IT took 26 rounds of the premiership, four weeks of finals, and now six weeks of Tri-Nations to achieve it, but it was well worth the wait. Saturday night?s Tri-Nations final between the Kangaroos and the Kiwis may well go down as the best ever rugby league Test match played in Australia.
IN the avalanche of publicity surrounding the Ashes Test series, a court award in Sydney yesterday that has far reaching consequences for all body contact sport went almost unnoticed.
LAST night the standing of the International Rugby League Board, and the Australian Rugby League, sunk to its lowest ever level ? if it is possible to sink lower than it already was.
AS the Wallabies continue to bumble and fumble their way through Europe, it is hardly surprising there is speculation the Australian Rugby Union will again try to "raid" rugby league to boost its player ranks.It is therefore somewhat surprising that yesterday?s conference of NRL coaches and senior players (with the usual exception of Wayne Bennett) seems to have discussed just about everything except how any raid would be repelled.Two weeks ago, Daily Telegraph Union writer, Peter Jenkins, said it was "time to raid the NRL again", and the Wallabies fortunes have hardly improved since then.The 2006 "raid" hardly proved to be spectacularly successful ? Clinton Schifcofske left the Canberra Raiders to join the Queensland Reds rugby team, but he did turn 31 last week.And the Roosters' Ryan Cross switched codes to join the Western Force, but during an eight-year rugby league career he made just one representative team, the City side playing in Origin trial matches.The raid on Mark Gasnier did not succeed, nor did the earlier attempt to snare Andrew Johns.But the NRL, and its 16 clubs, should not be complacent. Rugby union is apparently not short of cash, and when you look at the Wallabies' performance this year, the ARU will be under enormous pressure to open its purse.If that does not concern the NRL then it should.Despite the new television agreement with Nine, most NRL clubs are not particularly flash financially. But a handful would be able to match a serious offer from the ARU for a top player.That is unless the NRL came to the party, as it did ? through PBL Ltd ? when Andrew Johns was being tempted to switch codes.It is a subject the NRL and the clubs seem reluctant to address, because it inevitably raises questions about the issue most don?t want to talk about ? the salary cap.The ARU surely knows that. And it is why Peter Jenkins might get his wish sooner rather than later.And it is one reason why the Gold Coast Titans' prospects ? or any other club?s prospects ? of securing a return to rugby league by Lote Tuqiri (the most successful convert in the modern era) are not much better than zero!
NOT that it needed much to do so, but the credibility of the rugby league Tri-Nations series is today on the rocks.
Firstly, the Great Britain half-back, Sean Long, flew back to the UK yesterday, and team management behaved like a Brian Burke Ministerial mate trying to explain it away.
NEWS Corp has stepped up the pressure on the Howard Government over the review of the anti-siphoning rules governing major sporting events with its stinging attack on the free-to-air broadcasters.
THE Kangaroos? Willie Mason was last night handed a one-week suspension and a $5,000 fine for his knockout punch on Great Britain?s Stuart Fielden ? but it is the administrators of the game who have ended up with the red face as a result.
THE Rugby League tri-nations competition is on the cusp of descending into a total farce on two fronts.
RUGBY league officials ? and fans ? are taking more than a passing interest in the dispute over pay television coverage of the AFL. And in the case of the fans, it's a look of envy.
THE continuing success of rugby league on television in Melbourne is embarrassing for Channel Nine ? or it ought to be.