The Rugby World Cup has provided the ultimate wake up call to the NRL and Rugby League in general. Either the powers that be look to counter the effects the exposure the Rugby World Cup has generated upon the sport or they can sit back, do nothing, and take the head in the sand approach and hope it all goes away. Here?s a tip gents, they are here to stay and they have very deep pockets. A cashed up John O?Neill will be out looking for some more league players to undermine our game and chances are he?ll get them when you hear the league players are feeling a little envious or jealous about the exposure the rival codes is producing.
If I were one of Rugby League?s leading administrators I would have had many sleepless nights in the past six weeks. The Australian Rugby Union and International Rugby Board have managed to successfully promote apart from one game, an otherwise dull tournament into a raging success, yet the NRL, who have arguably one of the best sporting competitions on the planet, can still only manage under15,000 people every game. When you look at it in that context, heads should roll at Bent Street.
Everywhere you go, people are wearing Wallabies jerseys and it?s not just the men, it?s the women and children and the Wallabies are now the in thing, they are fashionable and it?s who people want to be seen talking about. The winning of hearts and minds has been successful and the propaganda machine has been working overtime. Here?s what I think a possible long-term effect of the Rugby World Cup could be. Young kids who are experiencing the hype and hysteria created by the Rugby World Cup will have to make a choice in the years to come about which sport they want to play and there?s no prizes for guessing who will win that battle. That may be viewed as some as a pin prick for league but it would be a pin prick straight through our collective heart. How can we counter this?
David Gallop, I would be getting out the cheque book and waiting outside Telstra Stadium tonight to sign the Australian Rugby Union?s top marketing men in a bid to raise the profile of the greatest game of all. Give them a blank cheque if you have to but if you fail to act, well, the results will be obvious for all to see.
As an avid league fan I can?t help but feel the game in Australia and Great Britain is being marginalized by inept club administrators who put their selfish needs before the good of the game. When the chief executives of the fifteen NRL clubs meet in the next week, the promotion of the game needs to be high on the agenda but the squabbling and continual in-fighting we have seen ever since the NRL came together in 1998 does not leave me with any confidence whatsoever. Sure we have a great anthem but that?s all we have. The level of advertising and money poured into marketing would be minimal at best. Take a leaf out of Rugby?s successful marketing playbook, observe what they do well and emulate it. Simple as that.
Then there is the poor state of the international game and the continual howls from the players to shorten the domestic season in a bid to revive internationals but it?s not just the fault of the NRL, Great Britain have a lot to answer for when you consider their meek surrender last weekend when they were leading 20-8 at one stage. David Waite managed to successfully transplant his losing culture from St George Illawarra to Great Britain and he should never been seen again coaching a national side. Great Britain need to find a coach with a winning attitude. A Ricky Stuart, Chris Anderson or Wayne Bennett would make a massive impact overnight as they do not stand for mediocrity and never make excuses for poor performances. New Zealand are on the right track with Daniel Anderson. He is a determined coach who demands success and he got it with a rousing win over Australia a month ago. Sure people will say Australia were under strength but you can only beat who is in front of you. The demise of the All Black will play right into the hands of the Kiwi?s but this is one of the only bright spots on an otherwise bleak future for the game.
Call me a pessimist but when I hear players like Craig wing and Darren Lockyer saying they are a bit jealous and envious of the position the Wallabies are in, then the writing is on the wall and give John O?Neill a sniff and he?ll be in for the kill.
The NRL needs to form some type of fighting fund to keep the best players in the game and also look at poaching some of Rugby?s rising stars in a bid to undermine their efforts as they have continually done to us. I could pontificate all day about the malfeasance of the NRL and the plight facing our game leaves me perplexed but a partisan approach towards Rugby is required otherwise we will be lamenting about what might have been. The sands of time are starting to accelerate and the ball is in our court.