BONDI BEAT: January 2013

Rugby League World January 2013By STEVE MASCORD

ONE aspect of the ARL Commission’s moves to abolish the shoulder charge has been overlooked in all the din of resistance.

I’ve already had my say on the issue. I thought Dr Jack Kazandjian was nuts when he ran onto the field in Jacksonville and stopped an international to argue with Phil Bentham because a Jamaican player (Jamaine Wray, for memory) was concussed.

American sports were obsessed with concussion at the time. A Jamaican player told me “he doesn’t understand rugby league. Playing concussed is what we do”.

But Dr Jack was proven right. Within a year or so, his rules for concussion were more or less adopted by the NRL.

So when medicos call for the banning of the shoulder charge and we all say they’re making the game soft, I am reluctant to make the same error in judgement twice.

The medicos are usually right.

We are getting less blood-thirsty in our entertainment tastes and eventually body-contact sport will die out completely – although not until long after all of us are dead.

The point I am trying to make is that at least the ARL Commission had the good grace to say they would lobby the RLIF to outlaw the shoulder charge worldwide.

In my time, that’s a first. When it comes to rule changes, the Australian authorities previously didn’t seem to know that the RLIF exists.

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THE NRL may now be flushed with funds and ready to raid Super League but it has found a new rival – Japanese rugby union.

Wests Tigers star and New Zealand captain Benji Marshall, who has three years to run on his contract at Concord, recently asked for a release to play the next off-season (I know, we have a World Cup) in the Land Of The Rising Yen.

The request, from agent Martin Tauber, was immediately refused but Sonny Bill Williams decision to play in Japan after his deal with the NZRU expired – and then sign with Sydney Roosters when everyone knew that’s exactly what he planned – has set a dangerous precedent.

According to agents, more and more players will sign one-year deals, go to Japan, and secretly agree to return the following NRL season on another one year deal.

As I’ve written elsewhere, the antidote is simple – in exchange for the pay rise associated with the new TV deal, players should be contracted from January 1 to December 31. You talk about professionalism – denying yourself an off-season of rest and recuperation is decidedly unprofessional.

Now, there are those of you who might see this as hypocritical of me, given that my byline has been known to appear in more than one publication. Good point – but I deliberately threw away job security, holidays, sick pay and more by quitting newspapers.

So, NRL stars, if you want to play rugby union in the off-season, then maybe you should sign a match-payments-only deal with your club.

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SHOULD Brisbane and Sydney have to bid to host State Of Origin games?

ARLC chairman John Grant keeps talking about “the business” of rugby league and his commission initially wanted the states to bid for all three matches next season.

In the end, the traditional homes of the series were given one match each. The third game of 2015 was put up for tender and will probably go to Melbourne. Whether money is changing hands for the third game of any other series over the next four years has not been revealed.

In Bondi Beat’s opinion, charging for at least one match each year makes sense. Our game can make a lot of money from such arrangements.

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FIRST the shoulder charge, then the benefit of the doubt rule.

After my ABC colleague (ex-ABC colleague, I guess) Daniel Anderson was appointed referees boss recently, one of the NRL’s most controversial rules seemed to be on borrowed time.

Personally, I think benefit of the doubt is a stupid rule. As we saw with ‘The Hand Of Foran’ during the NRL finals series, it has got to the point where if there is a two per cent chance of it being a try, it’s awarded.

Referees Steve Lyons and Tony De Las Heras, touch judges David Abood and Gavin West and their bosses Stuart Raper and Bill Harrigan were all given the heave-ho at the end of last season.

I am not sure the absence of the benefit-of-the-doubt rule would have saved all of them but it would have helped some.

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HERE in magazine world, we are not in the business of plugging other magazines – unless they are online and completely free!

Congrats to the people behind ‘International’ magazine, a completely online publication that has been put out by the Rugby League Planet website and a company called Consultivity.

In past columns, we have suggested that the Rugby League International Federation should be selling memberships and publishing just such a magazine itself. Maybe Consultivity is getting in on the bottom floor and showing the RLIF what can be done.

If so, congratulations. It’s a great start and I hope the people at … well, the RLIF doesn’t have a physical address, does it …  are taking notice. Just in case, I sent a link to Scott Carter and Tas Baitieri.

The second edition of ‘International’ has Olivier Elima on the cover.

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NO, there was no pre-season Nines tournament in the NRL draw announced recently. But I am told it has already been pencilled in for 2014.

There should be an interesting tour at the end of that season, too, I am told….

Meanwhile, news that the West Coast Pirates are considering entering Super League should not have been a surprise to readers of this column. We reported it a good month before it appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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I HAD  lovely, if unexpected, end to my rugby league season.

At the end of November, Bondi Beat had the pleasure of travelling to Barcelona for the bucks weekend (on a Tuesday and Wednesday, coz we all work weekends, right) of BBC commentator David Woods.

Dave married journalists Julie Stott on November 25.

Anyway, I spotted some familiar faces boarding my RyanAir flight from Liverpool to the Catalan capital – the French team, fresh from their 48-4 pizzling by the English in the Four Nations final.

Strolling into the Barca warmth, chatting about rugby league with the aforementioned Olivier Elima – a fitting end to a year that started in freezing cold at Headingley.

I won’t call it a fitting start to the off-season – because I’m still sitting here writing this column, aren’t I?

Twitter: @BondiBeat

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUR WORLD

1 Comment

  1. Hi Steve, how can one contact you regarding Japan Rugby League touring in Jan/Feb 2013 for a one-off test against Portugal and then participating in the Cabra 9s? Thanks.

    Mark

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