CEO's Conference outlines 2010 events

The Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars game at the Gold Coast on February 13 is on track to deliver $1.5million to community programmes in 2010 with less than 2,000 tickets available for public sale.

The second day of the annual NRL Chief Executives Conference was told that as well as providing a spectacular start to the 2010 season that will feature the biggest names in Rugby League, the All Stars match would deliver significant benefits to community programmes.

“The All Stars match is an important statement about the season ahead and it has already captured the imagination of players and fans,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said.

“Seventeen thousand fans voted for the Indigenous All Stars and already more than 10,000 have been a part of the NRL team voting, which is still underway through NRL.com.

“The money generated will be audited against community programmes with at least half the amount targeting indigenous areas.

“It represents an important commitment from clubs and players and will be a great start to 2010.”

Rugby League’s One Community programme today outlined its partnerships with Life Education, Rugby League Reads and Eat Well, Play Well, Stay Well.

One Community will promote a game-wide message of ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’ as it launches new charity partnerships later this month as well as a calendar of events that will help co-ordinate the community efforts of all clubs and all parts of the game under the One Community banner.

NRL Director of Community Relations, Mrs Trish Crews, put forward a detailed season calendar that will see the Community Carnival kick-off in Western Sydney in a week-long build-up to the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars game.

“All four western Sydney-based NRL clubs, the Panthers, Eels, Wests Tigers and the Bulldogs, will help launch the Community Carnival in Western Sydney,” Mrs Crews said.

“It’s an area in which Rugby League plays an important community role.

“The carnival will also see clubs travel throughout regional Australia.

“The 2009 One Community Awards have underlined the amazing work that is taking place in Rugby League and there is a real commitment to us continuing to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

“Each club has its own community programme and brand but we are all trying to make the same positive difference in people’s lives and we are all a part of the ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’ message.”

Clubs today also confirmed that the McIntyre system should be retained in its current form for 2010.

There was a unanimous view that the system provides the Minor Premiers with the clear advantage of being protected from elimination in Week One of the finals, in playing the lowest ranked team and in receiving a home game. This is in addition to $100,000 in prizemoney.

While there was some discussion as to whether the Minor Premier should retain the home ground advantage regardless whether the team win or loses in Week One, it was agreed that the current system of rewarding the teams that win with ‘home team’ status the next week be retained.

There were numerous examples put forward of how any change to this aspect of the system would disadvantage teams that finish outside of the top two but who win each of their finals matches.

“The years of the McIntyre system have coincided with some of the best finals series in the game’s history,” Mr Gallop said.

“There are always points of debate but sometimes you have to stand back and look at the whole picture and the system has served Rugby League well.”

While it is not tied to the structure of the system itself, there was debate around whether clubs in the top four should be able to retain the right to play at their home ground in Week One of the finals.

There was unanimous agreement that teams from out of Sydney should always have the right to play at home grounds in Week One.

That in turn raised the fairness of any move to take away the rights of Sydney club members and players to also be guaranteed a ‘home game’ in Week One.

“Nothing will stop a club making the decision to move a home finals match if they choose,” Mr Gallop said.

“However, the idea of the NRL telling members and players that ‘You have spent 26 weeks to win the right to a home final, but we are going to simply take it off you’, is not something that we believe the NRL should do.

“Until we reach a point where demand is such that we move away from home finals in Week One completely, and that is clearly not the case at the moment, I don’t believe we can target some clubs, their players and fans, and not others.”

A review of the Toyota Cup playing trends showed the success the competition is having in developing the professionalism of players.

All players who debuted in the NRL aged 21 in 2009 had been through the Toyota Cup at some stage, with 65 players from the 2009 Toyota Cup competition now included in the top 25 list at NRL clubs for 2010.

“One of the really pleasing aspects is that just four per cent of players actually leave the Toyota Cup without going on to play somewhere else in Rugby League,” Chairman of the Toyota Cup Committee, Mr Brian Canavan, said today.

“The Toyota Cup has helped both the NRL and state-based competitions in developing talent.

“The progression from schools competitions to the Toyota Cup and professional football is unique in Australian sport.

“The Toyota Cup’s no work/study no play policy and mandated non-training hours are really changing the way athletes come into our game and the clubs today have endorsed their complete support of those principles.”

The importance of the NSW Cup was also underlined at today’s meeting with Melbourne and the Bulldogs each a part of this year’s competition.

NSWRL General Manager, Mr Geoff Carr, said that there were further moves to bring Manly and Canberra back into the competition in 2011:

‘The NSW Competition remains the oldest competition in the game.

“It’s really important that we grow its status as an elite open-age competition.

“Certainly the clubs that we have spoken to understand the importance of it and I have no doubt that over the next two years we will see it grow significantly and that we will see a real interstate rivalry between it and the Queensland Cup.”