Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Australian NRL - A Rabbit Caught In Headlights

There is a need to keep alert & proactive
Professional Australian rugby league a few decades ago was adventurous. Pushed by a breakaway movement in the late 1990's, teams were added and well received. Now TV rights have given the code money and players wages are better. However, the desire to move forward isn't there anymore from what I can see.

Perhaps there is a mood of 'if it isn't broken, then don't fix it'. I prefer the idea that 'if you're not going forwards, then you are going backwards'. If the latter is true, then the NRL is not doing enough. So what should it be doing? Here's a few ideas.

Expansion. Remember when the game went from a Sydney only competition to an international one? It breathed life into the competition. I love the game but increasingly follow the professional alternative in Europe. It's so much more interesting. A team in Perth is long overdue, another one in Brisbane, likewise NZ. A side could be a club like Manly joining up with the Central Coast north of Sydney, sharing games. A fourth team could be a Pacific Island one, based in Brisbane perhaps and playing home games in PNG, Fiji and other islands.

A Cup. This could have all pro teams plus top sides from NSW, Queensland and NZ competitions. Have say 32 sides, knock out style covering five weeks spread over a period in the season. Something to add a variety, something the NRL is massively short of.

More than one Nines tournament a year. Make it three a year and not all top players need to play. It would give rep players a break and young talent a chance to shine.

These are a few ideas that could break up what I feel is an increasingly stale presentation that we currently have. The staus quo is safe and currently earns money, but unless any code continues to innovate and try things, other attractions will slowly erode the interest that is there. The lack of change reminds me of a rabbit caught in the headlights, going nowhere fast.

Picture source: NRL.com

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Game's Origin

Tough, popular and cold (see linesman)

Sport back in the 19th century wasn't professional like it is today. It was about well being and character building. Schools played various types of Football but it was given a set of rules around 1869 to bring all schools together under one sport. Football (Soccer) was created and is the basis of all Football codes.

Like so many human endeavours, it didn't suit everyone. Those who wanted the leaders of the British Empire to be tough felt the game needed to be more physical and Rugby Union was formed. That became a code for middle and upper classes and by refusing to allow working class people compensation for time off work (broken time) kept the game for them. Working class people then had to play Football.

In the north of England, coal miners and factory workers wanted to play the rougher Football so twenty two clubs met in the town of Huddersfield to decide what to do. Unanimously they decided to break away and form their own game, called Northern Rugby. It quickly changed some rules to make it more spectator friendly and was a huge success.

No effort was made to spread the new game, the teams in the north of England were simply happy to play their game and compensate players for wages lost due to time off work. That is how the game could have stayed but elsewhere someone heard of this game and...well that will be a subject for another article.

Picture source: normanwalshuk.com.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

2017 World Rankings

The ranking system is let down by the fact that although efforts are being made to encourage international RL, there ares till too few matches to fairly rank nations. So I'll give my ratings of nations including heritage players, with the current official ranking after:

Tier 1:

Australia 1, New Zealand 2, England 3.

Tier 2:

Scotland 4, Samoa 5, France 6, Ireland 7, Fiji 8, Wales 9, USA 10, Tonga 11, Canada 13, Italy 14, PNG 15, Cook Is 24.

Tier 3:

Serbia 12, Russia 16, Jamaica 17, Belgium 18, Malta 19, Spain 20, Lebanon 21, Ukraine 22, Germany 23, Czech Rep 25, Norway 26, Denmark 27, Greece 28, Sweden 29, Netherlands 30, Niue 31, South Africa 32, Hungary 33, Phillipines 34, Thailand 35.

Tier 4:

Chile 36, Vanuatu 37, El Salvador 38, Latvia 39, Solomon Is 40, Uruguay 41, Morocco 42.

Some of the calls here are marginal. Should Lebanon and Jamaica be Tier 2? If heritage players are excluded, then the quality of some of the teams changes drastically. Heritage players (usually Australian) all show up for World Cups, but not for friendly internationals.

I would especially like to see more Nines RL played internationally but also more games with the full thirteen players. It would promote the game in countries where the code flies beneath the radar and more people will get involved. Of course it all costs money and that is something the international federation doesn't have a lot of.

First Up

Welcome to my new blog. I did do one called all about sport but decided to focus a bit more on my preferred code. Unfortunately it is seasonal and some times of the year it will be quiet but that comes with the way things are, both hemispheres play concurrently. So welcome along and the articles will follow soon.

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