NRL to put more stoppages in the game? Give me a break!

Ben Pobjie Columnist

By Ben Pobjie, Ben Pobjie is a Roar Expert

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    Manu Vatuvei was in sensational form against Samoa. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Wayne Drought

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    It’s always gratifying when a sport that you love embraces modernity and gets with the times, ushering in a new era based on a recognition that stagnation is death, and that progress is vital for any game to thrive.

    For example, rugby union commendably went professional back in the 1990s, allowing the game to grow and become a greater spectacle for all, while also providing players with the security they needed to stay in the game long-term.

    Likewise, cricket accepted that the future was here by introducing one-day cricket, then coloured clothing, then Twenty20 cricket. Most recently it has allowed technology to be used that ensures that umpiring decisions are as correct as possible, unless India don’t like it.

    And, of course, the very advent of the “unless India doesn’t like it” rule of international cricket administration indicates the sport’s commitment to welcoming the modern age.

    Rugby league, of course, has always been in the vanguard of progressiveness. The leagues came up with the idea of poaching other codes’ players long before rugby and AFL got on board.

    It invented the idea of a sad, laughable Gold Coast franchise back in the 80s, the model of which the A-League has followed to the letter.

    And it is rugby league that has always been pro-active in ensuring the games themselves remained exciting and relevant. It was rugby league that, recognising that scrums involved an unacceptable level of unpredictability in the game, turned them into uncontested jokes for the sake of the fans.

    Likewise with rules on striking in the play-the-ball and stripping the ball, rugby league administrators have worked tirelessly to eliminate messy contested-ball situations from the sport so that spectators are never made to feel uncomfortable by unexpected events.

    Not content to rest on its laurels, it was the NRL that recognised how much fans loathe draws, and that what they prefer is for games to be decided by field goal shootouts. They therefore introduced the marvelous golden-point system.

    Nobody could ever accuse rugby league of failing to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to innovation, and it looks like that’s a trend that’s unlikely to stop any time soon, with the news that the NRL is looking for ways to increase stoppages in rugby league games in order to maximise advertising revenue.

    I am sure I speak for all of league fandom when I say I could not be more excited about this development.

    Not only will the advertising revenue allow players to be paid much, much more – putting paid to the problems of impoverished NRL stars, and stopping the constant raids on league ranks by cashed-up rival codes looking to replicate the spectacular success stories of Karmichael Hunt and Wendell Sailor – but it will introduce a lovely rhythm to the average NRL match.

    With more breaks, the viewer will have more time to relax, more time to reflect, more opportunities to duck into the next room for a biscuit.

    The relentless pace and action of a rugby league game will no more cause ulcers and shortness of breath; we can always be secure in the knowledge that no matter how frantic and non-stop things are right now, within a minute or two there will be a corporate-mandated rest period and we can all have a bit of R and R.

    Won’t that be a relief?

    How many times during a State of Origin match have we all said, “Goodness, this is exciting, but I wish they’d slow it all down a bit, I don’t think my old ticker can take it?”

    How many times have we bemoaned the mad rush to take penalty kicks and conversions? “Slow down!” we cry. “This isn’t a race, take your time, your haste is most unseemly!”

    Wouldn’t it be a relief, to be able to kick back and read some of your book while waiting for a line dropout to be taken? That’s the whole trouble with modern sport: it allows so little time for indulging one’s hobbies during play.

    As for fans at the ground (assuming fans still go to the ground to watch rugby league?) – their experience will be the most thrilling of all, waiting for the signal that the commercial break is over so that play can start again, counting down to the end of the ad.

    Perhaps the ads themselves can be played on the big screen during the breaks, finally introducing a real living-room atmosphere to the sometimes sterile and detached experience of live sport.

    This is what I like to call a win-win-win-win situation. Sport lovers have been crying out for years for more commercialism within the on-field action, and leave it to the NRL to deliver. As always, rugby league is the pioneer.

    The only way it could possibly be more satisfying for the fans is if it were specified that 50% of all ads must be for bookmakers.

    Then we’d finally have truly realised the dream of JJ Giltinan.

    Ben Pobjie
    Ben Pobjie

    Ben Pobjie is a writer & comedian writing on The Age, New Matilda and The Roar, whose promising rugby career was tragically cut short the day he stopped playing rugby and had a pizza instead. The most he has ever cried was the day Balmain lost the 1989 grand final. Today he enjoys watching Wallabies, Swans, baggy greens, and Storms.

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • March 16th 2012 @ 7:39am
      oikee said | March 16th 2012 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      Look, i came up with ideas, lots of them to add more timeouts for ads without affecting our game. 3×30 minute periods, straight off you get another 10 minutes of ads, and you also make the game 10 minutes longer, with the extra 10 minute break, that is close to 2 hours of play with ads.
      Another idea is the time out call, or cpatains callenge, coach challenge, whatever you want to call it. That can be 2 a half, so their is some more ad time.
      Plus drop ball scrums, go to a ad, let the video ref look at the breakdown, if the ball was stripped or fowl play, reverse the call, it will ad excitement, and when you come back from the ad break, you will be waiting for something to happen, or maybe not, maybe he just dropped the ball cold.
      Yes, after a dropped ball, go to ad, dropout, go to ad. Their is many times you could have ad breaks, kicks out of play, 40/20’s the list is endless.

      • March 16th 2012 @ 9:20am
        Fivehole said | March 16th 2012 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        Fowl play only occurs in roosters games….boom boom

        • March 16th 2012 @ 10:35am
          theworldofando said | March 16th 2012 @ 10:35am | ! Report

          well played sir. well played.

        • March 16th 2012 @ 11:14am
          oikee said | March 16th 2012 @ 11:14am | ! Report

          🙂 i knew it was the wrong Fowel.

      • March 16th 2012 @ 5:03pm
        Pete75 said | March 16th 2012 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

        I have just the game for you!


        Jesus oikee!

    • March 16th 2012 @ 7:46am
      Crosscoder said | March 16th 2012 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      I have no problem, if they put ad breaks in after a try is scored,or a defender is caught within his own in goal or prior to a scrum formation.That is all.Even the odd banner ad I would not have too many qualms about.As long as the structure of the game is not affected,and the games are not disjointed ie bringing in quarters.
      I would go so far as to have an additional 5 minutes break at half time,as an alternative.It also gives fans extra time to do what nature requires and buy the overpriced food that is flogged at the stadiums.

      Many rl fans and me included,bang on about the lack of money within the game,to further grow the game to its full potential.There is only so much money available to people and limited numbers of sponors around.Many of us are expecting the ARLC and Gallop to get off their backsides and secure a $1b min Tv deal.
      The only way the code can achieve long term financial security(via a $1b deal) ,is to obtain a large swathe of the folding stuff viz a viz Tv contract.
      The route to achieve that, is by expansion (a certainty),and by the Tv companies securing greater advertising revenue,than they currently are able to achieve.The likes of 9 and 10 need additional money,for their bottom line.Ads are the way to go.

      The simple fact is ,the games needs money and plenty of it.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 8:42am
      Boomshanka said | March 16th 2012 @ 8:42am | ! Report

      Ads are only a fact of life for league fans in Australia because our codes are hampered by their ability to maximise their revenue and sell directly to pay TV. Live FTA rugby league is not something the government should be giving us. Hospitals, Schools and Police but free sport – what sort of nanny state do we live in?

      By having to sell to these FTA Muppets (via the anti siphoning legislation), sport and fans are sold short. FTA will always be part of the mix however at the moment FTA does not “respect” the game given its handed to them on a plate.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 8:49am
      The Greatest Game Of All said | March 16th 2012 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      This is all smoke and mirrors from the TV execs. NRL as a product right now is worth $1.25 billion ($250 million/year) without all of the ad break ideas that everyone is getting sucked into.

      I read recently that with short adverts squeezed into already existing breaks (drop outs, scrums, tries) the game could earn $70 million per year, $350 million over 5 years.

      If we get more ads, fine, but anything under $1.6 billion ($320 million/year), I’ll be dissapointed.

      • March 16th 2012 @ 9:58am
        JamesP said | March 16th 2012 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        Wow, so you are expecting a greater than 3 fold increse on the current rights deal?

        Is it April 1 already?

        • March 16th 2012 @ 7:44pm
          The Greatest Game Of All said | March 16th 2012 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

          Nah just expecting to get more than the AFL.

    • March 16th 2012 @ 8:55am
      Titus said | March 16th 2012 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      Rugby League is pretty much unwatchable on FTA these days. No amount of talking up by Rabbz and Gus is going to make up for the fact that the game is 30 mins of ads, 60 mins of wrestling, 15 mins of time outs for video reffing, and 10 mins of excitement.

      I tried to get into the games last weekend but in the end I found Coast, on the ABC more entertaining.

      • March 16th 2012 @ 9:34am
        Renegade said | March 16th 2012 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        Well your a pretty boring bloke then.

        The games this year have been entertainment plus….your obviously a code war hack, go somewhere else with these type of comments or go watch soccer 😉

        • March 16th 2012 @ 9:40am
          Titus said | March 16th 2012 @ 9:40am | ! Report

          I already do watch Soccer when given the chance and Coast is a fascinating and wonderfully picturesque show.

          This comment was brought to you by OAK the smooth, milky milk drink.

      • March 16th 2012 @ 2:49pm
        Jaceman said | March 16th 2012 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

        Coast is on SBS but I know what you mean…

    • Roar Guru

      March 16th 2012 @ 9:09am
      The Cattery said | March 16th 2012 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      Time to grab a biscuit is always a good thing, I say.

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