PRICHARD: Super League memories two decades on

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    The Super League war changed rugby league in Australia forever and journalist and Roar expert Greg Prichard was at the coalface during the biggest upheaval of the game.

    20-years after the code split in two for one season, Prichard sat down to discuss what it was like writing about the game during that period.

    Even though he was working for a News Limited publication (Which was behind the Super League push) Prichard felt no pressure to talk up Super League.

    “(I worked at The Australian) – They didn’t lean on us to report one way or another,” Prichard said.

    “The Super League days were amazing because they really suit today’s media. Things didn’t change day by day, they changed hour by hour or often within the hour. Something that was news an hour ago was old news and had changed an hour later.”

    We take the 24-hour news cycle in rugby league for granted these days but there was a real sense that Prichard and his colleagues were pioneers for the never ending thirst for stories.

    “It was so wild at some stages that you could pretty much write anything. If someone was prepared to say something outrageous you could write it and get away with it because the landscape was going to change and everyone would forget what they said.”

    Prichard was kept busy like most league reporters at the time in having to cover both competitions.

    “I remember going to the Super League grand final in Brisbane and back at the Sydney Football Stadium on the Sunday for the second last week of the ARL finals. It was pretty busy but it was fantastic because it was so interesting and dramatic.”

    Stay tuned for more highlights from Greg Prichard’s 40-year journalism career in the coming weeks.

    More Prichard:
    » The toughest person I’ve ever interviewed
    » Covering the Sydney Swans during Cappermania

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • July 18th 2017 @ 2:17pm
      Duncan Smith said | July 18th 2017 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

      Who could ever forget that astonishing game between Adelaide and the Hunter Mariners? One for the ages.

      Seriously though, an insane period for RL.

    • July 18th 2017 @ 5:00pm
      Wild Eagle said | July 18th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

      It was horrible for fans. Good for journalists and players pay packets. The lies and untruths left a sour taste in my mouth for a long time.
      John Ribot and Chris Johns belittling the work of the NRL in creating a “product” that they thought was good enough to buy and dribbling on about millions of fans in China wasn’t much chop.

      Fans telling me that the inflated money that the NRL was paying players to remain proved that the money was always there was more dribble from fully formed adults that was embarrassing. The wages were sending the game broke, not that hard to work out.

      • July 18th 2017 @ 6:59pm
        Brendon Waldron said | July 18th 2017 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

        You used ‘NRL’ twice while while discussing a time period where the NRL didn’t exist yet…

        • July 19th 2017 @ 3:02pm
          Wild Eagle said | July 19th 2017 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

          ARL , is correct I imagine but I’m suspect nobody cares too much about technical errors like that. Or maybe they do?

    • July 18th 2017 @ 5:42pm
      Wounded tiger said | July 18th 2017 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

      “It was so wild at some stages you could pretty much write anything” Just shows the disgrace and lack of ethics that existed at the time. News Ltd journalists had a licence to say and do anything to sell super league. News Ltd now owns the game. Its blasts the ARLC where ever it can. We are still paying for it.

    • July 19th 2017 @ 1:29pm
      Crosscoder said | July 19th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

      The principle behind a Super league was good in theory, but in a country of then( what 22million est ),with competing codes for the customers’ dollars was plain insane.
      I attended the meeting at Shark’s Leagues club, the night the club decided to go to the new comp.You could hear and feel with quite a few the alarm and disgust at such a decision.Gow,Ribot.Meninga etc in attendance.
      In hindsight getting into SL saved the club financially but did irreparable harm to the game, both from a fans’ perspective many lost to the game, and to the benefit of codes such as AFL and to a lesser extent the ARU.

      ET was supposed to be the next big thing in China LOL.

      Rupert got his Pay TV going,the ARL lost an estimated $25m they had in reserves, and News hundreds of millions .
      North Sydney disappeared from the earth,the Rams were fleeced, the Reds were thrown into the gulag of obscurity,teh Crushers crushed,4 teams lost individual identities.

      The amazing thing the code survived, proving resilience is in its DNA.IMO it still has not recovered to the extent where it should be now.Put it down to having two owners for 20 plus years, poorly negotiated Tv deals, Head Office CEOs who either could not think outside the square, were not marketing experts, dod not project a powerful go forward image, hence the very reason the code is marking time today.And loss of touch with grassroots.

      Millions upon millions of dollars wasted on players, some who were at best bench players circa 1996/7.Money that could and should have been spent on grassroots and facility improvements.

      It nearly killed the code, and it created emnity among friends within the game ,which took ages to heal.
      May a blight such as this never arrive again in Australian sport.

      • July 19th 2017 @ 3:15pm
        Wild Eagle said | July 19th 2017 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

        The whole episode was one long false advertisement for Super League and frankly I wasted too much time debating with fools at the time who were spruiking the News Limited line and imagining that they were using their own brain.

        That’s why property seminar con artists are still doing well because of people who listen to vested interests and get sucked in to the whirlpool. Hard to imagine that we had two teams in Newcastle at one stage and the one that is left has almost been ruined by another egotistical so called mogul.

    • July 20th 2017 @ 12:17pm
      Nostradamus said | July 20th 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

      Super League is the biggest mistake in the games history, It tore the game apart and set it back to a point where it still hasn’t recovered, all because of a media mogul’s ego. If the SL war never happened I think we would already have a team in WA and maybe even Adelaide.

      • July 21st 2017 @ 11:02am
        Paul Chapman said | July 21st 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        Nostradamus, there was a team in Perth (Reds) for several years & they joined Super league. I think you should check out the conditions that the ARL/NSW League imposed on non Sydney (outside of NSW) Teams & you may be able to understand why they jumped ship into Super League. The Arthurson/Quayle combination were in charge of ARL/NSW at the time & please don’t insinuate that they were Saints. I will give you one small example of the standard & fairness of the Arthurson/Quayle administration.
        John Ribot complained to Arthurson about something that he suggested that Quayle had done & Arthurson said he would have it investigated & he handed the situation over to the NSW administration to sort out. Quayle as a member of both the ARL & NSW League was handed the case to investigate his own conduct. Really the ARL/NSW administration was a mini “Sydney mafia” that helped caused the split.
        I am sorry for Ruby League that the “Split” occurred but something had to be done. Ruby League learnt a lot from that period & it is now a better & fairer game all round..

    • July 21st 2017 @ 6:04pm
      Simoc said | July 21st 2017 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

      Well I played in about 1975-1976 Group 11, for Condobolin in NSW vs Dubbo Mcquarrie and we were pretty useless but the crowd was still over 2000. I went down to Sydney to watch Artie Beetson & Russell Fairfax play for Eastern Suburbs some team in a top of the table clash in front of maybe 500 people. Staggering.

      Then along came Tina Turner, lots of promotion and the league world changed. The game has improved as has the coverage where-as rugby union continues to stagnate with archaic laws, refereeing and scoring.

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