Gallop exits but the challenges remain
Former chief executive of the Australian Rugby League Commission David Gallop. AAP Image/Dean Lewins
It was a little kick on the way to the exit door. Commission chairman John Grant, just hours after finalising a parting of ways with David Gallop, said rugby league was now in need of “a different style of leadership detached from the past for the next stage of its development.”
It was a fairly blunt assessment of why Gallop and the Commission could no longer work together.
It was meant to be a match made in heaven.
The two had looked longingly at each other for years from across the room.
The Australian Rugby League Commission on one side and Gallop on the other.
All of the games problems could be solved and the code could start to make ground on those uber professional people from down south.
You know the ones? The other mob who convinced Wagga Wagga City council to give them $100,000 a year for three years in return for playing pre-season games and development work.
Why? Because they asked.
But the idea of living together and the reality of actually sharing their lives differed greatly.
Gallop had been running the code his way for the past 10 years and now had a group of people overseeing his day to day decisions.
He admitted it was “always going to be difficult” to work like that.
Indeed, the marriage lasted just four months when they’d signed up for four years together.
Gallop has always been accused of being too reactionary instead of extremely proactive and he admitted that was an “easy criticism to make.” It is, but it’s a tag that has stuck.
It’s clear the new man at the helm will need to have thick skin.
For, as much as rugby league would like to be “detached from the past”, the issues that dogged Gallop’s reign won’t be unique to his time at the helm.
Headlines containing buzz words like “crisis”, “saga” and “outrage” featured prominently since he took over the top job in February, 2002.
None were of his making, but some of the responses left fans a little underwhelmed.
The new man will get a honeymoon period. It’s only right that whoever takes charge is allowed time to get accustomed to having their feet under the desk.
But sooner or later (preferably later) he’ll have to deal with the same headlines. Their response will be picked over in great detail. Measured, not only against his predecessor, but also against the expectations of supporters.
A new face won’t change what can be a rocky landscape, but after a decade that was challenging to say the least, it will be more than interesting to see where rugby league sits in another 10 years.
You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.
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