"I believe it's all about community spirit ... not individual spirit?. In a time where Rugby League is on the verge of hitting a golden era, something the sport has not enjoyed for a long time, the statement by Bulldogs CEO, Steve Mortimer, for the need for community spirit between the clubs has never been so evident.
There has been a saying by many Rugby League fans for many years that ?No matter what other sports do to us, they cannot hurt us, we only hurt ourselves?, and whilst we may like to think that is not true, you only have to look the article in today?s Daily Telegraph about the rumoured Legal action, a top NRL club is threatening to take against the governing body for their own self interest.
The salary cap, whilst not the best system in the world, was a key component to the 2003 Telstra Premiership being such an entertaining competition, and why 2004 is looking at being an even more exciting year. It has given teams an even playing field and has actually seen the code?s revenue streams catch up to its expenditure which jumped five years ahead of where it should have been in the Super League war.
The sport has stabilised and it is beginning to move forward, and whilst there is the hiccup of the potential impact of the new poker machine taxes on the sport, it will possibly only take the NRL sides a year or two before they find new methods of funding to cover that gap. Once the sides are in a comfortable position, than together the NRL can raise the salary cap.
At the moment, if the Salary Cap was going to jump all of a sudden, you would find that we would have an English Rugby Super League situation, where the competition has the same teams dominating the finals simply cause they have the money. These would be, Sydney Roosters, Brisbane Broncos, NZ Warriors, Canterbury Bulldogs, Penrith Panthers and maybe Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys. The other clubs would just fill up the other spots, and as a result the competition would turn quite stale.
An even worse situation that could result, is the cap being abolished all together?the thought of that would be quite scary, as then the number of clubs which could pull together a competitive side would shrink again. The English Rugby League suffered severely when Wigan dominated for over a decade winning whatever piece of silverwear on offer, if one club in the NRL did that.
Our sport needs the opportunity where a club can come from last to first in a few seasons, of course it is usually a long time between moments when this actually happens, but at least every fan knows that if they just get their combination right, it could very well be their year.
Clubs should not be allowed to dominate forever, as much as we the fans wish the club we supported did, and any club who wants the salary cap increased should remember the moments in time when they were a weaker side and had to poach from other clubs to get into the position they are in now, an option that may not of been open if the likes of Parramatta, Brisbane, Newcastle or Canberra had been able to hold onto all their stars.
Its time for clubs to co-operate and realise they are all part of a community, and if one damages that community, they not only hurt the others, but eventually will hurt themselves. Clubs need opposition, not only to have someone to play against, but also to have fans to follow those clubs to their grounds, to turn on the television sets and watch the games, and also to keep the rivalry going that all sports need, added to that finally, if the AFL clubs can do it, surely we can!