The Australian Rugby League Commission is primed to hit the ground running, after officially being handed control of the game today.
In an exclusive interview with NRL.com, inaugural chairman John Grant labelled it a red letter day for rugby league, with the independent commission being officially sworn in at Rugby League Central.
The new commission is a legal restructuring of the governance of the game, a passing over of responsibility from a series of directors who occupied the three organisations of the game to eight new directors.
Essentially the new commission is three separate boards compressed into one new board.
Grant said the time taken to finalise the details has helped fully prepare the commissioners for the job at hand.
“This is a momentous day,” Grant told NRL.com.
“It has been a very thorough process and that has been good because it has shown us a lot about the game that we wouldn’t have otherwise found except through the course of time, so we are ready to go.”
“We are ready to hit the ground running. That doesn’t mean that things will change overnight - what it means is that we are better informed. All of the information that we need to start planning for the game in a holistic sense is now available to us.
“The whole administration is really keyed up and ready to go.”
The objective of the new governing body is to make sure that the game is well planned strategically and that resources and funding are available.
The day-to-day running of the game still belongs to former NRL and newly appointed Australian Rugby League Commission CEO, David Gallop.
“The board’s role is to make sure there is a strategy for the game that will ensure its ongoing value and worth to its stakeholders,” Grant said.
“To make sure that there is a set of plans in place to execute that strategy and make sure the leadership and the management is in place to do that.
“You can expect to see the commission engaged in strategic comment and strategic decisions, but the day to day stuff is for David and his team. That team includes the state teams - the Queensland Rugby League, New South Wales Rugby League and Country Rugby League.
“We are a panel of review, as well as making the ultimate decision making, but it is really up to the administration under David to do the job.”
Grant says that job will be made a lot easier by the new structure of the game.
“The previous administration has been very hamstrung by a governance or a decision making process that was convoluted and difficult,” he said.
“David and his team have been working in that environment. In the new environment the decision making gets a lot easier because you can deal with only one group of people, the process and decisions that are made will be a lot faster.
“The opportunity to react to what the market place is telling us, the opportunity to reconfigure aspects of the game for example to make it more appealing to the broadcasters, I think those opportunities are quite significant.”
John Grant on David Gallop’s role as ARLC CEO
“The game of rugby league is much broader than the NRL and its wonderful 16 teams as we all know, and through his role which lifts him up from the position of CEO of the NRL to being CEO of the Australian Rugby League Commission, he gets to work now across the whole game which includes working with the QRL, NSWRL, CRL and the affiliates throughout the rest of the country to build the game in a holistic sense, as distinct from focussing just on the NRL.”
John Grant on Rugby League Central
“It is wonderful. I think the NRL has struggled where they were located previously for identification. I think it is extremely important, obviously it is coincidental that all of the commission should form the same day the building is launched, but to have a building positioned as it is, under the shadow of the Sydney Football Stadium, at the centre of the game and bringing together all the administration of the game has a huge symbolism around it.
“There are real practical opportunities to deal with a much more efficient operation of the business and we’ll be looking at that from a practical point of view as well. I think it is a hugely exciting opportunity for the game in one place and to develop the administration in terms of what they do and how they do it in a much more sensible way.”
John Grant on the future of rugby league
“My aspiration for the game; if rugby league was the most played, the most watched and the most admired sporting game in Australia, I think that would probably be a pretty good outcome.
“A commentator in Brisbane, George Lovejoy, commentated and did radio broadcasts of the game through the '60s and '70s and he did 562 games without a break over 19 years. He closed every radio broadcast with ‘rugby league, the greatest game of all’, what more could you want from the game?”