AND yea, verily, it was written. In the future the poor will be rich, the weak will be strong, the meek shall inherit the earth and rugby league will scream like stuck pigs as the forces of rugby union, with cheque books in hand, merrily pluck their best and brightest to join union’s swelling ranks. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Of course the likes of Craig Gower and Mark Gasnier are only the first of league’s guns who will go, and there is little league can do to stop it, apart from go into a blathering lather about the importance of, wait for it, “loyalty”. (Hello?
Didn’t the whole game of rugby league start when enough blokes got together and decided to go after the money instead? And isn’t that really the greatest rugby league tradition of all, the key plank on which the game was built?
And in the centenary year, shouldn’t Gasnier be hailed for so upholding it?)
For in the fight to carry away elite football talent, how can rugby league’s parish pump possibly hold its own against rugby union’s real tide of serious global money? I don’t write that as parochial breast-beating, much, but as a mere statement of fact, mostly.
Last week, the International Rugby Board said that contenders to hold the next rugby World Cup would have to offer them £120 million ($248m) before they could even begin to bid. Meanwhile, the value of rugby league’s World Cup and a few dollars will get you a cup of coffee. Oh, do stop all that tedious carry-on and simply look at the numbers.
While the NRL continues to conduct an illegal cartel – a collusion of employers to enforce a salary cap and therefore pay players well below their true market value – you cannot blame those players who choose to go and get what they are really worth. A bare first step to league fighting back will be to abandon that salary cap.