DISCORD 2012: Edition 31

By STEVE MASCORD
HOT on the heels of colleague Brad Walter’s excellent column about Australia picking its rugby team from all codes for the next Olympics comes the news that our game is finally going to take Nines seriously.
Super League, you’ll remember, kicked off with Nines tournaments – twice. Once in 1996, before the whole comp was banned, and again in 1997. Since then, a few dimly-lit tournaments in England with mainly reserve graders has been about the extent of it.
As Brad wrote, nines rugby league is set to be introduced to the Commonwealth Games in 2018. But Discord can reveal that a nines tournament to kick off the 2014 NRL season at Eden Park is just about nailed on, with huge prize money meaning teams will be at full strength.
Some clubs are even planning to spend extended pre-seasons in New Zealand to tie in with the tournament, forming partnerships with local councils around the country. If the tournament is held every year thenceforth, it will be a perfect lead-in to the selection of teams for the Comm’ Games on the Gold Coast and could give rise to a serious international circuit to challenge (OK, eventually….) union’s sevens.
In the meantime, if you think Australia’s Olympic “rugby” team, should be made up of more than just rahrahs, you could always tell the Australian Olympic Committee… Not that I am waging a campaign, you understand. Just sayin’…..
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IS this new captain’s challenge idea just a thinly-veiled recruitment tool for the refereeing fraternity?
Already a little light on for depth, the refs are reported to be losing a few more of their number to retirement at the end of the season. Who these are, we do not know.
But if a Toyota Cup captain keeps getting his challenges right and doesn’t make it in first grade – voila! We have a new referee. It’s like one big, sneaky job interview!
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DISCORD has been told that the October 20 game between the United States and Melbourne Storm in Philadelphia was almost  called off.
The ructions in the American game continue with would-be backer premier sports and the AMNRL falling out. A independent operator is now underwriting the venture and the game is back on.

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