DISCORD 2013: Edition 42

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD

WITH the NRL to give clubs $7.55 million next year and the salary cap to be $6.3 million, the question has to be asked: why doesn’t the governing body just pay the players directly?

The club grant equalling the salary cap was seen as a holy grail of the previous NRL administration and it’s a credit to the new regime that it has been realised and exceeded in such a short time.

By why do we need a middleman?

Sure, Ian Schubert and his salary cap watchdogs would still have to keep a look out for illicit payments from clubs but surely things would be a lot cleaner and enforceable if every premiership players was on the NRL’s payroll.

The clubs could then be given the balance between the wages bill and the club grant to develop their busnesses. If they wanted to pay players less than the cap, they could simply ask the NRL to do it and give them more cash.

There’d be less room for funny business. An added advantage would be the end of “club v country” debates. Terry Campese feels pressured not to go to the World Cup? “Well mate, the NRL are paying your wage and they want you fitness tested before you pull out.”

Imagine the boost to the international game if you were paid the same for Test appearances, regardless of country.

And if premiership players were the direct employees of the NRL, a whole layer of bureaucracy could be removed. Aside from playing and training they could be employed in a uniform manner for marketing, publicity, coaching and the greater good of the sport.

Their commitments outside of training and playing would be standardised and the age of coaches as tsars would end. Imagine that!

Yes, it is socialist. Discord believes pro sports need to be internally socialist and externally capitalist to succeed in this competitive environment.

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NEWS that Eddy Pettybourne has been added to the United States team is just another chapter in the colourful history of our game in the Land Of Hype And Glory.

Pettybourne qualifies due to his American Samoan grandfather. As the battle between factions in America continues over the number of “heritage” players in the Tomahawks squad, a series between Canada West and US West was played at Newport Beach at the weekend with journalist Ben Everill refereeing.

Confused? It has always been thus.

As mentioned before, a fantastic new book called No Helmets Required tells how the Americans were actually invited to the first World Cup in 1954 and almost went.

Promoter Mike Dimitro brought the American All Stars to Australia in ’53 and had people chasing him to the airport pursuing debts. He embellished the reputations of his side, none of whom had ever actually played the game before, and a small squad of 18 players was driven into the ground playing two games a week.

Afterwards he also took the All Stars to France – meaning this Saturday’s international in Toulouse is not the first between the sides. That happened at Parc des Princes 60 years ago, the French winning 31-0.

Dimitro fell out of favour with the International Board. Then, after Australia and New Zealand played exhibition games at Veterans Stadium, Long Beach, and the LA Colisseum on the way back from the first World Cup – in front of fog-affected crowds – someone else fell out of favour.

And it’s been the same ever since.

Sure, many people have been well intentioned. But rugby league was born out of a pursuit of money (if only to offset poverty) and there is nowhere that the dollar sign stands taller than in the United States.

Rugby league’s penchant for self-canibalisation is limited only by the modesty of those involved. And modesty is not America’s long-suit.

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SAD news that Sydney Roosters doctor John Orchard and NRL media man John Brady are moving on.

read on

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