Starting Over Again–The Independent Commission

By Daniel Andruczyk

So it has finally happened, the long awaited has arrived and hails to be a new dawn for the sport in Australia. Finally there is one governing body that “apparently” overseas all aspects of the sport in Australia. I say apparently since there are a couple areas seem to still be neglected by this commission, well it has been neglected by the media in their description of what the commission will be doing. Now don’t get me wrong I think its about time that in 104 years of the sport in Australia that we finally have this, however  we need to make sure that it does what it is intended for.

What About The Rest

So one of the big things that worries me is that all the other State competitions seem to have been left by the way side. No where have I seen any journalist ask about the Victorian , Tasmanian, South Australian, West Australian and Northern Territory Rugby League. Its all been focused on the New South Wales, Queensland and Country Rugby Leagues. What will happen to the competition structures in those states, will there still be an Australian Affiliated States team, will there be a greater integration of all the competition into a truly nation wide second tier level competition?

The NRL is looking to expand, which if there is any sense in the NRL and the new ARLC will see a Perth team come into the fold, but at the same time there needs to be a good secondary competition where new players can come through the ranks. Right now the NRL is dominated by NSW and QLD players, even after over 10 years in the NRL the Storm have not brought through any Victorian players, simply because there is no decent second tier comp for local players to nurture their skills and come through the ranks.

So it will be interesting to see how truly national the ARLC will be and will look after the game in Australia.

International Rugby League

The attitude of the ARLC towards International Rugby League will be interesting. A big deal is being made that it will be taking on the AFL in Sydney and already we are seeing the first steps into this. the ARLC Chairman John Grand has already said that AFL will struggle to take turf away in the first salvo. The other question is what will the attitude of the ARLC be towards International football. In a story for the Sydney Morning Herald, Brad Walter asked about what the ARLC will be doing for the game and talked with Michael Searl, who was a driver behind the ARLC. Below is an extract:

As the code’s single controlling body, the commission will be responsible for fostering, developing and funding the game from junior level to international football. Some of those responsibilities will be delegated to state bodies and ARL Development but the commission will liaise with the Rugby League International Federation and governing bodies in other countries to grow and promote the game around the world. ”Under this structure we have independent people deciding the future of the game, for the whole game – from the under eights, who play on the Gold Coast, to international rugby league,” Searle said.

Though its not the ARLC business to run international Rugby League and the sport in other countries the above comments certainly sound encouraging, the best way to combat the encroachment of the AFL and other football codes is to have a strong international presence by making sure that international games and competition for all countries are treated in a uniform fashion. By this I mean that Australia should be playing PNG and Fiji and France and other nations in full proper internationals in proper competitions. As well they need to make sure that the clubs and the RLPA do not bully the RLIF into doing what they want, the RLIF needs to govern the sport not the NRL clubs. The ARLC in Australia needs to do 3 things to fix the perception of International Rugby League in Australia  and be able to combat any perceived threat from other sports:

  1. Recognise that the RLIF is the governing bod, work towards having a professional and independent RLIF
  2. Make sure that the NRL does not go it alone on rules, that it all goes through the
  3. Make sure that all players are allowed to play internationals when required
  4. Bring in rewards for players that represent all nations, not just Australia and State of Origin.

If these four points are taken care of then I can see the standing of international Rugby League improving and it will be another tool the ARLC and the sport in general in Australia is able to use to bring in more juniors, players, get better TV contracts, sponsorship and also combat any other sporting threats.


Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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51 Responses to “Starting Over Again–The Independent Commission”

  1. Chris Sanders says:

    Yeah right!Nothing will change and the International Game will only get weaker!The NRL Clubs will just have too much power and be able to dictate more!
    That’s what going to happen!

    • druzik says:

      One hopes not … but certainly that can be case. I remember an interview with Shane Richardson last year where he effectively was saying what you say, that he want the Clubs to be able to bully the RLIF into doing what they want.

      • Chris Sanders says:

        Well!You answered your own question Daniel and perhaps you are right that Australia will eventually break away and form their own game of Rugby League Rules where they will be in competition with the ARL!
        Maybe you will be proved right in the final analysis,but the only good thing that has come out of all of this,is that Johnny Grant is now involved in the Game in Australia,which is one big positive!
        At least he has people skills as Gallop and Carr clearly haven’t!!
        And in reguards to Shane Richardson,I am surprised that he said that and I don’t doubt it for one moment,but he did release players when England played France for a mid-season Test in June 2010,but didn’t release any for a nonsense Exiles game last year and why should he?
        It was a nothin game!

  2. Greg Cross says:

    John Grant actually played for Australia in a World Cup game so I think he might support the RLIF.The International game is a way to increase revenue.If we develop Rugby league who knows how many good players we could produce in the states and the Pacific Rim.The RlIF has only had 5 million to work with foe 5 years and will be back to nothing if the World Cup in England doesn’t make money.The Rugby Union has one billion dollars in it’s International fund.The commission needs to set aside money for the RLIF and overule the clubs when it comes to international scheduling.

  3. Bob says:

    The only sure thing that will stay the same is this idiot called Chris and his negative attitude on topics he is mostly ignorant in.

  4. Chris Sanders says:

    Is that right Bob!Remember,John Grant is one of 12 on this commission and it’s a democracy and he can’t make decisions entirely on his own.
    Have you ever work in the administration of our game?

  5. dragons4eva says:

    The comments of the IC and John Grand has surprised me a little. Noting that International agendas can be undertaken makes me optimistic…but only a little. I just hope with level headed people with no political agendas tied to running the game will help not only the game in Australia but do the right thing internationally as well!

  6. Chris Sanders says:

    And Greg!Most of that money that the Rugby Union has got,goes to prop up professional clubs in England,Wales,Scotland,Ireland,France and Italy and it will also go to prop up Argentina in the 4 Nations this year and every year after!
    The only countries that count in Rugby Union are the 6 Nations and of course Australia,NZ,South Africa and Argentina.
    The Ivory Coast may get a scrum machine out of the $200 million profits from the 2011 RUWC!
    And the Poms heads are on the block if they don’t deliver in 2013 and there better not be any excuses like there were in 2000!

    • Rick Farr says:

      Complete load of Bollocks again from you Chris, the IRB is a full IFRS reporting and disclosure entity and their financial reports are readily available to the public-links are posted on the IRB website.

      The IRB does not fund any professional clubs, and they focus their investment into developing markets.

      An excerpt to help clarify how the IRB invests it’s retained earnings from the RWC:

      Development highlights in 2009 included the funding of a High Performance centre in Samoa following the recent tsunami; a new artificial pitch surface in Tbilisi in Georgia, continued High Performance funding in Argentina and the establishment of a Major Markets fund to invest specifically in Brazil, Russia, India, China and Mexico.

      The IRB also continued to invest in the now established and successful tournaments including the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup, ANZ Pacific Nations Cup, Americas Rugby Championship, IRB Nations Cup and the record-breaking IRB Sevens World Series.

      In overall terms, the IRB anticipates total investment on Strategic Initiatives, Union grants, tournament grants, training, education and administration of the Game of approximately £150m during the period 2009-2012 inclusive. This is in addition to the previous cycle of strategic investment totalling £30 million aimed specifically at increasing global playing standards.

      No doubt you will post some immature reply, I won’t bother reading it Chris.

      • druzik says:

        Once again a fascinating insight.

        I will be the first to say I am not a Union fan at all, as the sport does not appeal to me… however I will also be the first to say that the IRB knows how to run a tight ship and has some great initiatives in place fro the growth of their sport.

        League could learn a lot from them. In 16 years or so, they have managed to surpass League administratively in every way.

      • Rick Farr says:

        I just want to add a reply to your post Dru, the contrast in business and administrative models between the two codes highlights the respective codes strengths and weaknesses.

        The IRB may have some competitive advantages over the RLIF, but it does suffer from bureaucracy which can stifle progress and innovation.

        The true power in Rugby League has been the NRL (now IC) and the ESL, which have proven to be more adaptive and innovative than their RU counterparts by virtue of their governance models.

        Although the issue of uniform playing regulations between hemispheres may result, RL (the NRL in particular) does have some advantage in it’s ability to introduce new laws and innovations, many of which the IRB look closely at and appropriate (the latest being RUs introduction of RLs in-game report system).

        I think both codes have a lot to learn from and offer each other. I like to envision greater co-operation between the two codes (I know, it’s unrealistic), imagine being able to combine their respective strengths and at the same time lessen their weaknesses.

      • druzik says:

        Those are good points, but the issue with the NRL is that its introducing these changes without the consent of any other nations.

        In essence the NRL is becoming a sport onto their own, and if things don;t change withing 10 years the NRL will not be a Rugby League competition but a completely new sport – Australian Rugby Rules – and will become something like NFL in many ways.

        Don’t misunderstand me, the issue for me is not the rules changes… a sport need to evolve … the issue for me is that it is not implemented across the board with the consultation and consent of all countries involved in the sport. Even the super league do not have all the same rules as the NRL, and France and other nations definitely do not.

        Rugby League does not have consistency, where as Union does, even if it is bureaucratic.

    • Rick Farr says:

      It’s actually quite interesting that both codes have a north/south divide, the difference being the IRB holds control in RU whilst the NRL tends to lead the way in RL. As you say, in RU this maintains consistency of rules and policy but at the cost of having far cumbersome decision making processes.

      The NRL has a strong influence on how RU is played and refereed in Australasia, particularly in Australia where the ARU has to respond as a market follower to the NRL.

      Therefore the NRL indirectly contributes to the Nth/Sth divide in RU as ARU and NZRU administrators struggle against the home nations to produce a game that competes with the NRL in the Australasian sports market.

  7. Marv says:


    Your such a tit chris.

  8. Robbo says:

    I am truly excited about the formation of the IC, we have a genuine oppurtunity to run the game efficiently and prosperously. With 8 commissioners who bring together a collective of sound business acumen, corporate expertise and a RL intellect, I am sure they can deliver.

    Let’s face it, anything is better than the previous attitudes towards the International game by the ARL & NRL heirachy.

  9. Chris Sanders says:

    Well be soon see Marv.With Gallop and Carr still there will things improve!And who’s running the game in Australia?Gallop,Carr or Johnny Grant?I am for one confused!As far as I’m concerned,the NRL has ceased to exist and it’s now ARLC.
    It’s no longer the case of the tail(NRL)wagging the dog(ARL)anymore as we have,had a gutsful of that scenario since 1998 and we have got change now,but how do we know if it’s the right change!
    Only time will tell and I think the Clubs will only get stronger and the International Game will get a lot weaker.
    You still got a lot of people in the corridors of power with plenty of baggage!!

    • druzik says:

      John Grant now heads the sport in Australia. There is a heirachy now with the ARLC which overseas the NRL, NSWRL, QRL and other state competitions. The CRL now falls under the auspices of the NSWRL.

      The way I understand the structure to be now is something like this; The ARLC overseas the NRL which is mainly fed through the NSWRL and QRL. It should also oversea the other state comps which either feed into the AAS and then into ethe grassroots at the NSWRL and QRL level or directly into the NRL itself. I am hoping that this at least would be what the state comps will be getting.

  10. roml357 says:

    I agree Robbo, even if the ARLC do a crap job it still has to be better than all the beurocrats we have had for the last 104 years.

  11. Mark from Denmark says:

    So, illogical management practices don’t just happen in the northern hemisphere. Just to give you guys down under a little comfort; we are coping with the same kinds of issues. However, it is now possible the the lead set by Union in the previous 5 years might be too far for League to pull back if we don’t wake up and start pulling in the same direction. I would, if possible, share the political power on an equal basis at each level of the game, i.e. each stake-holder having an equal voice, regardless of size; one nation, one vote, one state, one vote, one club, one vote. The NRL and ESL have too much power and only care about the TV money.

    • druzik says:

      G’day Mark, good to hear from you. Could you elaborate on the illogical management?

      • Mark from Denmark says:

        Just as a very limited example: How can any organisation claim to be inclusive if they haven’t set up procedures to take account of future expansion in all possible geogaphical regions (local, state, national and international)? You need to be proactive with plans and activities if the organisations are truely inclusive. I don’t think this forum is the correct place for a comprehensive, global management plan – but, unfortunately, I cannot see any other.

      • druzik says:

        I was under the impression that the regional tournaments will feed into the bowl in 2013 that will feed into the 2014-15 Euro shield which will feed into the 2016 European Cup which will fed into the World Cup?

        Is this not the structure? as it is I am not sure I would agree with it, I have in mind something completely different however.

      • Mark from Denmark says:

        Try getting that on paper! The lack of money is causing havoc with both the Bowl and the Shield this year – do you think it will be better next year?

      • druzik says:

        Well, one hopes that they will get more sponsors for next year … the idea of growing the sport and having good admins means that you should have someone that is trying to get money in. In reality that is the role of the head administrator.

  12. Cheyne Maher says:

    Very good to see the IC up and running. Time will tell if it helps the game fully reach its potential, but i think overall to have some of the business minded people involved as an integral part of our game is only a good thing.

    Good point Dan re: the AAS, hopefully this is something we can hear from soon. It is obviously important that they are not left out of the loop.

    In regards to RLIF funding, no doubt the 2013 WC should lead to an increase in profit from 2008. The RFL have done a very, very good job in terms of the bidding process etc that went into place with venues. Although not everyone will agree on the locations etc – noone ever will – the publicity from the process was unheard of so far out from the actual WC for RL. I think it will be a massive success and lead to further improvements in our game.

    • druzik says:

      Well one hopes that there will be profits … but in your comment right there Cheyne … it underlines the problem that Rugby League has… and that is we rely purely on the WC profits to fund our game…. that is wrong. We need to make sure that every tournament is making money for us.

      • Cheyne Maher says:

        I agree 100% mate, we need regular revenue raising tournaments that are exciting, viable and encourage the development for all nations. As you have pointed out many a time, the inclusion of the big three in regional tournaments is crucial to lifting Pacific/Euro cups to such a level where they are attractive to broadcasters, sponsors etc and therefore become more financially stable. We obviously need a genuine six to seven week window at the end of EVERY season to acheive this – hopefully with the IC in place the likes of Aus and NZ come to the party in this regard.

      • druzik says:

        International Rugby League is a no-brainer on how to run it if you sit down and think about it. But greed in the NRL is basically getting in the way of things … and that greed is not just restricted to the admins and clubs, but the media and fans as well.

  13. Chris Sanders says:

    Australian Rugby League is as complicated as American politics which is still all corrupt and rotten to the core!
    This comission is a whitewash and it’s still the NRL and the NSWRL undermining everything!
    As sure as eggs and a big welcome for Mark from Denmark?
    Want a job on the RLIF Mark???

  14. Chris Sanders says:

    And how do we know that the 2013 RLWC is going to make a bigger profit than the last one Cheyne Maher??Are the British Government going to subsidise the whole Tournament just like the Queensland State Government did in 2008 ensuring a good profit??
    There are no guarantees and I don’t think it will!
    If not the whole RLIF must go!!

  15. Mark from Denmark says:

    I have no knowledge of the past or current personalities involved in managing southern hemisphere RL, so I have no personal axe to swing. However, it appears to me that there are real issues to address, especially with regard to geographical representation. This, unfortunately, is replicated on a global scale; why should one region or nation have a greater say in the administation of the game than any other?

    • druzik says:

      You are right, no one country should be above all others, but with the way Australia runs things and has muscled it way onto the RLIF its unfortunate that this is what has happened.

      My biggest issue is that the people in power at the RLIF are the ones that are in Power at the national level for Australia, UK and New Zealand. Basically there is a conflict of interest in my eyes.

      • Mark from Denmark says:

        I agree with you. In principle, the RLIF should be the controlling body, and be independent of any national or regional body’s influence – with each of 6-10 regional bodies (based on continents and number of nations within the regions – Europe being into 2 or 3 regions) having a single representative on the RLIF, and each nation having a single representative on the regional bodies. It is also imprtant to have truely independent and business-experienced directors on each level of administration. Not until you have 12-16 equally competitive international teams will you have a world cup worthy of being called as such, and not until you have a ‘worthy’ world cup will the game start to spread globally. Basically, the big 3 will have let go of their power and spread the talent if the game is to survive in the long term.

      • druzik says:

        I have been saying this since 2006.

  16. juro says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens to Super League if the NRL gets its act together.

    What happens if the NRL salary cap increases 50%? What happens if the NRL expands to 18 or 20 teams? You end up with the supply and demand for players totally shifting.

    There could be an outflow of talent from SL to NRL. This may keep more players in rugby league rather than transferring to rugby union. More overseas players may get a chance to play in the NRL, further improving their skills. Would the English national team actually benefit, or would Australia further strengthen their domination?

    And what happens if the SL’s quality falls due to the talent drain to the NRL? This may have an impact on crowds and the viability of the competition.

    • druzik says:

      Mmmm … that certainly is one possibility, but I think, at least in the short to medium term what will happen with the two or even four extra teams is that you will have 50-100 extra sports for players. Many of the ex-pats will come back from Europe to Australia.

      In the long term, yes we may start to see a shift of players coming from Europe, certainly Britain, Ireland and France to start with. Super League has to start investing in their future now, so that if players to go to Australia then they have youngsters with talent that can come through and keep the standards up. This argument certainly can be applied to the NRL at the moment with so many players deciding to move to England, why hasn’t the NRL quality gone down with us losing players to the ESL and to Union??? Its because the clubs and teams have kept their academies and feeder clubs going that can nurture and bring through new players and talent.

      Now the Salary cap, may not necessarily increase, not by 50% anyway. Yes, clubs will get more money from the grant however I think they will use that to pay off debts and stay a float. There actually has been no reason as why the cap could not increase in the last few years, excepts for the fact clubs would go broke.

      That’s the way I see things anyway.

      • Mark from Denmark says:

        The above issues are now further complicated by the NRL and ESL considering an expansion to the World Club Challenage competition. Now, guess where the limited TV money will go and where (whom) it will be taken from?

      • druzik says:

        Mark, do you really think that it will expand … its all well and good, but this idea has been floated around for years and nothings happened.

        In essence the NRL wont be interested to expand it since it puts too many of their teams and players at risk of burnout and injury and also clubs just don’t have that kind of cash to travel in Australia.

        Plus it will render trials pretty much useless.

      • Mark from Denmark says:

        Do I personally think the expansion will happen – no. The other, non-qualifying, clubs will not let this happens. It is against their personal (financial) interests.

      • druzik says:

        In Australia, certainly that will be the case.

  17. Head Boy says:

    Gentleman, I want to thank you for all these issues raised here. You guys are a mirror for us – on how to plot our way forward – we will be developing the game of rugby league under one of the new seven wonders of the world Cape Town

  18. Head Boy says:

    that will be table mountain in Cape Town

  19. Chris Sanders says:

    Good on ya Head Boy!

  20. Chris Sanders says:

    Rick Farr!So how much monies does the IRB give Ivory Coast rugby union?A scrum machine and how much money did the 2011 RWC make for the New Zealand Rugby Union?
    And tell me where all the profits(2 million pounds) from the 2000 RLWC went to?Didn’t it go to prop up SL and that’s the big problem because the International Game was ripped off!
    The RFL made a record 8.7 million pound profit last year which all went back to prop up SL again,when it should of all gone back to the grass roots as well as the RLEF(which is driven by the RFL) and not private liability companies which any SL Franchise is!Either the SL Clubs sink or swim and hopefully most will sink as they are a huge drain on resources that should be spent elsewhere.
    England RU also made a 9 million pound profit too and where did that money go to Rick Farr??

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