As we seeing the start of a new code war?

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

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    One of The Daily Telegraph’s screaming headlines last week was ‘Wests Tigers utility Tim Moltzen in talks to play rugby union’.

    This was the second story in a week that revealed that the NSWRU was trying to sign up an NRL star. The first was in regards to Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, the Roosters forward.

    Technically the NSWRU would be getting one back with Waerea-Hargreaves, as the Kiwi has played club rugby in Sydney before and starred for Australia at the under-19 world championship in Ireland in 2007.

    But he has definitely made his name in the NRL and with the NZ national team.

    So, two highly regarded NRL players in rugby’s sights in less than a week.

    There may have been a lot of hoopla and hyperbole around the AFL’s capture of Karmaicheal Hunt and Isreal Folau, but they were stunts pure and simple.

    As always has been the case, the two rugby codes battle for players and we may be about to see a newly emerging code war. or perhaps this is just business as usual.

    Former leaguie Quade Cooper is tipping to join the NRL following the Lions tour in 2013, going to either Parramatta or the Roosters. How he could handle the defensive load in league remains to be seen.

    Ex-Bulldog and shoulder charge merchant Sonny Bill Williams is also coming back to the NRL, if the reports are to be believed, and joining the Bondi boys.

    This would be the case of the NRL hitting back and reclaiming two stars, Cooper being a league junior.

    But obviously the ARU isn’t sitting back idly. Former Melbourne Storm and Gold Coast Titans product Joseph Tomane is lining up for the Brumbies this season, while fellow ex-Titan Shannon Walker and Brisbane Bronco Denan Kemp are in the Australian Rugby Sevens squad.

    Of course, revealing just how inter-twined these two codes are, Tomane was an Australian Schoolboys (rugby) star.

    The similar qualities of the two sports means than many players have skills that can be showcased in both codes. The signings of Cooper and Williams, if they are pulled off, will be huge coups for the 13-man code.

    The fact that the ARU now has five Super Rugby franchises to fill and the impact of the NRL salary cap means that the rugby union body is always on the lookout for good league talent.

    Cooper Vuna and Jarrod Saffey are two ex-mungos playing rugby for the Melbourne Rebels.

    Just as Wendell Sailor, Matt Rogers and Lote Tuqiri were signed up at the beginning of last decade as marketing ploys, expect the ARU to continue with a few choice signings in the next few years.

    But if the NRL gets its $1 billion broadcast rights deal it will have the resources of its own to hit back by snaring some big-name players, like Williams and Cooper.

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    The Crowd Says (61)

    • March 20th 2012 @ 9:06am
      ufa said | March 20th 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      when was quade cooper ever a leaguie? the guy spent all his life playing rugby from the age of five in the timber town of tokoroa in nz to this day in reds colour and you call him a leaguie? get your facts right.

      • March 20th 2012 @ 9:13am
        JJ said | March 20th 2012 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        … you can add Jarrod Saffy (No E) into that ‘leaguie’ factual correction as well. Not a mungo. Played for a few years for the dragons but grew up in the Sth Africa and played rugby union for every other year of his life!

        • March 20th 2012 @ 4:22pm
          james said | March 20th 2012 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

          I think saffy was in the West Tigers for a few years too.

          Wiki agrees with me. 06 and 07 he was at the tigers.

      • March 20th 2012 @ 10:04am
        james said | March 20th 2012 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        he played reserve grade at the bulldogs I believe

      • March 20th 2012 @ 10:26am
        kovana said | March 20th 2012 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        lol… Ufa is a samoan swear word… Who is this?

        • March 20th 2012 @ 3:48pm
          ufa said | March 20th 2012 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

          hi kovana, it stands for united federation of afega. o au sole.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2012 @ 10:12am
      John Davidson said | March 20th 2012 @ 10:12am | ! Report

      Sorry ufa, my facts are right:

      It’s been mentioned many times that Cooper has played a lot of league. He’s played a lot of union too, so he’s pretty split evenly between both sports. Maybe not purely a leaguie, but no purely a rah-rah either.

      • March 20th 2012 @ 12:29pm
        Jaceman said | March 20th 2012 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

        Its a bit difficult to label players as juniors from either code as a lot tend to have played both at least for some stage of their life and as noted with Quade Cooper the history gets murky. Yes name calling is puerile – mungoes, gayfl, toffs – pathetic really..BTW if SBW goes to the Roosters wouldnt he take a slab of the salary cap because they wouldnt be paying him less than the NZ RU. Similarly Rothfields comment in the tele today is aposite:

      • March 20th 2012 @ 12:55pm
        Damo said | March 20th 2012 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

        Aw there you go calling us RU types ‘ra-ra’s”
        I am very upset by this cruel name calling.

        I have an old mate (who I played league with) who I call Mungo. He calls me RaRa, because that’s the game I preferred.
        I keep saying this that the two codes have more in common than difference.
        The off-field difference is largely cultural.
        But If we could find a way to share grounds, facilities, marketing, major events and players Australian RU and RL would improve internationally.

      • March 20th 2012 @ 3:31pm
        ufa said | March 20th 2012 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

        theres a big different in playing rugby every year from the age of five to 27 than having a run with mates in league a few times.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2012 @ 12:40pm
      John Davidson said | March 20th 2012 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

      Apologies Crosscoder, didn’t mean to offend. I follow both codes so see the term more lighten-heartened than harsh, hence my use both of mungo and rah-rah.

      Agreed with Go Warriors that the NRL’s under-20 Toyota Cup has been a great move, successful at attracting and showcasing players, and with pay TV coverage to boot. A bit of a shame though with the demotion of the NSW Cup, and what happens to those once they become 21 and over and aren’t playing first-grade.

    • March 20th 2012 @ 1:13pm
      Nathan of Perth said | March 20th 2012 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

      “As always has been the case, the two rugby codes battle for players and we may be about to see a newly emerging code war. or perhaps this is just business as usual.”

      Way to cover your bases, John.

    • March 20th 2012 @ 2:03pm
      kingplaymaker said | March 20th 2012 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

      John in a way the code war is more a case of the NRL and AFL blasting rugby to smithereens, a very one-sided war. Rugby through suicidal decisions such as fielding 5 teams vs its competitors’ 16 or 18, and losing millions through not having private ownership, has effectively put up a white flag to its competitors many moons ago.

      • March 20th 2012 @ 2:30pm
        Stevie said | March 20th 2012 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

        Kingplaymaker the reason there is only 5 pro RU teams in Australia is that there is only enough demand for 5 teams. Even 5 teams is too much of a stretch as 4 of the teams are rubbish. It was much better when there was only 3 teams as they were all competive. By having too many teams you are just stretching the talent to much and as a result the product turns to rubbish.

      • March 20th 2012 @ 3:07pm
        kovana said | March 20th 2012 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

        Hear hear. Rugby is the underdog in Australia.

      • March 20th 2012 @ 4:30pm
        Matt S said | March 20th 2012 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

        If union stopped its decades old attack on league, based on a century of lies & mistruths, both sports would be in a better place, morally and physically. There are already examples of this in some countries and competitions (league’s UK conference wouldn’t be half as successful without union cooperation, which in turn benefits union club’s finances I.e bar takings etc).

        League’s enemy, as is union’s, is AFL. The milarky from AFL supporters about GWS targeting those not engaged in rugby league is plain rubbish. They signed a league player, their CEO was a league administrator, and a weekend article (now an obligatory feel good story) about a Muslim AFL development officer in West Sydney, happens to declare he was a league player as with most of the players in an all Muslim team. Well, I thought this GWS gig was about engaging Wrstern Sydneyites not involved in rugby leage? Three good examples of a rubbish disguise to wipe out league head on.

        If unionites are sitting back applauding GWS, well, your next. The Swans already accept tahs/north shore supporters in droves. Look where AFL has come from-places where competition rarely exists. They are uncomfortable about northern markets and multi-dimensional support of various codes.

        This “oh look at Melbourne’s sporting fabric now-Storm, Rebels, Victory, Heart” is balony. Are any of these codes on FTA? Better chance watching NRL in Mongolia than Melbourne. Plus none of these clubs are really doing amazingly well? Success on the field doesn’t necessarily translate into off field success.

        Watch what you wish for.

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2012 @ 5:31pm
          SportsFanGC said | March 20th 2012 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

          Matt S – Rubbish rant and obviously you are another Anti-AFL everything poster.

          The question I have for you is this:

          If the NRL/Super Rugby/A-League were in the same position as the AFL are today with regard to finance, TV coverage, player participation, live audience etc would they not being doing the exact same thing that the AFL is trying to do? That is expanding to non-traditional markets and trying to build derby games across the country? Increase their presence and market share across AUS from the current position? Is this not simply a smart business decision with a long-term benefit for the game?

          I find it the height of hypocrisy that the NRL writers and supporters are so adament that Perth must be the next team admitted to the NRL, while in the very same breath deriding everything that the AFL does in GWS. I have not seen a single article from an AFL writer even mentioning NRL in Perth (which is an AFL state by all measures). But with the writers from Sydney regarding AFL everything is code war this and battlefield that. Time to grow up and cut the scaremongering.

          I live in Melbourne and attend live sport throughout the year including all football codes, cricket, tennis and the Spring Racing Carnival. Some people can enjoy more than sport, the fact that I am lucky to have the opportunity to watch this variety is fantastic!

          If you can only follow one sport then good luck to you and have fun in your vacuum with your conspiraciy theories.

          • March 20th 2012 @ 9:30pm
            Matt_S said | March 20th 2012 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

            SFM, your own zealots have stated they are attempting to untap the market that doesn’t follow any sport in Western Sydney. I’ve correctly pointed out they have signed league players, administrators and even league fans in their foray into Western Sydney. These aren’t untapped non aligned sports fans. They are league people. Hence competition attempting to take away league supporters. No rant, the facts. Come out and be honest.

            • Roar Guru

              March 20th 2012 @ 9:42pm
              The Cattery said | March 20th 2012 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

              The AFL never said boo when in the last 15 years the Storm, two A-League clubs and the Rebels entered the market in Melbourne (plus countless other teams in other sports).

              In fact Super Rugby adminstrators have said straight out that the AFL was extremely welcoming, much to their surprise.

            • Roar Guru

              March 20th 2012 @ 9:44pm
              The Cattery said | March 20th 2012 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

              I should add that the private schools in Melbourne have had rugby as one of their major sports for the best part of a century and have produced more than a handful of Wallabies – there has never been a problem between rugby and Australian Football in Melbourne.

            • March 20th 2012 @ 10:26pm
              ufa said | March 20th 2012 @ 10:26pm | ! Report

              matt s, if rugby league and afl have decided decades ago to develop their sports outside of its few professional clubs in victoria, nsw and nothern england, then maybe your sport (rugby league) would have been played in many countries and areas than currently is. stop blaming rugby for the wrongs your own administrations did decades and decades ago. i didnt know rugby was top blame for rugby league not having teams in melbourne, leicester, london, southampton, perth, adelaide, bristol, derby and so on in nsw premiership or northern union.

        • March 21st 2012 @ 5:56am
          kingplaymaker said | March 21st 2012 @ 5:56am | ! Report

          ‘If union stopped its decades old attack on league’. This suggests there has been no decades old attack from league on union.

      • March 20th 2012 @ 5:02pm
        Nathan of Perth said | March 20th 2012 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

        “and losing millions through not having private ownership”

        Like the ancient Israelites and their kings, this could cost you far more than it would benefit, because you’ll hand five people the power to destroy the game professionally if they ever get the thought in their heads. Be careful what you do for the money!

        • March 21st 2012 @ 5:57am
          kingplaymaker said | March 21st 2012 @ 5:57am | ! Report

          ‘you’ll hand five people the power to destroy the game professionally if they ever get the thought in their heads.’ Why would they want to do that? And indeed, why would the ARU allow them the leeway to do so? And has that happened in England or France, or has, instead, the game not benefitted from endless millions being ploughed into it by these owners?

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2012 @ 2:55pm
      John Davidson said | March 20th 2012 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

      Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Damo

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