Sunday, 7 August 2011

What An Irrational Oversight (2005)

It must be stated that the NRL has done some many great things in its short existence, mainly getting the Australian Rugby League game combined again after the Superleague debacle.

However, I am about to address an oversight on behalf of the NRL, one that could cost the NRL unimaginable amounts of money and supporters.

Recent talks doing the rounds at NRL headquarters at present revolve around the new team they plan to introduce into next years competition. The settled upon three applicants, Gold Coast, Central Coast and another New Zealand franchise, with the Gold Coast looking like becoming the successful applicant.

Foolishly, the NRL ignored another bid, that was never made public, that could prove to be very costly for them. Through intensive research (for the purposes of strengthening my point here) and hard work (not on this subject, but I do work hard) I have gathered enough information and proof, which I shall now present to you.

The bid that the NRL hastily swept under the carpet was from the NSW country town of Humula. Humula, with a population of approximately 115 (dogs and cats included), and located 76 kms east of Wagga Wagga is in the large rural region of the Riverina/Southern Highlands.

They have …. facilities, such as a ground and a shed for players to change in. There is also a golf course located adjacent to the ground. Admission would be very affordable, as people have to supply their own seating.

Player wise, the team was willing to puchase some of the Riverina’s finest talents to represent them. The team would thrive off the players in the Group 9 competition that was played in that region, and not buying big name stars from already established clubs.

This plan was created to improve the image of the game in the country, because at present the premier winter sports in this area are AFL and Rugby Union. Declining interest in Rugby League would be halted and a wane in support for the other codes would begin.

All of the NSW rural communities would conglomerate at Humula every second weekend, watch their local players representing them in the big time, then at the end they would all remain at the ground for the post match celebrations, which would then become a B&S Ball, lasting a week.

The economy for Humula would begin booming, and the interest in Rugby League in the rural communities would once again rise. All in all, when you do the mathematics (I had to use an abacus to ensure the calculation was correct), there are more people in rural NSW than in any of the other three bids.

Rugby League is already prominent in those areas, moreso than in rural NSW. The Humula bid was about broadening the fan base of Rugby League in Australia, introducing many more new players to the game that generally remain unnoticed. The first graders in Country Rugby League work just as hard as those in the NRL yet receive nowhere near the same accolades or paypackets. It’s about time that situations such as these were evened out.

But in the NRL’s ignorance of such issues, they have decided to go with the quick easy money option instead of the long-term success they could generate, not to mention the increase in players and fans.

This mindset adopted by the powers that be at the NRL headquarters could see the steady decline of the game in other areas of the country that also receive little to no attention. If the game in Australia begins to die off, then our competition becomes weaker, and other codes, specifically Rugby Union, will continue growing until League becomes a sport where it is only televised in America on ESPN7.

For the sake of the game of Rugby League in Australia, the NRL needs to address the situation and consider the financial and long-term success that the Humula bid could bring to the game. Obviously the bid doesn’t look too brilliant physically, but financially it has some merits, but only if you look at it with an opinionated and biased perspective.

So come on NRL, stop being rational. The Humula Wheelbarrows are ready to compete in the NRL. All you have to do is upgrade the ground, it only needs seating, suitable dressing rooms, adequate food and drink stands, goalposts and parking. Come on NRL, get on the Humula Wheelbarrows bandwagon!

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