How the worm has turned

How the worm has turned

How the worm has turned

For the past few weeks the level of whining coming out of Australia’s Rugby League “nerve-centre”, the NRL, has been steadily ratcheting up. Over the weekend the angle was that Sonny Boy Williams (a jumped up Kiwi mungo) had dared to be so disloyal as to walk out on his “contract” with his NRL club.

The NRL CEO and chief whiny biartch David Gallop (pictured just about to get a full whinge on) actually said:

“Sonny Bill Williams made this decision to walk off without notice. … It goes way beyond contracts and money, what we’re talking about here is someone walking out on their teammates mid-season.

“It flies in the face of everything that kids are taught about team sport and that’s the most disappointing aspect of it.

“We’ll be calling on the IRB to step in and get involved, this can’t be good for either of the codes. Contractual stability is important to both and if they don’t get involved then they’re condoning a form of international piracy.”

Yeah, you call on them David, but I think you’ve more chance on getting a response from the Navy over the piracy claim then getting the IRB to wipe the tears of laughter from their eyes and take you seriously.

If the guy’s walked out of a contract then sue him (that’s what contracts are for), but I suspect the beer rings from the schooner glasses are still visible on this contract when it was scribbled over a leagues club bar.

So like a whining kid whose parent isn’t listening, Gallop enrolled a few of the thousands of mungo hacks and changed tack, ratcheting up the “I’m doing this for all of us, because League really cares” angle. Here’s some fine logic from the Telegraph:

The All Blacks’ problem is identical to the NRL.

Every player that leaves weakens the competition slightly. Rugby’s problem is that the All Blacks are the greatest brand in the game. Wherever they play the crowds are bigger, the merchandise sells better, the TV ratings higher.

But consider the future, when the greatest brand is weakened because all the stars are playing French club rugby, and no longer wearing black. The long-term effect is that rugby weakens.

Their interest is solely the sleeves-up competition of France’s Top 14, the rest is just details. Once the French clubs are finished raiding New Zealand, and picking the eyes out of the NRL, the next frontier will be the Wallabies

I am literally still smiling as I read that. Someone with money who doesn’t give a shit about our game poaching our best players? How will we survive? The short term memory of the worlds biggest hypocrites is as breathtaking as the Wallaby performance last Saturday.

David, let me spell it out for you.

Australian rugby has lived with exactly this dastardly poaching for 40 years or more. From you, League.

Sure losing a few players to Europe for a season or two isn’t ideal. But while League will probably lose these players forever (unless they can’t cut it), the players will still be playing Union. And unlike League, Union is a truly international sport. So even if these guys go to Europe for a year or two, they can still come back and play some international footy that the world and the players give two shits about.

For these reasons the hard currency and opportunities are flowing into Union, whereas the same little Aussie dollar pie that League’s been carving up for decades remains stagnant at best (as proven by your wage caps and reliance on pokies). If the ARU was having trouble writing a cheque fat enough to lure the big League names across, then no more. It’s now got a french signature on it.

So when John O’Neil, king of rat-cunning, said earlier this year that there was probably only room for one rugby code, he wasn’t talking about a friendly little merger. He was painting the picture that League is the long-term professional rugby dodo. As the French, Japanese or whoever else has the cash picks the talent out of League and puts it into Union, League will continue to wither into the gawky retarded cousin of the one true game they play in heaven.



Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

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