By STEVE MASCORD
A COMPLAINT about schoolboys playing on stadia surfaces branded with alcohol advertising has forced the National Rugby League to move curtain-raisers for last night’s first grade matches and fly three NSW teams to Brisbane.
Keebra Park High and Endeavour Sports High were scheduled to play at Suncorp Stadium last night before the Brisbane-Melbourne NRL match but the ARL Commission received a complaint that advertising painted on the halfway line and each 30 metre line promoted Bundaberg Rum and was inappropriate.
Two Sydney sides, Holy Cross Ryde and Blacktown Patrician Brothers, were also due to play before the Wests Tigers-Canterbury match at ANZ Stadium last night in the other semi-final of the schools comp. Both have been moved to Ipswich on Sunday, as a curtain-raiser to Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup game between Ipswich and Redcliffe which is covered by Channel Nine, the schoolboy competition’s contracted broadcaster.
Martin Meredith of the NSW Rugby League Academy said a complaint was made around two weeks ago. He could not say who made the complaint but said the league had spent 10 days rearranging the venues in response. The Herald received conflicting reports about its origin – that the alarm was raised by a politician and that it came from a parent of one of the players.
Meredith said he was not concerned for the future of the national schoolboys competition, which in the 1980s shot the likes of Peter Sterling, Greg Alexander and Paul Langmack to stardom.
“The fact is, something good might come of it,” he said. “Hopefully their will progress made in terms of digital signage – like at the Olympics where the swimmers had the line ahead of them indicating the world record.
“We will be able to have local sponsors during the schoolboys game and then different sponsors in the NRL game.”
The final of the competition has been moved to Toyota Park on Sunday September 2. Sunday NRL games are not sponsored by alcohol companies.
An NRL spokesman said the original complaint was “irrelevant”. “We have our own very strict rules regarding junior sides and alcohol sponsorship – it’s just that no-one made this connection before,” he said.
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD