DAVID GALLOP: This is the most significant season in NRL history

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    NRL CEO David Gallop speaks to waiting media. AAP Image/Joe Castro

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    The Roar exclusive: When Newcastle and St George Illawarra run out at Hunter Stadium tonight, they will open the curtain on perhaps the most significant season in the game’s history.

    A capacity crowd of 30,000 fans will be there in a fantastic modern stadium to witness two clubs that between them represent so much about where the game has come from and where it’s going.

    Each club is a powerful symbol in its community. Each team has its own unique character.

    Between them they feature a multi-million-dollar private owner, a first-year coach and one with an incredible history in the game. There are club legends returning home, established stars and exciting bands of rookie talent.

    Across all 16 teams right now, and among the members and fans that follow them, there is a nervous anticipation about what is to come.

    When I contacted the sixteen coaches to wish them luck in the lead up to tonight’s game, the common theme among those I spoke to was how close the competition would be and what a ride it would be to the finals.

    Fans and players alike will all go to matches believing that their team can and will win each week.

    They will all marvel at the sheer brilliance of our players and know that each game they are going to see something breathtaking on the field.

    And they all share the one dream of wanting to win the Telstra Premiership Grand Final.

    Yet, for all they have in common, the richness of the Telstra Premiership comes from the sheer diversity of where those dreams come from.

    From the heartlands of Sydney, all across Queensland, to New Zealand, Melbourne and regional and rural Australia, rugby league is a game that crosses social, cultural and economic divides and brings people together.

    It is a game where the colours that members and fans wear in support of our teams are as vibrant and varied as the people who wear them – yet all who wear them are united by their love of rugby league.

    There has been a lot of talk in recent months about the game and other codes and what the ARL Commission will bring.

    Let me be clear: we are in a competitive market and we are always mindful of our competitors.

    But one of the first things you need to do in such an environment is to fully understand your own strengths and continue to build on them.

    We need to look at what we can improve going forward but we need to understand the strength of the platform we are working from and be confident of where that places us.

    As we look across 95 matches in Sydney this year, 192 matches across the competition, and the countless spectacular individual moments those games will provide we have a stunning reminder of why so many families and children are being inspired to join our great game and to continue supporting it.

    The simple facts are that more people are playing the game than ever before, more people are watching the game than ever before, and the game they are watching is more exciting than ever before.

    Does that mean we can sit back and relax? Of course not.

    We need to ensure we continue growing the game and we need to ensure we are able to maintain our strategic direction across all facets of the game.

    That is why the ARL Commission is such a significant step in this season and I welcome Chairman John Grant and his fellow Commissioners. I look forward to the many opportunities we have ahead to continue building our game.

    The Commission isn’t here to change the world overnight.

    But change will inevitably flow from it and it will be in the form of a more co-ordinated game-wide decision-making process and already we are seeing the Commission is willing to make decisions and already they are working on building future revenue streams, particularly through our broadcasting rights.

    I remain confident rugby league will achieve a substantial lift in its television revenues and that it will have benefits for players, clubs and the wider game.

    Those benefits, however, will need to be measured to deliver the best result going forward.

    There is a lot of opportunity ahead for rugby league and there is an enormous amount to look forward to right now this season, starting tonight.

    That is why everyone who loves rugby league should go out and become a member of their team.

    It is why you should talk loudly and proudly about the game you love and the moments that capture your imagination. It is why when we look at the tens of thousands of children who play the game that we are reminded that rugby league is game about local kids becoming local and national heroes.

    It is why I look forward to seeing you at a game this year.

    In this series, John O’Neill (Australian Rugby Union), James Sutherland (Cricket Australia), David Gallop (NRL), Andrew Demetriou (AFL), and Ben Buckley (FFA) all share with The Roar their thoughts on the year that was, or will be, for their respective codes. Read the full series.

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    The Crowd Says (124)

    • March 1st 2012 @ 12:56pm
      Whites said | March 1st 2012 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

      David, can you ensure it won’t rain tonight? I don’t really want to get wet.

    • Roar Guru

      March 1st 2012 @ 1:10pm
      The Cattery said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

      What a coup for the Roar to have the country’s top sporting administrators sharing their thoughts with us.

      All the best to the NRL in season 2012.

      • Columnist

        March 1st 2012 @ 1:13pm
        Brett McKay said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

        Indeed, Catters. In fact it’s been a big couple of weeks all round, with the sudden flood of new columnists..

        • March 1st 2012 @ 1:17pm
          sheek said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          Yeah – Brett Who……….!!! (You know I’m only kidding, buddy)

          • Columnist

            March 1st 2012 @ 1:22pm
            Brett McKay said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

            After seeing the list in the rugby stable yesterday Sheek, I was asking the same question!!

            • Columnist

              March 1st 2012 @ 4:13pm
              Geoff Lemon said | March 1st 2012 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

              Just remember that Spiro is Tom Cruise.

              • March 3rd 2012 @ 3:38am
                Lorry said | March 3rd 2012 @ 3:38am | ! Report

                in that both Tom Cruise and Spiro Zavos still have all their hair?!

        • March 1st 2012 @ 1:18pm
          Nathan of Perth said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

          Definitely agree, well done Roar.

          • March 3rd 2012 @ 3:41am
            Lorry said | March 3rd 2012 @ 3:41am | ! Report

            Personally, i think this addition to the Roar stable is not such a great one….

            I mean the man is the CEO, how much is he going to say? Especially in these times….

            For me it’s like when I saw Howard, Rudd et al writing columns in the newspaper when they were in power…

            Don’t you all just tune out?!

      • Editor

        March 1st 2012 @ 1:24pm
        Zac Zavos said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

        Thanks Cattery.

        It’s a sign that The Roar is taken very seriously by all the major codes in Australia and credit to David Gallop and other CEOs that they take the time to share their thoughts with Roarers.

    • March 1st 2012 @ 1:14pm
      Albert said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

      It’s going to be a very exciting year. Wishing you and the commission all the best, especially with the Television deal.

    • March 1st 2012 @ 1:15pm
      sheek said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

      David,

      Welcome to The Roar. While I like rugby league, I love rugby union.

      So naturally I’m extremely jealous of league’s more prominent position in the Australian sporting community. Good luck for the season. Since I’m a great admirer of Wayne Bennett, I’m now cheering for the Newcastle Knights, also my mother’s birthplace.

    • March 1st 2012 @ 1:18pm
      Nathan of Perth said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

      David,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Best of luck with the curtain raiser and the season. Also, Perth Reds, you know it makes sense.

      Regards,
      Nathan

      • March 1st 2012 @ 1:40pm
        cos789 said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

        and Ipswich-Logan. Perth and Brisbane, timeslots, TV money, new fans, a game in Brisbane every week, more Queensland content for Free to air and Pay TV. It would also help prop up the QLD Cup.

        Makes sense.

        • March 1st 2012 @ 2:42pm
          Pete75 said | March 1st 2012 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

          Hear, hear!

        • March 1st 2012 @ 5:50pm
          Queensland's game is rugby league said | March 1st 2012 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

          I’d like to see the NRL work closer with the QRL so they can make the Queensland Cup.more professional and profitable The facilities at the Queensland Cup grounds should be upgraded so that each team has a grandstand that provides undercover seating for 2,500 to 5,000 people. Easts Tigers invested money in a nice little grandstand around a decade ago. It should be the model that all other clubs look to follow.

          Wynnum-Manly have a nice shaded grandstand. One of the reaons I became a season ticketed member of the Wynnum-Manly Seagulls is because of the beautiful grandstand they have.

          I’d like to see the QRL decentralise the Queensland Cup. Set up more teams in areas that do not currently have an NRL team. Add teams to growing cities like Logan, Redland and Toowoomba. The money from the television deal can help prop these clubs up over the short term, with the ultimate goal to make them self-sufficient through their Leagues clubs. Setting up teams in these cities will help rugby league remain Queensland’s number one sport.

          • March 1st 2012 @ 7:49pm
            Nathan of Perth said | March 1st 2012 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

            Good work supporting a state team, Qgirl, good to see

            • March 1st 2012 @ 11:00pm
              Queensland's game is rugby league said | March 1st 2012 @ 11:00pm | ! Report

              I became a member of the Northern Pride last week. 😀

              All of the Pride’s home matches are streamed online to persons who have an Outback Membership or higher. An Outback Membership only costs $20, plus $10 for postage and handling. So if you want to watch 11 high quality games of rugby league for $20, then the Pride is the team to join.

              Cowboys, Pride and Seagulls. I’m a member of all three. I encourage all Queenslanders to support as many clubs as they can.

            • Roar Guru

              March 2nd 2012 @ 12:38am
              Gary Magpie said | March 2nd 2012 @ 12:38am | ! Report

              Yeah, the 16 NRL Clubs should all support Commissioners who want to give more money to the QRL clubs rather than dispersing it among themselves.

              Let’s see, 16 votes for NRL clubs and 1 vote from the QRL… I wonder who will win… While we’re at it, let’s also get the 16 NRL Clubs to vote for Commissioners who want to relocate some of them to Perth, Brisbane or Ipswich.

              QGIRL, don’t hold your breath waiting for this ‘dependent’ commission to disperse funds and opportunity away from the current 16 NRL clubs that now control the Commission’s members.

              • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:59am
                Queensland's game is rugby league said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:59am | ! Report

                Gary Magpie,

                I know the NRL clubs won’t do anything for the QRL It’s why I’m supporting the clubs in the Queensland Cup.

                I believe the Queensland Cup can become a powerful, profitable second-tier competition. If it’s marketed right then I reckon the competition can draw an average of 2,500 to 5,000 spectators to its match. If the NRL isn’t going to get on board and help the QRL then it’s up to us, the fans, to help fund the competiton and seek assistance from our local councils.

                Guys, if you cannot afford to buy a $150 ticketed membership with your local QLD Cup club thenbecome a non-ticketed member for $20, or whatever it is your club charges. If you cannot afford that or don’t want to, then please make it a regular habit to watch the Queensland Cup match that will be televised on Channel 9 each Sunday at 2:00pm from March 11. The higher the television ratings, the more revenue the QRL will get to repay the production costs. Queensland rugby league needs you!

        • March 1st 2012 @ 9:49pm
          Beowulf said | March 1st 2012 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

          No problem with that….as long as they happen after the CC Bears are admitted!

          • March 1st 2012 @ 11:06pm
            Queensland's game is rugby league said | March 1st 2012 @ 11:06pm | ! Report

            Throw Manly out first, then bring in the Bears to replace them. Manly only has 40,000 residents. Warringah has what, 150,000? Not enough people for an area that will not grow much larger. Manly belong in the NSW Cup.

          • Roar Guru

            March 2nd 2012 @ 12:39am
            Gary Magpie said | March 2nd 2012 @ 12:39am | ! Report

            The only team the Central Coast will get, unfortunately, is the Central Coast Sharkies.

            • March 2nd 2012 @ 12:55pm
              Beowulf said | March 2nd 2012 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

              The Sharks have been told no, as that wouldn’t reconnect with northern Sydney, the key criteria of a CC side.

              • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:15pm
                The Truth Hurts said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

                Well I guess the CC will be without a team then.

                These CC supporters sound like the kid at christmas who throws a tantrum unless they get what they want. And when they don’t, they carry on and wreck the day for everyone else.

              • March 2nd 2012 @ 6:53pm
                Queensland's game is rugby league said | March 2nd 2012 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

                So the Bears are going to be called the Central Coast, playing all of their games, bar 1, in Gosford, yet the people who live in the northern suburbs of Sydney are going to support them?

                If I remember correctly, only about 8,000 to 10,000 people from the northern suburbs of Sydney supported the Bears when they actually represented North Sydney. I cannot see too many people from the area representing a team that’s based in Gosford and Wyong!

              • March 3rd 2012 @ 4:23pm
                Tommygun said | March 3rd 2012 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

                It’s so simple! Two new teams to be introduced in the near future… Another qld side and the central coast. Perth should get the relocated sharks. Two new sides, one simply relocated.

    • Columnist

      March 1st 2012 @ 1:21pm
      Chris Chard said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

      Great to see you on the Roar Mr Gallop, but now time for the biliion dollar question that’s on everybody’s lips….

      Will we see painted in-goals at this year’s grand final?

      Cheers

      CC

      • March 1st 2012 @ 1:50pm
        Nathan of Perth said | March 1st 2012 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

        Chris Chard asks the hard questions that people want to know!

        • Columnist

          March 1st 2012 @ 3:50pm
          Chris Chard said | March 1st 2012 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

          I consider it my duty to the game.

          Also has the new I.C given any thought to bringing in mandatory air-raid type sirens for full/half-time at all grounds, a minimum age for stadium staff (85) and a ban on all ground announcers saying anything other than the team sheet and interchanges?

          The fans demand answers!

          CC

          ps keep up the good work Mr Gallop

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