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.


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