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NRL conspiracy theories exposed (and a few debunked)

The Sharks host the Cowboys in the match of the round. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)
Roar Guru
20th September, 2013
25
2341 Reads

Do you remember back in 2005 how the Origin records showed the Blues and Maroons had won the same number of matches – 34 each to be exact?

Even the total points scored by each team between the first match in 1980 and the final game from the 2005 series were virtually the same.

For many, this showed how great Origin is (or was) – very few sporting rivalries anywhere in the world are this tightly contested, or so the argument went.

These stats were especially talked up by Channel Nine and its commentators at the time as highlighting the closeness and intensity of Origin rivalry.

Imagine it – 20-odd years of Origin battles and nothing could separate the Blues and Maroons!

And do you also remember how at the time there were a significant number of (deluded) fans from both states claiming this was in fact evidence that Origin was ‘rigged’.

This particular conspiracy theory argued that, if Origin was in fact the real deal, then there is no way the records would be that tight.

According to conspiracy theorists at the time, this was ‘proof’ the powers that be were conspiring to keep the contest tight in order to maintain the fan’s interest in the Origin concept.

For these conspiracy theorists, State of Origin was no more ‘real’ than World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

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This was probably the first time I had heard of a rugby league conspiracy and at the time I thought it all seemed rather ludicrous.

Apart from the fact that hundreds of individuals and dozens of organisations would need to be involved in the conspiracy to make it work effectively, it was an insult to the great combatants of the era (like Alan Langer, Andrew Johns, Mal Meninga, Brad Fittler etc.) to suggest their efforts were in fact pantomime.

After eight years of Queensland dominance you no longer hear this conspiracy theory. After all, it no longer makes sense anymore, given the record books are no longer as close as they once were.

Great way to ruin a conspiracy theory, Queenslanders!

However, this year we have been inundated with a new range of conspiracy theories, which are each as ludicrous and unfounded as the Origin one.

The NRL + Channel Nine + Sydney + the world versus North Queensland Cowboys has been done to death, so I won’t add anything here (like most Roarers, I’m over it).

But in the interests of truth, justice and the Australian Way, I will discuss the other main conspiracy theories from season 2013 and expose finally whether they are in fact true or false.

The NRL and Channel Nine are actively working to make a Rabbitohs v Roosters grand final
While I have no doubt the NRL and Channel Nine do in fact want this to eventuate, this one is false.

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As many have pointed out, a grand final between these fierce rivals would boost interest in the match, enhance TV ratings, and so on.

Of course, many fans would love to see this match as well. It would be great to see these two rivals in the final match of the season, something that hasn’t happened since 1935.

However, is this really proof of a conspiracy? Of course not.

The fact the NRL or Channel Nine or Phil Gould may hope or wish for a Rabbitohs v Roosters grand final does not automatically follow they are actively conspiring to make this happen.

Without evidence the individuals or organisations involved are actively and deliberately involved in changing and managing events, then the conspiracy theory has no legs.

As Hanlon’s Razor states, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”.

I prefer to accept this adage and regard refereeing blunders as an example of ineptitude and stupidity, rather than of maliciousness.

Ricky Stuart has an unexplained power over club administrators and the media
The man they call Sticky has mystical powers, similar to that Emperor Palpatine had over Darth Vader, and this explains how he managed to acquire yet another coaching gig even though his club record is diabolical.

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This one is true.

Nick Politis and the Roosters are (indirectly) running the game
I hear and read this one a lot from a variety of fans. This theory alleges the NRL always does the bidding of Mr Politis, and is false.

The acquisition of Sonny Bill Williams is put forward as ‘proof’ the NRL kowtows to the Bondi mob, especially since Parramatta, in contrast, had to jump through various hoops in their failed attempt to acquire Israel Folau.

This conspiracy theory also argues the Roosters are well and truly rorting the salary cap and contends that as Ian Schubert was a former Easts player, he is obviously turning a blind eye to their alleged shenanigans.

This is a nice detail, as conspiracy theories with inside jobs (like the assassination of JFK) are the juiciest kind of all.

Of course I am a Rabbitohs fan and therefore genetically disposed to loathe the Roosters, however my objective side acknowledges the Bondi club is arguably one of the best-run establishments in the league and has been for many years.

Their recruiting of Sonny Bill, James Maloney and Michael Jennings (among others) are not a sign of a club rorting the cap – rather they are simply an example of arguably the best buys of the season by an exceptional recruiting team.

Much as it pains me to say it, kudos to them.

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Wayne Pearce has an unexplained power over the NSW selectors and the media
Not quite as sinister as Sticky’s sith-esque power, Junior’s is more akin to the mystical power Mary had over Ted in There’s Something About Mary and this explains why his son, Mitchell, continually gets selected for the Blues, even though 11 appearances is more than enough.

This one is true.

The NRL is against Souths and will do anything to make sure we don’t win the grand final
This conspiracy theory has actually been around for several years and is put forward by a minority of my fellow Rabbitohs supporters.

It is also patently false.

As a Rabbitohs fan I always find this one pretty silly (especially as it contradicts the earlier, equally silly conspiracy theory, above).

George W Bush said, “You are either with us or against us.” Apparently, according to these opposing conspiracy theories, the NRL is both for and against the Rabbitohs. Go figure.

This conspiracy theory harks back to Super League war, when the Evil Empire aka News Limited and Kaiser Soze aka Rupert Murdoch, booted Souths out of the comp.

But yet again, cause and effect is often ignored when promoting conspiracy theories.

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Is Rupert Murdoch a greedy tyrant who will stop at nothing to enhance his octopus-like reach over the planet and stomp over anyone who gets in his way? Probably.

Has Rupert Murdoch ever even heard of Souths? Probably not.

The Murdoch press (Daily Telegraph, Courier Mail, etc) has it in for the NRL (and particular clubs)
This isn’t a conspiracy theory as such, more an observation.

I haven’t made up my mind as to whether the Murdoch newspapers’ coverage of rugby league is an example of a concerted effort to drive the game down, or simply an example of piss poor, gutter journalism.

I think I’ll go with piss poor, gutter journalism.