Sunday, 7 August 2011

The National Debacle League (2009)

Since my move to Melbourne earlier this year I have been baffled by the contradictions surrounding Melbourne, Rugby League and the media. What follows is one fans view of the issues today’s game faces outside Rugby League heartland.


Melbourne has proudly assumed and boasted the title of “Australia’s sporting capital” for some time now.

The home of Cricket in Australia and Australian Rules Football, the Melbourne Storm NRL side which has picked up two premierships in it’s short existence, the Melbourne Tigers who dominated Australian basketball for a long time, home of the Australian Open tennis tournament, the 2009 Netball champions, a soccer team, home of horse racing’s most famous race and are proposing to have a team in the new Super 15’s Rugby Union Tournament.

However there is a distinct reluctance to allow any sport a fair chance of success in Melbourne if it is seen to challenge AFL.

Rugby League is scarcely mentioned in Victorian specific programs, the Friday and Sunday matches are shown at a later time then they are in Alice Springs, which is baffling considering Melbourne has a successful NRL team.

This is due almost entirely to the media’s lack of courage to support a game that would challenge AFL. The AFL also have a part to play as well. Not only is Rugby League cast aside, so to is Soccer. Rugby Union is a foreign language altogether.

The fact these other football codes are all but banished from Melbourne doesn’t actually support their ‘Australia’s sporting capital’ slogan optimistically.

AFL officials, media, players and fans are so confident that their sport is the best in the nation. While I’m not going to debate that issue, I will state that it’s hard to lose that argument when no other sport is given any air time.


The NRL is owned by a media conglomerate. Newspapers and television deals make up the games existence. Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia. It has a successful Rugby league side who has won two Grand Finals in 1999 and 2007, also owned by the same media organisation.

Yet the only press associated with the game surrounds the controversies and not the game itself. The AFL media is completely different. Any negative press about AFL is reported in the news then buried quicker than a lawyer.

Why won’t Channel 9 telecast live NRL nationwide?

The AFL won’t lose any viewers in Melbourne.

At worst, Channel 9’s ratings nationwide on a Friday night would be no worse than what they currently are.

Furthermore, NRL ratings in Melbourne can only improve on their current record, given the games would be shown at a normal hour. The quip that NRL doesn’t rate in Melbourne is only true because you have to stay up til 4am to watch both games on a Friday night. When most of the population has been working all day, the prospect of staying up that late is borderline impossible. The Sunday game finishes at 2am Monday morning. Most people work on Monday’s. This programming defies logic. Why bother at all?

Channel 9 recently unveiled their new Digital channel, called GO! One would think that NRL could be seen live on at least one of these two channels. Instead Channel Nine has opted to take an anti-Australia stance and show nothing but substandard American rubbish on their new channel.

There’s no reason why NRL games can’t be shown live nationwide. It may actually help Channel 9 and Rugby League.

The fact that the same media organisations which own the NRL are the ones who proudly and extravagantly pump out controversy after controversy about the game is the ultimate insult. You’d think this would be against the best interests of their business.


The NRL needs to immediately rid itself of the media parasite which has been living off it for over a decade. It has done nothing but regularly drawn bad publicity to the game, which is drawn out and excessively magnified. No other sport in Australia is scrutinised as heavily as Rugby League.

Each code has its dramas and controversies, but Rugby League’s are exacerbated beyond belief. People are still talking about the Greg Inglis controversy with his girlfriend, which is still speculation, however an AFL player in a local match who was struck in the head by a spectator with a mallet, has been hastily removed from our minds.

Obvious problems.

Simple solutions.

However the NRL and Channel 9 are too simple to see them.

It’s time to take our game back!

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