Another slapstick moment for NRL clubs

Steve Mascord Columnist

By Steve Mascord, Steve Mascord is a Roar Expert


32 Have your say

    It’s difficult for one to make up one’s mind whether it’s Shakespearian or Vaudevillian.

    After months of agitating and lobbying, the NRL clubs manage to take the independence out of the ARL’s independent commission by forcing constitutional change, which will give them two seats on the committee.

    But they continue fighting among themselves to the extent that at the final hurdle, it looks like they’ll vote down their own coup!

    The entire affair is the most compelling proof that the clubs shouldn’t be getting those two seats, even if the people they plan on appointing have no direct connection to them. Ray Dib was a powerful figure in the whole thing and now he’s been voted off his own club’s board.

    Do we really want the entire direction of the sport to be left at the mercy of murky, ego-driven Sydney club politics?

    It’s only going to take two clubs to vote against the reform for it to be torpedoed but then, of course, we’ll be looking for two independent commissioners.

    And the blokes we get could be the same two – Peter V’landis and Glen Selikowitz – but without them owing anything to the clubs. That sounds perfect, actually!

    Or perhaps former Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert will get a reprieve; he didn’t get the required votes from the clubs but now that he’s shown interest, the ARLC could conceivably tap him to become involved after all.

    Let’s not waste time with the perennial argument about the clubs generating the wealth through the TV rights for one competition out of hundreds that are played in Australia each weekend. Sure they do – and they want more wealth.

    The ARLC, on the other hand, is charged with maximising the number of people who watch and play the sport. That’s what should drive a professional sport, not the desire to win championships, pay coaches a squillion and get a new hyperbaric chamber.

    Anyway, the clubs have already squeezed their money out of the NRL. They got what they wanted. Now let the chairman-elect of the ARLC, Peter Beattie, get on with the job of doing what other professional sports do – at least attempt to expand.

    Peter Beattie

    Peter Beattie. (AAP Image/Jane Dempster)

    Flying in the face of that objective to an even greater extent than clubs having two seats on the commission is NSW and Queensland being installed there for all eternity.

    The Country Rugby League, which has comparable playing numbers to NSW (although the Newcastle comp has just defected to the NSWRL apparently), aren’t represented at all. Neither is Victoria, home state of the current NRL champions.

    We’re living in the past – we know that, unable to make up our mind if we’re a suburban or national competition. But do we really want to stay there-here forever?

    One senses that clubs will always threaten to break away – and sometimes will. That’s how rugby league started.

    But the people leading the sport – and I include England’s RFL in this – are the ones with the media contracts and government recognition. The Rugby League International Federation has copyrighted the rules of the sport.

    They are there to lead. If an individual does a poor job, he or she will be out on their ear but there is a responsibility during each person’s tenure at headquarters to leave the sport in a better position than they found it.

    Clubs? Their responsibility is a W each week. Let them bicker among themselves and make all manner of threats.

    But don’t let their noise distract us.

    Steve Mascord
    Steve Mascord

    Steve Mascord has covered rugby league in 15 countries and worked for most media organisations that regularly feature the sport, on both sides of the globe. He started off as an 18-year-old cadet at Australian Associated Press, transferring to the Sydney Morning Herald just in time to go on the last full Kangaroos Tour in 1994. He spent three years at Sydney's Daily Telegraph from 2006 before going freelance at the conclusion of the 2008 World Cup. Steve is the author of the book Touchstones, host of the White Line Fever podcast, partner in international rugby league merchandise start-up Mascord Brownz, and proprietor of, and He is married to Sarah and splits his time between London and Sydney.

    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 (32)

    • February 14th 2018 @ 8:14am
      Mick said | February 14th 2018 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      Well said Steve Mascord. Letting the self interested clubs onto the board of the ARLC would be a massive mistake. It is up to the ARLC to promote and support all Rugby League not just the NRL clubs.

    • February 14th 2018 @ 8:31am
      Oingo Boingo said | February 14th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

      Ah Steve , more wasted words on your part.
      The ARLC is not about expanding the game , it is about cannibalising the game.
      League is on a path of self destruction, overseen by a hand selected group of well paid mercenaries who have been set the task of creating so much confusion and blame shifting, so that in the wash up no individual will be responsible for its demise.
      League will have died a natural death , a game that had no place in the brave new social engineered world that we are being forced to embrace , or face various forms of punishment if you resist .
      AFL is the chosen Trojan horse for the job at hand, and will slowly eat league up like a an untreated cancer , not because it’s a better game , but simply because that’s what the faceless men want.

    • February 14th 2018 @ 8:46am
      RK20 said | February 14th 2018 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      And as the continue to squabble rugby’s major league rugby officially announce the joining of a professional rugby team in New York bring it to 8 for the 2019 season and 7 this year.

      Why are they so afraid of expansion???

      • Roar Guru

        February 14th 2018 @ 10:51am
        Emcie said | February 14th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

        They aren’t afraid of expansion, they’re afraid of the cost of investment

    • February 14th 2018 @ 9:12am
      Paul said | February 14th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      It’s sad by true, Rugby League is dying as a sport, both here and in England, because greedy Clubs are thinking only about themselves and not about the game as a whole. All of the indicators for success are pointing the wrong way, yet these clowns want more and more power to continue to rape the game for their own good.

      It’s about time the Clubs had a good look at themselves and decided whether they wanted t help foster and improve the game or continue to only consider themsleves. Sadly, I think I know what their answer would be

      • February 14th 2018 @ 9:56am
        jeff dustby said | February 14th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        its not dying.

        • February 14th 2018 @ 10:09am
          Oingo Boingo said | February 14th 2018 @ 10:09am | ! Report

          HA HA HA …. ya right , it’s not dying…. it’s being moidered.

    • Roar Guru

      February 14th 2018 @ 9:58am
      Sleiman Azizi said | February 14th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

      Provincialism fighting for its rights…

      With clubs getting several million on top of having the salary cap covered by the NRL, you know the poker machine mentality never left.

      • Roar Guru

        February 14th 2018 @ 1:31pm
        Matt H said | February 14th 2018 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

        All that money that could have been invested in the grass roots, expansion and the international game, now just sitting, adding to support staff salaries in NRL teams. Well done NRL clubs.

    • February 14th 2018 @ 10:27am
      Justin Kearney said | February 14th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

      And in another Charlie Chaplin moment the women’s comp for later this year is struggling to find enough teams because so many clubs including Melbourne aren’t interested. National rugby league my ass!