The Roar
The Roar

EastsFootyFan

Roar Guru

Joined August 2015

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Perhaps, but it’s worth pointing out that it isn’t like Robbo took over a club that was flying… They finished 13th in the season prior to him coming in and had ended up with the wooden spoon a couple years before that. The side jagged its way into the 2010 GF like they did in 2000, but were always massive underdogs. Now that the side are an absolute powerhouse its easy to say that Robbo has had it easy, but having lived through over 30 years of Easts history, I can assure you that the side and systems in place now are a uniquely Robinson creation – even down to the little things like embracing more of the teams early history. Could he do it elsewhere? Like I write above, all we have to go on is his rookie years at Catalans, but I wouldn’t bet against him.

Is Wayne Bennett a super coach or a super fraud?

Easts didn’t leave the comp – they just rebranded due to “Eastern Suburbs” not being the best name that had spread its borders well beyond the original NSW confines of the original competition.

The Roosters are building an NRL dynasty with ruthless intent

As a Roosters fan I’d rather not 😛 . Watching the side as it is now is how is just such a joy, but it’s also a club you just want to support on and off the field.

The Roosters are building an NRL dynasty with ruthless intent

Got to love the brown paper bags comments. It’s such a weak cop out – usually from fans of clubs that have massively overpaid for underperforming talent.

Who is the most powerful NRL club? Part 6, the winner is...

Yeah, having Todd Carney in the side certainly didn’t help on that front…

The Roosters are building an NRL dynasty with ruthless intent

“While Sydney likes to think they are the heartland of the game, that title must belong to Brisbane, where they do not have a fractured supporter base supporting other teams in the town, because they are the only show in town.”
Mate, your logic is back to front. Sydney is fractured BECAUSE it is the heartland of rugby league – it’s why the city can support 8 clubs…
Also as for “the multi-million-dollar training ground is the envy of all other professional teams, of any sport, in Australia.”
I mean, is it though? The Panthers have a heck of a facility and plenty of AFL clubs are very well set up on that front, whilst the Roosters seem to manage just fine with a comparatively pretty basic set up because their overarching player development system is so much more comprehensive and advanced. It’s worth asking what value is a blinged out training facility when a team of vagabonds like the Warriors with no permanent base right now can knock off your chargers.

Who is the most powerful NRL club? Part 6, the winner is...

Agreed. I had this discussion with a mate and we were just out of school during the 2000-2004 period in which the side made 4 GFs. That was a great side and really they should have won the ’04 GF (if not for a clear double movement by El Masri and lazy Justin Hodges defence – just sayin’ 😛 ), but it was no where near as dynamic, had nothing like the depth and also crucially as you rightly point out it didn’t have as strong an identity. That’s one thing a lot of the people who dismiss Robbo because he’s at the Roosters fail to understand. First of all, when he came in the side was coming off a season in which they’d finished 13th, so it’s not like he didn’t have work to do. But secondly, he’s made being a Rooster something aspirational for players as they know the system will improve them as footballers AND that the club also wants to help them be better people in general. He’s also brought back a lot of the old identity of the club, reviving the old songs at the ground, bringing the old chook back in to more and more parts of the identity with little touches like recognising longevity at the club with that rooster they put on the arm of the jersey that comes in different colours depending on your service. It’s a lot of little things, but he’s clearly a man who gets what motivates people.

The Roosters are building an NRL dynasty with ruthless intent

Mate, he’s not just a run of the mill fraud; he’s the “Harvard Hoax”!

Is Wayne Bennett a super coach or a super fraud?

That’s true, but they’re also innovative thinkers and tacticians. Robbo started out at a very poorly resourced side at the Catalan Dragons and improved their win ratio by 50% as a rookie coach with barely a fraction of the support and resources he has now. Also the players that come into the Roosters system become better and that tends to make the roster look like it should be worth more than it actually is.

The same is true of Bellamy; he’s developed a strong association with high performing clubs across different sports. The most notable one is the relationship he initiated and built with the All Blacks. It’s little wonder that players that other clubs don’t value go to their system and suddenly look like superstars.

Is Wayne Bennett a super coach or a super fraud?

Clearly I’ve touched a nerve here… it seems like you don’t like to admit there might be a socio economic aspect to your football code, but it definitely has one whatever blind ideals you may be projecting onto it. We’ve already covered how the AFL is a thoroughly private school game in Sydney, but even in Melbourne you’ll find that fans of soccer consider their game one more of immigrants and public schools vs the AFL which they see as more Anglo/wealthy. It’s there for all to see, and you choosing to ignore it doesn’t make it less real.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

Are you claiming Victoria doesn’t have a socio-economic/class divide? Because I can assure you it does. When people say “class” in this context they don’t mean 19th century England, it really just is a short hand for public school vs private school upbringing, and working with a number of people from the more well to do suburbs of Melbourne, I can tell you that if you think there isn’t a rich/poor cultural divide in Victoria you are living in a fantasy land. In fact, if anything it’s worse. A colleague of mine that moved to Sydney from Melbourne observed that whilst Sydney there’s rich and poor, but they come from everywhere, whilst in Melbourne there’s a well established aristocracy that’s closed to outsiders.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

It used to be a massive deal. In the mid 00s it was the closest thing Union had to Origin. But as Super Rugby became more of a convoluted mess and AFL started eating more of Union’s lunch, the passion and spectacle was just drained from the whole thing and now no one cares. It’s a shame, because there was a time where I’d never miss it.

The Wrap: Be patient and Super Rugby AU will stand on its own five feet

Let’s be honest, your average punter doesn’t give a stuff if his footy code is a “world game”. Soccer is almost too big for its own good. Rugby Union is pretty well perfectly sized, because a lot of the countries we’re most familiar with and have long standing banter with are strong in it. But the problem we have it’s become an overly technical mess and we also just suck at it and have for a while now. Meanwhile, whilst Rugby League is a powerhouse sport in Australia (technically the NRL is the biggest club rugby competition in the world for either code), it’s too weak in England and NZ for the international “product” to be too engaging. In reality, all Australia needs is a strong England and strong NZ though – the Kiwis being the plucky underdogs and the poms being the arrogant old aging empire. But as it stands the poms are a decrepit and uncompetitive side and NZ just have too few professional points of presence.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

Yes, quite clearly. But that’s I think the problem; the AFL have pumped a quarter of a billion dollars into trying to create a geographical identity where there really isn’t one. Sydney is quite different to Melbourne in that it’s almost structured like a number of different cities jammed together. South Sydney and Western Sydney have quite distinct identities, and the latter have a lot more soccer fans. The Western Sydney Wanderers grasped this far better than the AFL side did, which is how they managed to turn into a cultural movement almost immediately whilst the Giants have struggled to manufacture an identity and everything they do always come across like something dreamt up in some marketing division.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

To be fair to the Storm (not something I like being) they have actually done a lot of work in developing pathways and academies for Victorian players. Part of the problem is just getting that junior League up to a standard where it can produce players for the Storm up to their incredibly high standards though. They need to have a larger footprint and probably a second team there. With regard to the international focus, it is a challenging one. The question is whether there’s more value in investing in states where the press is actively antagonistic to you or looking at the Asia Pacific region where you’ll be more welcome and expanding adds another line of content via internationals. On that base calculus alone regional expansion makes more sense than Australian expansion sadly, and to be fair I’ve long advocated that the NRL aim to have 3-4 teams in New Zealand for the simple reason that they have massive playing stocks in Union that never make it pro in their Super Rugby franchises and that strengthening NZ gives the game a much better showpiece rivalry with Australia. It’s a strength the game has that’s being squandered. The AFL have also invested quite a bit in NZ, but the challenge they will always have is that to a lot of Kiwis embracing a type of football with “Australia” in its name is an active disadvantage.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

The data I referred to was from a study of the supporter bases on all major football codes in Australia, so whilst there are obviously pockets of multiculturalism in the AFL the audience data indicated it was a less prominent trend in the code. I’ll see if I can dig it up for you.
With regard to Sydney and AFL, it’s not so much that people “couldn’t abide” playing a Melbourne sport, but rather that it just wasn’t as much of thing outside of Victoria at the time. In our globally connected 21st century world it’s easy to forget that when these games were first played, nobody really cared what was happening in the other states, just like people didn’t care as much about what was happening in other countries.
It’s like how soccer fans like to argue that the AF states love AF because they don’t have to compete on the world stage. That’s just not part of the equation; it’s just that soccer in its current form wasn’t a thing 100+ years ago and no one cared if your sport of choice meant you might see the whole of Australia represented in a World Cup.
All sport is fundamentally driven by local dynamics and rivalries.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

“Working Class” is a relative term. A lot of it is purely about how people identify, and I can assure you that even some of the well to do – particularly out west – still identify that way and romantically have an affiliation with League because of those roots.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

I have no doubt the AFL rightly targeted Union as a sick man of Australian sport, but it seems to me that they did so without really considering the ongoing implications of this. It’s worth pointing out that the Rugby League/Union states/territories (ACT obviously being one) does constitute half of Australia’s entire population. I get what you’re saying about the other states and Victoria in particular, but having that type of perception problem is an issue if it’s prevalent among half the population.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

Precisely, it’s a double whammy of negative identities for the League following Sydney-sider; the AFL is viewed as both a posh private school game AND a Victorian import (which has a whole other layer of smug poshness that just grates your average League fan lol).

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

This is quite right – the NRL has been badly mismanaged for years, often so riven by internal differences that the saying goes that if the NRL were a country it would be Afghanistan such is the level of internecine conflict, with not just the clubs but the media in NSW and Qld also constantly undermining the game. Compared to that, the AFL has in comparison been a picture of harmony and singular direction. Spending time in Victoria I always noticed how the media always seemed so full of praise for everything the AFL did, whilst in Sydney the press – particularly the Murdoch variety – was always seeming to put the boot into the NRL (especially when the TV rights were coming up lol).

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

It is presently, but historically that’s a recent phenomenon and the last “World Cup” proved the PI nations are emerging as a fascinating story in themselves. It’s also worth noting that Australia-New Zealand test matches outrate their Union equivalents by a fair margin and have done for some time.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

I think he’s more getting at the fact that as an abbreviation most Australians who follow the codes think “Union” when you just say “Rugby”. It’s kind of silly, as that’s certainly not the case in the Northern England, but that’s the assumption.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

In all honesty, from a cultural standpoint I think a lot of it’s part of the Sydney-Melbourne divide… As I write above, the AFL likes to see itself as an egalitarian sport, but in Sydney is view similarly to Union now given where it’s placed itself here. This is reflected in the audience data too – there was a study a couple years ago that showed League had the most multicultural fan base of the major football codes, whilst Union and AFL were both quite WASPy in their makeups by comparison.

In a sense, I think that’s partially always going to be an issue given the power bases of both games are in Sydney and Melbourne respectively. In that sense I reckon an expansion into WA by the NRL needs to be led by Qlders as WA and Qld are culturally and economically very similar and so I reckon there’d be less gripes and overflow from that broader identity divide. It would certainly need to learn from the mistakes of the Titans, Suns and Giants in any case.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

I just can’t… The Giants base is largely in the ACT where both a large share of its juniors and members are based, and a Sydney team whose identity is split between Western Sydney and Canberra just won’t do. Like I said, the whole thing feels designed by committee in Victoria on what they think us Sydney siders would like. It’s got the same problems the Titans and the Suns have… it all just has an astroturf feel. I usually just jump on supporting the Dockers when I’m with my dad as that way at least we’re on the same side in one sport! He rather disgustingly supports Souths in the NRL, so that’s a no go.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony

What’s interesting though is that AFL in Sydney has strategically positioned itself in Union heartlands and focused on usurping their position first and therefore its base is now largely in the private schools here. As a result, the AFL here – whether intentional or not – has actually bought into the Union-League class divide and placed itself firmly on the Union side of it.

As a result, for a lot of League people AFL is now seen as the new posh upper north shore sport of the WASPY elites. The fact that it’s also got a heartland in Victoria – which acts like a foreign country – only adds to the sense that it’s a game for the aloof and out of touch and in that sense is the furthest thing from egalitarian you could imagine in our context.

Time to end the code wars, AFL and NRL can live in harmony