Did You Hear That?

By Daniel Andruczyk

… Yes! Did you hear it again… that is two loud cracks coming from somewhere over there. I have heard these before. Oh yes, there it is Rugby League has shot itself in the foot again… oh no! It did it twice!

Look the writing was on the wall for David Gallop, for many reasons. David Gallop was the leader that Rugby League in Australia needed, the 10 or so year he served he did probably the toughest sporting job in the world and somehow managed to do it without getting stuck in the loony bin. The reason why he was let go seem to be many, from everything I have read there seems to be no one consensus on the actual reason he went and weather he actually did a good or bad job while in the top job.

Its hard not to be willing to throw ones own 2c worth into the mix.

So here goes anyway. David was called a reactionary, well it hard to be anything else when something happens, we all would love to have a crystal ball to see into the future and stop disasters from happening, but then if we did that the disaster would not happen. The fact is that under Gallops rule, the game got back to a stronger fan base, financial base and tried to get back to a better moral base. Salary cap cheats were dealt harshly, as we saw with the Bulldogs, Warriors and of course the Storm. The sports biggest TV deal was signed, though at the time potentially still undervalued. Players and teams that were caught misbehaving were dealt with harshly. Even when the players and teams acted like 5 year olds throwing a hissy fit that they were treated unfairly etc… and Gallop held firm. In fact I think it showed the nature of the team how they dealt with problems and the way they interacted with the NRL. My own team, the Sharks whilst having some of the worst seasons in their existence and also having players being serial trouble makers, had to deal with this, it was tough, but because of that stance the team came out better and stronger. In an indirect way thanks to the stance that Gallop and the NRL took. All the things he did also had an influence on sport around the country. ARL and the ARU had to take a big look at themselves and their own internal dealing with the salary cap, drug cheating and behaviour problems, even though Gallops actions were reactionary, if anything they were leading any of the other sports in the way things are dealt with. So in those respects Gallops tenure was a pretty good one.

On the negative side the way I have seen it is that under his direction the sport has not grown, or grown in the wrong direction. Being the leader of the NRL and then also the deputy on the RLIF and for a long time it was him and Colin Love, the international game was swamped by State of Origin. Quite frankly State of Origin has got too big for its boots and as it is is so obese that it will soon have a cardiac arrest. We still have not seen one Victorian player come through the NRL ranks, or player from any other state. At a time when we should have been looking to help the other states out, maybe start move Origin around, he allowed the NSW and QLD components of the sport to basically hijack the game. Now you can argue that Origin is a NSW and QLD only game and should be kept that way.. OK, if you want to do that then STOP WANTING TO USE IT TO PROMOTE THE GAME! Otherwise let other states come into the SoO and compete. Really by now we should have a Victorian SoO team playing with Victorian players.  State of origin also became a bribery tool, yes I said it, its used to bribe non Australian players into playing for a SoO team and thus assigning them to the Aussie ranks. If you ever wondered why the Pacific nations don’t play more often against each other or the likes of Australia and New Zealand… just look at State of Origin. Failing on the international front also have contributed to the rise of AFL in League heartlands, internationals were the one big way to make sure that interest was in league only, he failed to do this in my opinion. This should never have happened and Gallop did allow it to happen. In my eyes for the game around the world it’s the biggest of his failings and he should never have been in the RLIF.

So the shots…

Well one is obvious, the way Gallop was executed was disgraceful. Weather you liked him or loathed him, the way he was given his marching orders was a disgrace and anyone looking from the outside is now going to be weary of how they deal with the game. Any new CEO of the game will be very weary of what they do, the best of them probably won’t touch the sport with a 40ft barge pole seeing this. Why would you go to a sport, where you reward for doing a good job is to be executed? Rugby League will suffer for this for at least the next few years.

The other is this, I can’t see the sport getting its billion dollar TV deal. I think Gallop was probably the only one who could have pulled off the deal, he had the corporate knowledge of the sport, knew it intimately, the in’s and out’s and the players, he knew how to react and answer the tough questions that any broadcasting company will ask of why they should invest in the sport. This is now gone, who ever comes in will not have the strong corporate knowledge of the game and once again the game will suffer. We will play 2nd fiddle to AFL and like NSW with QLD, the ARL will have to put up with the taunts from AFL.

Look, David was a good leader, for the sport in Australia, but really internationally he failed the sport miserably. If from speaking with acquaintances in the various international administrative arms is anything to go by, John Grant is very, very, very pro international rugby league and people are excited about this prospect. David Gallop in all his years really only the international game a passing thought, and in some cases rightly so, he was the administrator of the NRL and was paid by them, he had no business ever being on  the RLIF board as his conflict of interest was only going to hamper international rugby league development.

In my opinion, this is one of the major reasons he was let go, basically I think the ARLC is going to look at using internationals to help Rugby League along and David just has never been or seen that vision for the game. The game is at a cross roads internationally. So much development is going on in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Nth America. Indeed the split in the USA just goes to show how much is at stake in that country with Rugby League. Yes in the Pacific where Australia had the most influence where many of the games athletes come from and we should have strong Pacific team, it never happened. The players were poached, the teams neglected and the international game was given only a passing fling by the Aussies under Gallop. You speak to the players in the NRL, playing SoO is considered a bigger honour that for your country and that is just wrong.

For that single reason right there is why Gallop should have stepped down, but the way he was given his orders and the way it was released to the media was just plain wrong.

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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