The Australian Rugby League Commission has made a number of determinations regarding the structure of the 2013 season while also confirming that this year’s Test between the VB Kangaroos and the Kiwis will be played on October 13 in Townsville.
In confirming the Test venue, the Commission gave on-going support to a mid-season Test between the two nations in the context of a ‘stand-alone’ representative weekend that included City v Country.
At its meeting today at the offices of the Melbourne Storm, the ARL Commission has also determined that it will retain Wednesday night State of Origin matches.
There will be a further concentration of byes before and after Origin matches to minimise the impact on clubs while the Commission has also committed to working with the New South Wales and Queensland camps to invest in additional measures to assist player recovery.
In reaching its decision today, the Commission reviewed independent medical analysis of recovery times for athletes that included an injury database assessment of injuries incurred during and immediately after recent Origin matches.
“The success of the Harvey Norman State of Origin Series in its current format speaks for itself over a number of years”, said ARLC Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop.
“Today’s Commission meeting examined a detailed analysis of recovery times and the effect of the Origin series on the overall season structure.
“The flow-on effects of stand-alone Origins across the entire year are such that they are not a practical alternative but the addition of a representative weekend, which worked well in 2012, and of further adjustments to the byes will address a number of issues that have been raised in the past.
“The Commission has also given approval today to explore the opportunities around an increased number of Thursday night Telstra Premiership telecasts.
“This would not be on the basis of establishing a regular fixed time-slot but on the basis of establishing specific scheduling opportunities.”
Another key decision from today’s meeting was the confirmation of the appointment of corporate advisors Greenhill Caliburn to assist in television broadcast negotiations.
Initial offers from the existing rights-holders Nine and Fox Sports have already been received and negotiations have commenced with the Seven and Ten networks.
“It is a complex and critical negotiation for the game’s future and we have always flagged that we would engage additional resources where appropriate,” Mr Gallop said.
“Greenhill Caliburn have an outstanding corporate reputation and are skilled negotiators across a diverse range of business opportunities.
“We believe they can add considerable experience as we look to achieve a great return for the game.”
The decision to hold the October 13 Australia v New Zealand Test in Townsville this year will give North Queensland its first Trans-Tasman encounter as the Four Nations champions take on the reigning World Cup champions.
It reflects the success of ongoing partnerships between Rugby League and Events Queensland that have seen the All Stars, Test matches and a World Cup Final played in the ‘Sunshine State’, where Queenslanders have shown great support for international Rugby League
North Queensland has hosted three Tests between Australia and PNG in Townsville in 1992, 2000 and 2008 (World Cup) as well as a World Cup play-off match in Rockhampton in 2008.
The 2012 Test – which will kick-off at 6.30pm – is supported by the Queensland Government through Events Qld and Townsville Enterprise Limited.
“There is great support for Rugby League in North Queensland and the decision to take the only Australian-based Test of 2012 to Townsville is recognition of that support,” Mr Gallop said.
“With the World Cup in the UK only a year away there will be a real focus on the October Test this year.”
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and Commonwealth Games Jann Stuckey said the event was a tremendous coup for Townsville which would shine a national and international sporting spotlight on the region with television coverage throughout Australia and New Zealand.
“This event is part of the government’s determined strategy to establish Queensland as Australia’s leading tourism and major event destination,” Ms Stuckey said.
“More than 20,000 people are expected to attend this match – more than 40 per cent will be visitors from outside Townsville.
“That will deliver an estimated economic boost of almost $3.5 million to Townsville and more than 19,000 visitor nights supporting tourism and local jobs.”
Townsville Enterprise CEO, Mr David Kippin, said today’s announcement to host the Test match in Townsville was significant for the region.
“This international event will confirm Townsville’s established reputation as a thriving and successful events destination,” Mr Kippin said.
“It also enables the wider Region to take advantage of the flow-on opportunities for the leisure tourism market.”