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10 reasons league and union should merge to become One Rugby - and give AFL nightmares

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Expert
23rd February, 2024
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Anyone who knows me also knows that I never criticise without offering solutions.

I posted elsewhere on The Roar that I thought the NRL should either buy rugby union or consider a merger.

The real benefit for rugby league would be greater international exposure and for rugby union would be  stability. For both it would put to rest the argument of which winter sport is the largest – One Rugby or AFL.

The idea of the National Rugby League (NRL) purchasing or merging with Rugby Australia to become One Rugby is a significant proposition with potential benefits and challenges. Here are my 10 reasons why such a move could be advantageous for both codes.

1: By merging with Rugby Australia, the NRL and RA can consolidate resources, administrative staff, and marketing efforts, leading to more efficient operations. Only the very best people will be employed across the merged entity.

2: With a broader portfolio of rugby competitions under its umbrella, the new entity will be able to negotiate even better broadcast deals, ticketing revenue, sponsorships, merchandise agreements and betting arrangements thereby increasing revenue streams.

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Coordinating the schedules of rugby league and rugby union competitions would minimize overlap and maximize the availability of top-tier rugby matches throughout the year. This would help avoid fixture clashes and ensure a more consistent viewing experience for fans.

3. A merger would create a more cohesive player development pathway from grassroots to professional levels, streamlining talent identification. Pooling resources for player development programmes would lead to a more robust talent pipeline for both rugby league and rugby union. Shared expertise and infrastructure would benefit both sports. It would be a nightmare for AFL.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii of the Sydney Roosters during the round five NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Parramatta Eels at Allianz Stadium on March 30, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Code hopper Joseph Suaalii. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

4. By offering a diverse range of rugby experiences, from rugby league to rugby union, the combined organisation would attract a broader fan base. This would lead to increased attendance at matches, higher television ratings, and greater overall engagement with the sports.

5. A single governing body for both rugby league and rugby union in Australia would streamline decision-making processes and improve overall governance. This would lead to greater accountability and transparency within the sport.

6. A larger organisation would have more bargaining power in negotiations with government bodies, sponsors, and other stakeholders, potentially influencing policy decisions and securing funding for rugby league and rugby union development.

7. A unified rugby organisation would present a more cohesive front in international competitions, such as the Rugby World Cup and Rugby League World Cup. This would enhance Australia’s standing on the global rugby stage and increase opportunities for success.

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Australia are reigning Rugby League World Cup champions. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

8. Bringing together the NRL and RA under a single umbrella would foster a sense of unity and collaboration within the Australian rugby community. By working together towards common goals, the sport as a whole could thrive and flourish in the years to come. The NRL and RA would be able cross-promote their respective competitions and events, leveraging each other’s platforms to reach new audiences and grow the overall rugby community in Australia.

9. Instead of competing for resources and attention, a merger would reduce rivalry between NRL and RA, allowing both codes to thrive in a more collaborative environment. A merger would ensure that the rugby codes would stay ahead of AFL, no matter the metrics.

10. By consolidating operations and maximizing revenue streams, the combined organisation would achieve greater financial stability and sustainability in the long term. This would provide a more secure foundation for investing in community development and infrastructure projects.

While there are undoubtedly potential benefits, it’s crucial to acknowledge the complexities and challenges involved in such a merger, including governance structures, cultural differences between the codes, and potential resistance from stakeholders. Any decision to pursue such a path would require careful consideration and negotiation to ensure the best outcomes for Australian Rugby League and Rugby Australia as a whole.

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