W D L B PD Pt
1 Philosophy 2 2 0 0 0 70 4
2 Organisational 4 1 1 1 1 -2 3
3 Military 3 1 0 1 1 18 2
4 Transport 4 1 0 2 1 -78 2
5 Political 3 0 1 1 1 -8 1

Schoolboy and Student Internationals

On the back of last weeks thrilling win over the Aussie Schoolboys, the English Schoolboys cam up against them once again in Castleford Friday night. In another tight affair the English lads were able to come away with another win, beating the Australian’s 34-22 and taking the series 2-0. On Wednesday night the Great Britain and Australian Universities match had to be moved to Leigh due to adverse weather. In what was a high scoring game the Australians were able to come away with a win beating the Lions 40-30.

Will Australian Rugby League Really be Better Off?

Ok So after getting through all that hopefully I still have you reading and asking what I meant by my opening comments? So what got me thinking about this in the first place. Well to start with, is this thing going to get off the ground anyway. We have been hearing that we’ll have it by last March, then by last November, now it was meant to be done a week ago and still nothing. It seems the stiffest opposition is coming from the Queensland Rugby League, that they are essentially worried they wont have enough representation in the new commission to have their views worried about. Which led me to start thinking, If its an “independent” commission then shouldn’t there be no representation of any of the states there? The very term Independent Commission means that there is a bunch of guys running the place that has no influence from any outside sources. If the QRL is worries about being under=represented with respect to the NSWRL then that mean there is not any independence there?

Also if we start to look at the people that are being tipped to in this new commission, well we actually don’t know who it will be, only some candidates have been thrown around, Allan Jones, John Quayle being a couple names thrown in. But seriously, you call them independent? Um aren’t they like life members of certain NRL clubs and give donations? Jones used to Coach Balmain and still has associations with the Tigers. Nothing wrong with them wanting to be part of the clubs, but it still it is a conflict of interest for an independent commission. However the biggest steak holders, the parties that have the greatest say in all this and are the ones that have pushed for it are the NRL clubs themselves! Wasn’t that the whole push two years ago, that the NRL clubs wanted to have a say in how the money that came into the game was distributed? Now correct me if I am wrong, just that alone renders the whole “commission” not independent.

And why the hell is it called a commission?

So as far as I am concerned this will not be an independent commission. But then again this is not a bad thing, for the simple reasons that I stated above, we have people that have a vested interest in seeing the money and resources spread about. So all the points above that I consider bad as for independence are actually good for an Australian governing body. So this is what I actually think the ARL is really looking for in all od this. What they want is not an ins=dependent commission but a UNIFIED FEDERTATION! You want one governing body, The Australian Rugby League Federation (ARLF), lets call it for this purpose, to be in charge of the sport as a whole. This mean it controls the TV and advertising right to all the domestic competitions in Australia – Queensland, New South Wales, Country NSW, the NRL, Victorian, South Australian, Western Australian, Tasmanian and Northern Territory Rugby Leagues as well.

Which bring me to me next point, has anyone noticed how the rest of Australia’s Rugby League bodies have been left out of this whole process. Its all about the QRL, NSWRL, CRL and NRL. No mention on what effect or votes the Victorians, Tasmanians, Territorians and West and South Australians will have from all this. In reality if this whole thing goes the way I think it will it will be not an NRL but an EARL (Eastern Australian Rugby league)! Alllll the detractors from allllll the other sports and organisations and journalists looking to stick another pin in the Rugby League Voodoo Doll will have a field day with this.

How could this conclude?

Now where do I think this will go? The Worst case scenario, that I can see,  is this. That’s there will be another schism in the sport within 10 years. This time in Australia, one where the control of just the NRL clubs and the changes they put on the “NRL” will change the sport so much that the QRL, NSWRL, VRL, SARL, TasRL, NTRL and WRL will all break away, create a totally separate ARLF, one where all the states have a more equal say on things. There will be a truly national sport compared to what the “NRL” will be. The NRL will become another type of AFL, only played in one country, and in one area of that country. It may get big crowds, but the new Rugby League federation will have a more even playing field internationally, it will then give the opportunity for the NZRL and other nations to start with a clean slate where they can compete on a more even playing field, where tournaments will dictate the best teams in the world, not who has the most money and thus can bribe players into pledging allegiances to them.

Right now, despite the popularity and potentially $1 billion TV contract coming up in 2012, Rugby League in Australia is balancing on the tip of a picketed fence. Which side will it land on remains to be seen… or will it slip and impale itself?

Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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