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Couple of questions from a new NRL convert


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#1 DeadShotKeen

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 03:24 PM

After a few years of dipping my toe into NRL (mainly just via the highlights show NRL Fulltime) I've finally gone in at the deep end by recently subscribing to our Premier Sports in the UK (just in time for Origin 1) and have watched a heap of games in the last few weeks. All I can say is "Where has this league been all my life?" The quality is exceptional (especially the outside backs and the speed of the PTBs) and the presentation first class. It's basically the NBA (my other favourite sports league) but with rugby league - perfect! This is elite rugby league as it should be played and showcased. I've enjoyed most of the games but today's Rabbitohs-Titans takes top honours thus far. Outstanding stuff.

To give a bit more context, I'm a lifelong Hull KR fan who became a more committed Super League (and HKR) champion in 2006, partly - of course - due to HKR becoming a top flight side again but more crucially because of the 1st toe in the modernising waters of the league via licensing, which I had hoped would eventually lead to a brave franchised league and a destroying of our long-standing hierarchies (perhaps via mergers etc. - I would gladly support a merged Hull team and continue to campaign for one for the benefit of the sport). So my desertion to NRL is more to do with a complete disillusionment with Super League following the recent indecision around the future structure of the league and the appalling news (to me anyway) that we're almost certainly going to let small historic clubs back into the elite fold. Basically as someone longing for a more level playing field and who thought his team stood a genuine chance I feel totally betrayed and let down by Super League and can no longer lend my support to such a weedy, backward-looking body as our RFL. So I'm watching NRL as a neutral instead. Not my first choice, of course, but I feel I can't expend any more emotional energy fighting a pro sport hierarchy in my spare time and won't be throwing more money into the financial black hole that is a team like Hull KR in a tiered system, who now face a future of mediocrity (at best) and diminishing support. At such time as European RL wakes up and modernises (or more likely, goes bankrupt and is forced to modernise), I'll be back. Until then, make mine a subscription to the far flung NRL and the thrills, spills and general unpredictability of a truly modern, colourful league that is worthy of this great sport.

I say all this only really to finally get it off my chest (having bleated to no avail on the main forum for months) and in the vain hope that some of the movers and shakers of Super League might take note. Hierarchy-based pro sport leagues with promotion and relegation simply do not work in the modern era. Franchised leagues populated by teams of roughly similar resource and fan base are the only way to go. More power to NRL for realising this long ago and being brave enough to create its own history, for which it now reaps its deserved rewards. And that's hopefully my last word on this matter on these pages, although regretfully I do like a sporting structure-based debate. :).

OK so the main aim of the post wasn't that but rather to ask a couple of questions about NRL:

(1) I note that the player movement system is similar to ours in that players out of contract at season end tend to sign new contracts with new clubs mid-season but move only at the start of the next season. Is there also a mechanism for players under contract to move right away? A frustration of mine with Super League was that despite the salary cap acting as a leveling measure of sorts, the small number of clubs with the financial clout to do so could replace a departed or retired player or plug a cap hole by paying a transfer fee to pick off a smaller rival's top player mid-season and field them right away. I can't see anything to suggest this happens in NRL but info on the web has eluded me.

Also, has there ever been the suggestion of player trades under contract as happens in the US leagues? That's something I would support for rugby league but seems to have eluded NRL thus far.

(2) Are there any hierarchies or perceived hierarchies in NRL? I know there's a cap and 92.5% cap floor so it would seem not (or at least, difficult for them to be in any way meaningful or problematic) but then I'm also aware that the Rabbitohs and Roosters have the most history so perhaps some added clout in the fan base department? I tend to think of the Panthers and Knights as being "smaller" NRL teams but that's only because of the 16 teams they were perhaps the last 2 I became aware of a few years ago. And of course I know the Storm and Titans are recent expansion teams so perhaps face a bit of a fan shortfall. Basically, do some sides have a bigger pull to the elite players than the others or is it rather - as I hope - that the playing field is seen as being very level?

OK I'll try to keep it "footie" based and less wordy going forward but would appreciate any help regarding these 2 points. :)

#2 G Las D

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 09:38 AM

I came to NRL from a different, almost opposite, position than you DSK.
I was disillusioned with Super league from the very start.
The completely new set up based around Sky TV coverage of the game, which saw our game switched from winter to summer together with structural and financial changes that aimed at being a new future.
However my club, a long standing and successful heartland club was discarded in favour of this brave new world you describe. In it's place came cluibs like London and Paris two clubs that in a way show the problem with a radical change that both alienates many fans already in the game with thehope of replacing them many times over with new fans.
We can argue over the intention and the vision for the game that you clearly found uplifting.
One reason for the potential changes to the game proposed is that the high powered modern franchised game has appeared on the surface to be in the same mould as the NBA (I've little knowledge of this) and the NRL, while in reality it has never really attracted these hordes of new fans, especially the ones that pay to put their backsides on seat on the day. Yes the clubs at the top of SL have seen their gates increase, but I guess that relects how crowds follow and enjoy success.

Some of my thoughts:

The NRL has been successful in that it has a high profile where it matters. It has grabbed the attention and active support of many people while developing the rules  of the game to produce a more exciting, all action sport to follow.
The finances have followed new ventures. There has been big money available to mean that new clubs, like Storm, have been able to establish themselves and create a high profile within the game.
The important mergers you mention as being a part of the new future for our game, for many reasons that I can understand didn't happen at the beginning of the New Age. So maybe the Super League era didn't start as it had been pictured to be. The mergers that happened later eg Sheffield/Huddersfield were not the key ones that so upset many fans  when dropped on them from a great height. My own club was to have been part of Calder (?) with Cas and Wakefield. The way this was approached and announced was guaranteed to cause sit ins on the pitch and massive resistance.
I will concede that if that had have happened assuming I would have continued attending having embraced my new club, I'd have seen top flight players and more big occasions than I was destined to.
It was at the start of Super league then that I conitnued in my lifelong support for Fev while looking elsewhere for top class rugby league.
It was natural for me to look to the NRL after a year or two where world class players produced exciting 'footy' supported by big crowds.
 
Following the aussie game generally wasn't enough for me. I felt the need after a while to find and follow a team to be mine!
I soon found in Storm a keen, friendly group of people then on the Melbourne Storm official fans forum who were both helpful and generous. I'm sure the same would have gone for other aussie clubs but I just felt right about Storm and have never regretted my allegiance to them.
So, in a way I developed my keen interest in the NRL coming from my disillusion with the then British game.
Your reasoning now is from a totally different perspective than mine was then, however it seems that both of our interest spring from a shared desire to watch hugely competitive top level rugby league where the standards are generally high and where the media coverage is more informative and enjoyable.
 
It amazed me at first that NRL clubs often signal their changes earlier than in th UK. Clubs sometimes know early in a season that their head coaches are leaving them at the end of the season and going to Club X next year. Likewise this happens often with players,
This season Eels management have announced pubicly that at least 12 of their squad will not be retained for the 2014.You can question the wisdom of this sort of move, but have to admit that this as with other aspects of the game make it a very dramatic and newsworthy. Likewise dramatic things happen with players where out of favour  high profile players get dumped either to their feeder clubs or just sacked.
One of the most notable aspects is the strong way that those running the game handle tough decisions - they make them
Look how they punished my club Storm when they were found to be consistently cheating the salary cap system to retain more than their share of top payers. They were clobbered. Likewise players who get involved with anti-social or criminal acts are punished within the game, not just in the courts.

Within the NRL there are top clubs that naturally can attract more than their natural share of top talent. Most  middling and lower clubs though do, as you'll know, have plenty top class players to watch at their club week in week out - Jarryd Hayne for example at Eels, Benji Marshall, Robbie Farrah and others at West Tigers. That's a major point in the NRL there's a lot of top quality players in the competition. Every year there's a host of top class rookies coming through. The non-aussie players are not just journeymen or people cashing in. They are top players wanting to ply their trade in the most competitive league in the world.
Like you I thoroughly enjoyed the Rabbitohs Titans game. There's so many talented players in the game that even a club like Souths with a hugely talented international squad are still run close by a Titans team who play an attractive attacking form of the game with exciting players who can turn a game in a couple of moves.

The way a game is run can be off putting for fans whichever view you take, however what really matters is the quality of the play on show and the excitement it generates to spectators. The State of Origin games epitomise most of what is good about the aussie game. World class players battling it out in front of a massive crowd in the stadium and around the world. The game in Australia has strength in depth on and off the field.

Must leave it there as the Broncos v Tigers game has just started!
That's Team 12 v Team 15 in the ladder at the start of the round. I know that this won't feel like a bottom of the league clash signifying nothing as there's a host of top class players taking the field.

Edited by G Las D, 17 June 2013 - 09:46 AM.

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#3 DeadShotKeen

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 12:01 PM

Thanks GLD, a good read and some interesting points there. Yes we are a little apart in respect of why we've been drawn to NRL (I, for example, would happily accept the drop off in quality and devote to SL if it was franchised, well-balanced and expansionist) and I also can't help but feel that some of your views are a little contradictory, however each to their own.

I did hear the Eels thing and in most regards I support it. The club have to make encouraging noises to their fanbase and you would hope the ditched players would have enough pride and commitment to try to earn their next contract and prove their management wrong, whilst still earning their corn. Playing in such a good league should always be a blessing and being told your contract is up (even in public and ahead of time) never genuinely be deemed as any sort of failure.

Anyway, 4 (!) games watched this weekend just gone, all quality. More of the same next weekend please....

#4 thirteenthman

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 02:11 PM

(1) I note that the player movement system is similar to ours in that players out of contract at season end tend to sign new contracts with new clubs mid-season but move only at the start of the next season. Is there also a mechanism for players under contract to move right away? A frustration of mine with Super League was that despite the salary cap acting as a leveling measure of sorts, the small number of clubs with the financial clout to do so could replace a departed or retired player or plug a cap hole by paying a transfer fee to pick off a smaller rival's top player mid-season and field them right away. I can't see anything to suggest this happens in NRL but info on the web has eluded me.

Also, has there ever been the suggestion of player trades under contract as happens in the US leagues? That's something I would support for rugby league but seems to have eluded NRL thus far.

 

Players can move mid season, but it's usually when there's been some sort of fall out at their club (Jamie Soward at St George the most recent example).

 

As for players trades, well I'm not into American sports at all so I'm not sure how that works, but back in 1991 the NSWRL brought in a draft system to go alongside a salary cap. It basically fell apart because the players didn't like it. Most clubs entered into deals so players ended up where they wanted to go, apart from the Roosters coach at the time who decided to pick Terry Hill. He wanted to join Wests but was drafted to the Roosters instead, and he took it to court. The players association fought the draft on restraint of trade, they won the case and the draft was out. Terry Hill finally got his move to Wests, but within a couple of years he'd moved to Manly.

 

Talk of a draft comes up from time to time, but the players usually pour cold water on it. Aussie Rules runs what appears to my eyes at least to be a very succesful draft system, but RL players are completely opposed to one.



#5 DeadShotKeen

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 07:40 PM

Interesting stuff.

Much as I love the NBA draft system, I don't advocate that for Europe or Australia. The college sport system in the US is so uniquely vast and well-developed and their sides essentially professional outfits in every department other than remunerating players that it basically makes perfect sense for the pro leagues to use them as willing feeder teams for their professional sports rather than run their own academies. This obviously frees up a lot of revenue for said pro sides and also creates a brilliant leveling measure, not to mention a great night of TV viewing with the drama and anticipation of draft night.

The only downside is that there is obviously the arbitrary nature of a kid from, say, Miami being selected to play for Portland on the other side of the country or vice versa. Whilst not a huge problem in itself (players don't always stay local in any system), a series of academies in Europe and Aus would help to give fixtures a more local edge. In a franchised league it's good to think that games between Hull (a merged side) and Leeds or Brisbane and Melbourne, for example, would generally have a spine of local kids on display thus giving the games a bit more authenticity and bite. You would need the franchising element though IMHO to ensure that the bulk of said kids do stay local rather than bolting for the brighter lights. So this is where the non-US leagues can steal a march on the US and be a little more "pure" and I would imagine the Aus teams do pretty much have this now (although I'm speculating).

The one thing we should all borrow from the US system, however, is linking sport more directly to education. It would be terrific if such academy players were given education at a nearby college alongside their playing contract, thus equipping them for life after RL and also making the RL career more attractive in general. Does this take place in NRL at all?

Edited by DeadShotKeen, 19 June 2013 - 07:43 PM.


#6 Bourbon Rat

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 09:31 AM

Thought I'd throw this into your thread rather than start a new one OK

Suspend NRL games during State of Origin - The bellyache view


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#7 G Las D

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 10:05 PM

Surely that's much too much like common sense to stand any chance of happening BR.


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#8 Bourbon Rat

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 12:18 PM

Hmm ? 'Common sense' ? This would appear to be an undiscovered country to the Sydney centric ARLC,


Edited by Bourbon Rat, 12 July 2013 - 10:37 PM.

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#9 thirteenthman

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 12:41 PM

Listening to 2GB this morning, they had Tommy Raudonikis as a guest. They were discussing an idea to have Origin run over 3 consecutive weekends with the NRL suspended for the duration. The question was asked what would all the players not involved in Origin do for those 3 weeks, to which Tommy replied "Get on the grog". I'm sure a lot of the players would be in favour of that one.  :biggrin:



#10 808tone

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 10:01 PM

Loved the ARL before SL war and got back into it around 2003 when it seemed to boom again but the last few years esp this season the game seems to be going backwards yet SOO in the last few years has got bigger but not better.

Sick of the Aussie attitude that A-League Soccer will take over as Australia is one of the few countries on Planet Earth where Soccer was an after thought.



#11 OzWelsh

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 11:35 PM

A-League?  Lol.  RL will be the No.1 sport in NSW throughout our lifetime buddy.  And probably for the whole history of NSW.  Don't know where you've got that from Bally.  In each wk of the NRL you'll get 1 brilliant match, 1 bad one, most will be somewhere in the middle.


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#12 DiddyDave

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 05:57 AM

Yes,however I had the misfortune to attend one of the worst games I`ve ever been to yesterday,Titans v Tigers,the visitors completely bereft of ideas and application. Think they`re already in Mad Monday mode and a bloody disgrace to the game and their long suffering supporters. They just didn`t want to be there and I feel sorry for Mick Potter if that`s what he has to work with next season,bar Benji and Ayshford who are two that I know of off to pastures new (good riddance). The Titans weren`t much better,but it wasn`t their fault that their opponents were so pathetic. Cost me the best part eighty bucks too for me and the better half,so think I`ll be going along to Queensland and Bycroft Cup matches from now on,not as good players maybe,but no show ponies like this Tigers lot of has beens and pretenders. Don`t know how they`ve got the gall to pick up their pay after that,but you won`t be conning me again.

#13 OzWelsh

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 12:21 PM

Yes,however I had the misfortune to attend one of the worst games I`ve ever been to yesterday,Titans v Tigers,the visitors completely bereft of ideas and application. Think they`re already in Mad Monday mode and a bloody disgrace to the game and their long suffering supporters. They just didn`t want to be there and I feel sorry for Mick Potter if that`s what he has to work with next season,bar Benji and Ayshford who are two that I know of off to pastures new (good riddance). The Titans weren`t much better,but it wasn`t their fault that their opponents were so pathetic. Cost me the best part eighty bucks too for me and the better half,so think I`ll be going along to Queensland and Bycroft Cup matches from now on,not as good players maybe,but no show ponies like this Tigers lot of has beens and pretenders. Don`t know how they`ve got the gall to pick up their pay after that,but you won`t be conning me again.

Obviously I'm sorry you feel that way, but by going you are supporting the game, I was very disappointed with the crowd number at Skilled Park yesterday, if more went it raises intensity, and would result in a better match, and obviously a better atmosphere.  It would be a better look on TV too.  Look at the crowds some other sports get, and IMO the awful product they serve up on the pitch.  It seems as if some AFL and soccer teams could put cardboard cut-outs on the park and they'd still get a crowd.  Have to look at the bigger picture.


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#14 808tone

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 12:18 PM

Wish the Gold Coast fans would come back but it must be a ticket price issue.



#15 DiddyDave

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 01:16 AM

Well,I`ve been going to Titans games since the 2008 season and they`ve never had good support,though I must confess they used to have a lot more people than goes along now. A lot of people complain about the cost of food and drink while they`re there and it`s a valid point,but,then again,have something to eat/drink before you go! The thing that annoys me so much,and I guess it`s an age thing,is the constant stupid,loud music and overbearing ads that they put on every time there`s a break in play. It`s horrendous and completely unnecessary,but Australia`s suffocating with advertising and it only goes to show how brain washed we all are as to why we put up with it. Maybe it is the cost of tickets that puts a lot off,but unfortunately I believe the cost of playing there is horrendous if stories of how much the ill fated soccer team were paying were true. Oh well,the Warriors will be here in a couple of weeks,so they should get an almost full house for that game assuming the Kiwi team are still playing well.  



#16 Mr Wind Up

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 02:15 AM

On the pitch NRL is superior, but as a product it sometimes fails miserably. I mean, they have plenty of games where more than half the stadium is empty. NBA of rugby league doesn't quite describe it. Many SL games have much superior atmospheres. 



#17 walter sobchak

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 04:20 PM

Well,I`ve been going to Titans games since the 2008 season and they`ve never had good support,though I must confess they used to have a lot more people than goes along now. A lot of people complain about the cost of food and drink while they`re there and it`s a valid point,but,then again,have something to eat/drink before you go! The thing that annoys me so much,and I guess it`s an age thing,is the constant stupid,loud music and overbearing ads that they put on every time there`s a break in play. It`s horrendous and completely unnecessary,but Australia`s suffocating with advertising and it only goes to show how brain washed we all are as to why we put up with it. Maybe it is the cost of tickets that puts a lot off,but unfortunately I believe the cost of playing there is horrendous if stories of how much the ill fated soccer team were paying were true. Oh well,the Warriors will be here in a couple of weeks,so they should get an almost full house for that game assuming the Kiwi team are still playing well.

I'm not an expert on rugby league in Queensland but is there an appetite for an NRL side in the gold coast? I've heard and read about the gold coast seagulls/chargers/giants and now titans and they've always struggled both on and off the field.

#18 DiddyDave

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 12:49 AM

Fair comment Walter,I think rugby league is as as popular as any other sport up here,I guess there are too many other things to do. The poor couple of seasons they`ve just had certainly doesn`t help,but I`m sure that they`d get good support if they ever got as good as Melbourne,who,it must be said,also generally play in front of pathetic crowds.

#19 Mr Wind Up

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 02:26 AM

Fair comment Walter,I think rugby league is as as popular as any other sport up here,I guess there are too many other things to do. The poor couple of seasons they`ve just had certainly doesn`t help,but I`m sure that they`d get good support if they ever got as good as Melbourne,who,it must be said,also generally play in front of pathetic crowds.

 

2013 11 152556 13869                   2012 12 172865 14405                   2011 12 185136 15428                   2010 12 214521 17877                   2009 12 230139 19178                   2008 12 259421 21618                   2007 12 257866 21489

 

Averages seem to be declining every year. A competitive team could get anywhere between 15-20,000 I reckon. 






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