Actually, NRL is in the shape of its life

MG Burbank Roar Guru

By MG Burbank, MG Burbank is a Roar Guru

 , , ,

71 Have your say

    The Sharks looking dejected during the round 25 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Cronulla Sharks. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan

    Related coverage

    I recently sat down with my father and watched the 1981 NRL grand final between Parramatta and Newtown. While it certainly provided rich nostalgia (place-kicks for touch, the old SCG, Rex Mossop’s mind-numbing commentary), I got up from the couch in awe of how far rugby league has come as a spectacle.

    In short, it’s now the most entertaining sport in the world.

    Not to take anything away from the Sterlings, Kennys and Prices of the 1980s, (had they been raised in today’s league environment, they’d be just as dominant), but the game today has travelled light years; it is now the perfect blend of legal violence, skill, speed and theatre.

    League leads the sporting world in self-correction, with rule changes the norm at the end of every season.

    So, in the words of Axl Rose (and I’m not even a Gunners fan), where do we go now?

    Let’s assume the NRL does land a billion-dollar-plus TV rights deal, which it absolutely should, given the way it dominates the top 100 broadcasts every single year.

    Concerning the product we see on the field every week, not far. The game is fantastic as it now stands. It is our work off the field which must be near-perfect for the game to grow significantly.

    In terms of expansion, Perth must round out the national aspect of the league. And the team must be properly supported by the NRL, unlike the Reds, who were never given a chance.

    Forget the Central Coast; the greater Sydney area is too congested as it is. Instead, there must be two Brisbane teams – the current situation is absurd. And we shouldn’t wait very long to introduce another Kiwi venture.

    New Zealand is ripe for the picking. Remember, Benji Marshall played rugby at one point – let’s keep siphoning off more teenagers just like him.

    Where there’s expansion, there must also be contraction. Cronulla should relocate to Perth. The team simply doesn’t have the appeal, corporate support, or fan-base to add much value to the comp where it is. Goodbye, Sharkies.

    Salary cap exemptions should have been made more broadly available decades ago (think Canberra, 1991). Any player developed within a club’s own system should get a massive exemption from the cap. Champion teams are great for the game, as are one-club, franchise players.

    Then there’s junior funding. With a billion clams in the bank, the NRL should go for broke on juniors. Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, country regions, Pacific Islands. Just flood them with cash and quality administrators. That investment will reap huge rewards down the line.

    Mid-season signings have to go. Folks, if Major League Baseball doesn’t have players signing with other clubs for the following season before their current year is over, there’s no reason for NRL fans to tolerate this farce. Make it illegal for players to negotiate. Period.

    These are just a few things we can do to strengthen the game. But make no mistake – our game is special right now, and in good hands. The trick from here is to know when to act and when to sit back and just enjoy it.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (71)

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 12:29pm
      Nathan of Perth said | March 2nd 2012 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

      You know, when I first read the title I wondered if this would be a “I’m in shape! Pear is a shape!” gag.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 12:52pm
      Beowulf said | March 2nd 2012 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

      The only way Perth will get a new team when heartland areas like the Central Coast are in need is through relocation. If the Sharks (or another Sydney team) are insolvent, they relocate to Perth and the CC Bears and western corridor will come in.

      Central Coast will be included. The foremost RL administrator of the past 25 years, John Quayle, said its not only a no-brainer as they are the only bid to meet all the key criteria (stadium, support, finances, low costs), but they should be brought in in 2014 as they’re ready to go now to stop the leakage of kids to other sports on the coast and northern Sydney.

      There can be no oversaturation when there is no easy access to NRL stadiums, and FTA and Fox viewing numbers are below the norm on both the Coast and northern Sydney – its in fact undersupply as the Bears catchment will not support Manly for historical reasons.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:07pm
        Nathan of Perth said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        “If the Sharks (or another Sydney team) are insolvent, they relocate to Perth”

        We wouldn’t want them even if they were healthy, why would we possibly want them if they were insolvent? And Cronulla would never do it because they would know that the first order of business for the RL community in Perth would be to begin the process of exterminating every hint of foreign taint in the franchise so we eventually get back to our native bid.

        Make no mistake, if Cronulla comes here either they will cease to exist as they were or they will fail utterly. Trying to market a Perth Sharks (tagline: “Come see the Sydney team that couldn’t hack it”) is just a dead-on-arrival concept.

        Give us the Reds.

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:24pm
          Ian Whitchurch said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

          You can see how exactly that process worked out with moving South Melbourne to Sydney. Its simply impossible to transplant a club. This is just crazy talk.

          • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:48pm
            DumpStar said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

            I think things have changed a lot since 1982. Sth Melb to Sydney was the AFL transplanting a club into an area that didn’t ask for a club, even then, it did eventually work.

            That said, I don’t think say Sharks to Adelaide would work, while Sharks as NZ 2 quite possibly would. I think for any relocated club to work, a large untapped interest in that sport must already exist.

            • March 2nd 2012 @ 2:02pm
              Nathan of Perth said | March 2nd 2012 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

              To be perfectly honest if we weren’t asking for a club a relocation would probably go better

              Its the idea of a Sydney transplant squashing our own embryonic native bid that is going to go over like a lead balloon.

              • March 2nd 2012 @ 2:11pm
                DumpStar said | March 2nd 2012 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

                I would never suggest moving a club like the Sharks to Perth, when they have actually done a lot of work in getting a bid together, though if they were unsuccessful in getting in this time around, they could do worse than court the Sharks, same goes for all unsuccessful bids. Central Coast Sharks? Sounds better than Bears!

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

                Don’t forget this is not about growing the game in the west as much as providing a tv game to the eastern states viewers, who are far more familiar with an existing Sydney brand than the Reds. The other advantage of a relocation is that the WA team will have a support network, home base and NSW Cup side in Sydney – major pluses. its worked with the Swans – the ARLC can learn from what they did right. The Swans are a success story – it took 20 years, but so will any WA side, and they’ve kept a brand and supporters in VIC as a result. overall, a positive story.

              • March 2nd 2012 @ 2:52pm
                Nathan of Perth said | March 2nd 2012 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

                Look, whilst I can understand that reasoning, it seems criminally wasteful to plonk a team here and not try and engage the community and financial resources of a state with a per capita GSP in excess of $80,000. Eagles are pulling $50m in revenue, Dockers probably $40m, Force $15m+, by my calculations the NBL Perth Wildcats are hauling in at least $2.5m on memberships alone, even Netball and baseball pull in excess of $3m a pop and they’re still talking about a third team. All of these without any kind of Pokies.

                If done right, a Perth Reds team has the financial resources and State Government backing sufficient to become an economic powerhouse.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:04pm
        The Truth Hurts said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

        “Central Coast will be included”

        I bet you were saying that before the last lot of inclusions too. Look what happened then.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:10pm
      jon webb said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

      Pete 75 Hi Pete I live in Mindarie and 20 of us from work going to bunnies match so interest is there…the boat is a pommie pub really if it isnt the premier league they are clueless……next time you go contact me and we can have a few beers

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:31pm
        Pete75 said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:31pm | ! Report


        Sounds good, I was actually cruising the interwebs looking for a WA league supporters site.

        Get in touch.


    • March 2nd 2012 @ 2:53pm
      Crosscoder said | March 2nd 2012 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

      There apparently is movement at the station(ch9),for the word had got around,that someone in rugby league had gotten off their backside”;

      NB I love a sunburnt country a land of sandgropers.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:06pm
        Nathan of Perth said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

        Interesting, C9’s WA branch seems to be actually moving on a number of fronts, tightening its links with a few local sporting organisations. Its good to see.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:12pm
      Johnno said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

      It says the NRL is in the best shape of it’s life what about the fact that rugby is a global sport and rugby league does not yet have the global reach that rugby union does.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:23pm
        Nathan of Perth said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

        Hell’s Bells, that’s a blatant troll. 😛

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:30pm
          Crosscoder said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

          Sometimes they just can’t help themselves,in the big,bigger,biggest facts of sporting life.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:27pm
        Crosscoder said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

        The NRL has ATM very little influence on what happens to rl overseas.That is the responsibility or was of the RLIF RLEF and the ARL.

        I don’t see where anyone has suggested rugby league is a global sport,or draws a comparison with ru.

        I simply stated rugby league is developing overseas and happens to be played in more countries than ever before.All of this being done without the assistance of the NRL to this stage((pre I.C.)
        It certainly does not have the global reach of union,but what has that got to do with the health and growth of rugby league.

        i have been following this code for as long as I care to remember,and taken in the mix,with more participants in this country than ever before,continually growing Tv ratings and sponsorship and membership and merchandise sales,added to the number of countries playing the game and starting up the game, is higher than I have ever seen it.It has not at times been easy sailing ,with hiccups such as Russia.

        That to me suggests health both within the NRL and internationally ,regardless of what is the position of code X internationally. .

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:39pm
        Ian Whitchurch said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:39pm | ! Report


        So, hows Otago going in the NPC ?

        Its New Zealand, heartland of rugby union. I’m sure it’s happy, stable and basically going great.

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:44pm
          Johnno said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:44pm | ! Report


          Otago is on the brink of extinction, hay have got won 1 more week of execution.

          • March 3rd 2012 @ 7:46am
            Crosscoder said | March 3rd 2012 @ 7:46am | ! Report

            No AB Fan
            15 of the 16 NRL clubs are not in dire financial straits.
            Sharks,Manly perhaps Titans would be the only ones to fall under that category.That according to my limited maths ability ,does not equate to 15/16ths.

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 4:09pm
          King of the Gorgonites said | March 2nd 2012 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

          Ian, you will be happy to know that the Highlanders first game of the year is offically a 23K sell out. so yea i think rugby is still doing fine in the Edinburgh of the south.

      • Roar Guru

        March 2nd 2012 @ 4:25pm
        MG Burbank said | March 2nd 2012 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

        True- Rugby is far more international than League. That doesn’t make it a good game, which is why people only show up to watch rep games. They’ve done studies on how often the ball is actually in play during a match- meaning in a player’s hands, running the football. Rugby is way below League in this respect- most of the time the ball is stuck in a maul/ruck or a scrum, or being punted down field. Argentina and Italy may play rugby but that doesn’t make it a good sport to watch, which is why interest in the game has dropped off markedly in recent years.

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 5:48pm
          oikee said | March 2nd 2012 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

          The big money, smart money is finally coming for rugby league.
          I have said for years, the only thing holding league back is money.

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

          says who?? Reveal your sources!! Especially when an Italy-All Blacks game can, and has, filled out AC Milan’s (soccer) 80,000-seat stadium (one of the biggest in that country).
          BTW: when was the last time the Kangaroos played Italy in RL? (Straight forward question which needs equally straight forward answer!!)

          • March 3rd 2012 @ 7:52am
            Crosscoder said | March 3rd 2012 @ 7:52am | ! Report

            Actually ABFan Italy rugby league has won its way into the RLWC 2013.The game is played in italy and growing.Perhaps they will get the opportunity to play the Kangaroos and/or the Kiwis then.It’s all good.
            The fact another NZ billionaire is putting his money into the Worriers(sic) suggests money is indeed coming into the game.Just don’t let Clive Palmer buy a club.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 4:32pm
      JVGO said | March 2nd 2012 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

      Anyone who needs to malign the 80’s should watch this.

      Martin Bella, Kurt Sorenson, coathangers, haymakers and even refs scoring tries.

    , , ,