Johnathan Thurston’s contention that regional teams are subject to an unfair disadvantage because of the sway held by television at NRL headquarters is more an observation than a news story. It’s patently true.
The problem we have in squeezing four national football codes into a country of only 22 million is that we have to paper over a helluva lot of cracks. We only have six state capitals and one of them is so small it can’t support a team in any footy code.
So while we do our best to even up the playing talent between the franchises, we can’t force people to like them all equally when some are based in giant cities and others in rural areas. Television likes the teams that people like the most – and because of that will work against the interests of the game’s administration by pushing those teams, allowing them to demand more from sponsors.
The way our television networks are set up – out of capitals with regional affiliates – accentuates the problem.
As I wrote in Rugby League Week this week, the Central Queensland NRL bid is finding it difficult to swim against the tide of news content that comes out of the capitals and into regional areas. Football teams like the Cowboys have managed to actually send content in the other direction – but you’ve got to get into the comp first.
It’s wrong that Canberra are never on free-to-air TV. It’s wrong that Brisbane always play on Fridays. The previous administration of the NRL managed to give us uncertainty of results, even when a team based at Suncorp Stadium plays one based at Leichhardt. That’s no small achievement.
The challenge for the new hierarchy is to eliminate the other inequalities which were enshrined in the current broadcast deal. Full-season scheduling will go a long way towards doing that.
Burgess boys will get England call-up
England are going to South Africa for a training camp straight after the grand final and I fully expect Luke Burgess to join brother Sam in Steve McNamara’s squad. McNamara was at Sunday’s South Sydney-Wests Tigers game, sitting next to George Burgess who will one day also play for his country.
Just one question though. Given that England were brushed by Australia and New Zealand for internationals this spring, and that their workload consists of just Wales and France plus (hopefully) a Tri-Nations final, why aren’t they playing the South Africans as well?
Given that the Rhinos aren’t in the World Cup, I don’t think it’s going to damage anyone’s credibility if a second-string England runs up 90 or 100 against South Africa, as Australia and England did against New Zealand A and the United States respectively before the 2000 World Cup.
If we have professional rugby league players going in an officials capacity to a country where our game is played, let’s get what we can out of them.
Super League dumps sponsor
Discord has been reliably informed that sponsor Stobart did not dump Super League one year into a three-year deal – it was the other way around.
And that’s good news for the game. If you can’t get out of a deal with someone who paid nothing, then when can you get out of one? Maybe the RFL had to stump up for the metho to wipe the adverts from the side of the trucks.
By dumping Stobart, RFL chief executive Nigel Wood has repositioned the game in the market place. Accepting a naming rights deal for nothing was tantamount to commercial suicide – staying around for the duration of the deal was actually letting go of the bridge and hurtling earthwards.
Now the league can enter talks with a new backer in a position of – comparative – strength.
League, I love it
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