BONDI BEAT: July 2013

RLW July 2013By STEVE MASCORD
NEXT year’s World Club Challenge in Perth? Someone should hurry up and tell Perth about it.
Normally reliable Bondi Beat sources have informed us the most isolated city in the world outside of Siberia is just about nailed on for the first WCC in Australia since 1994.
But John Sackson, the CEO of the WARL, tells us: “If an event of that magnitude was going to take place in Perth next year, I would say negotiations would be well under way.
“And aside from Gary Hetherington throwing up Perth at some stage, I haven’t heard a whisper.
“They’d need to be talking the West Australian Events Corporation, they’d need to be talking to nib Stadium and maybe other venues and I hope they’d be talking to us.
“I haven’t heard a whisper. WCC in Perth? Very doubtful if you ask me.”
All of which suggests two possibilities. One, we’re going to have a one off in the north of England for the fifteenth consecutive year or two, we’re doing things by the seat of our pants as usual.
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“I’M Welsh. Does that make me a pom?”
With that, former Harlequins and Saracens chief executive Mark Evans introduced himself to the Melbourne media as the new boss of the world champion Storm – and the World Cup lost a consultant.
Evans has been appointed by Bart Campbell, a London-based New Zealander who will be the new majority shareholder of our greatest club side.
But amid all the business related questions at the media conference on May 21, there were others like “do you feel the Purple Pride?” – a good sign I guess from reporters who usually cover religion (ie: AFL).
Are you just bringing outsiders, they wanted to know – conveniently overlooking the fact that only one Victorian has ever played for the Storm.
Hence Evans’ question back to a reporter. “Well, it makes you British,” she responded.
“Right, I’m British. I’m the only Brit. Everybody else is Australasian including Melbournians. Is that how you say it?”
Having watched a live feed of the press conference on my Ustream channel (sorry about the plug!), one fan commented that Evans needed to learn how to say Melbourne.
It’s not “Mell born”, it’s “Melbin”
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IT was gratifying to see the Rugby Football League’s Blake Solly reveal that what we suggested in last week’s column – a marquee player system for Super League – is under consideration.
The question now is: who would these marquee players be and which clubs would sign them?
I am sure Salford, whose owner has already vowed to cheat the cap, would be one. Although perhaps he means a “marquee player” in the Melbourne Storm sense, where funds for the hire of a tent are funnelled into players’ bank accounts.
Wigan could afford one, Leeds could afford one, Warrington, maybe Saints … who else?
Personally, I hope the system is introduced in time for North Queensland’s mercurial Matt Bowen to be a beneficiary. Why Warrington went cold on him, I’m not too sure.
But I reckon he’d be a hit in a town famous for outstanding Australian imports.
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OK, I have a little bit of info about some warm up games that are due to be held the week before the World Cup kicks off in October.
Expect France to host the United States, England to take on Italy, Wales to tussle with Tonga and Fiji to clash with one of rugby league’s top countries, Rochdale.
Australia don’t believe they need a warm up. The Kiwis do, but there’s still no news on an opponent.
The World Cup remains a niche event among rugby league fans but I know plenty who are going or are trying to arrange the journey.
Aaron Wallace, the stats man who so superbly briefs the Fox Spots commentators, has never been the UK and is hiring a campervan to ferry himself and his girlfriend from match to match.
He might have a passenger at times….
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BENJI Marshall is such a big name in Sydney that his wife has a Sunday newspaper column.
So you can imagine the uproar back in round 10 when he was dropped to the bench for the match against South Sydney.
Add that to the fact he has a column in the Sydney broadsheet the Herald and doesn’t say much to the tabloid Telegraph and you have an idea of the level of interest in his dramatic fall from grace
But the whole thing could be played out again come October and November.
Marshall was relieved of the Kiwis captaincy during the pre-season and it’s not impossible to imagine Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson keeping him out of the New Zealand side at some stage of the tournament.
Such a scenario would put Bondi Beat in mind of the 199five World Cup, when Gary Freeman was dropped and sulked on a bus at training.
One of Sydney’s favourite soap operas, coming to a field near you.
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THIS is not a joke, people have suggested it as a serious promotion.
There are those who want the Burgess brothers – Sam, Tom, Luke and George, to engage in what is known colloquially as a game of “backyard footy” with the Sims boys – Ashton, Tariq and Corbin.
In fact, it was North Queensland back rower Tariq who came up with the idea.
“Dead-set, if we can get that to happen, I would love it. We could do it for charity – it would be awesome,” Tariq said in the lead-up to the City-Country game.
Of course, the Englishmen would have a numerical advantage – something that could be remedied by adding Ruan Sims, who plays for the Australian womens’ team.
She recalled on a recent television appearance that one night a week, the four of them were allowed to wrestle in the loungeroom.
It was no holds barred but once someone cried, the bell rang.
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MORE and more NRL types are seeing the error of their ways when it comes to golden point time.
Another chip in the foundations of the controversial rule came in round 10, when Manly played a 10-10 draw with Melbourne in Melbourne. That was the score in regulation time and it was also the score after overtime but only following seven unsuccessful drop goal attempts.
According Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey, it’s all gone too far.
After 80 minutes, if it’s a draw, it’s only my personal opinion but it should be a draw,” he said. “When we’re having field goal shootouts, it’s just crazy.
“There’re 26 rounds in the competition. There’s enough football played. You want to see the guys busted and bleeding. It’s a gladiatorial sport, I know, but we’ve got to look after our players as well.”
Commentator Phill Gould agreed, writing the next day: “I was always a fan of the golden point and believed it added to the excitement of the close finish.
“However, when you witness a gladiatorial classic from two teams such as Melbourne and Manly this week, a draw and a competition point each is a fair result.”
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A FUNNY moment from the same game.
Storm winger Sisa Waqa (you’ll see him in action for Fiji in a few short months” was called inside the 10 chasing a kick and started walking off the pitch, asking a touch judge why he had been sent to the sin bin!

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD

DISCORD 2012: Edition 28

By STEVE MASCORD

IF we are still arguing over a part of the game nine years after it was introduced, is it time to get rid of it?

THE comments of Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan against golden point were even starker than those of Sydney Roosters rival Brian Smith after the 14-14 draw on Monday night.

“Mate, I hate golden point,” said Flanagan on Triple M’s Monday Night Football. “I just think the whole concept of our game, about being tough men and going forward and getting field position, just goes out the window.

“The sooner they get rid of it, the better.”

Colleague David Middleton has exposed a remarkable fact – since Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored a try in golden point time during the 2010 finals series, not one touchdown has been posted in overtime of an NRL game.

That should give administrators pause for thought.

Middleton says: “I suggest the implementation of a scoring system that works as follows: four points for a win in regular time, three points for a win in extra time, two points for a draw, one point for a loss in extra time and zero points for a loss in regular time.”

Does our game have a problem with reverting to something old when what’s new doesn’t work? Something that might be worth examining in future columns…

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THE NRL has to be very careful how they deal with Sonny Bill Williams’ return to rugby league.

If he keeps signing 12-month contracts so he can play Japanese rugby union in the offseason, others will do the same. Remember Benji Marshall trying to do likewise and being blocked by David Gallop.

I am not sure what the answer is – maybe a cooling off period between playing codes?
As for suggestions he doesn’t want to play against the Bulldogs in round one as it would put money in their pockets … please.

Steve Mortimer is right in saying SBW should be saying sorry to the club for walking out on it.

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GOOD story about Jarryd Hayne not showing up to Brookvale Oval on Sunday to watch Parramatta’s big loss to Manly.

It’s a good story because it gets people talking. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone except me.

I don’t care if he was there or not. Then again, I don’t care who wins State of Origin so I’m hardly your average rugby league fan!

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 FEEDBACK now and Steve questioned the shifting of Origin games away from Sydney and Brisbane. But I don’t think its necessary for local fans to match the passion of those in NSW and Queensland. As I’ve written in Rugby League Week this week, we can use Origin as a battering ram to get governments to fund our other objectives, like an under 20s World Cup or the World Club Challenge. Steve also said the US Rugby Union insisted that every member of their Under 20s World Cup side be US passport holders. I think that’s a great idea.

Dave 1 quoted Bill Harrigan on the Justin Hodges try. Point accepted. Then commonsense is back. There was a similar one in Monday Night Football, which was also given.

Asian NRL fan asked why there was no pushing in scrums. Basically the powers that be decided many moons ago that scrums were ugly and that the only thing they were good for was keeping six defenders out of play in one tackled out of six. So the halves were allowed to feed the ball into the second row to get the scrum over and done with. And therefore there is no point pushing because the ball has been fed in a manner that used to be illegal, although Alex Glenn did score a try from a scrum against the feed recently. The fullback and other backs pack into the scrum because they want the strongest defenders out in the defensive line. I would guess around 60 per cent of current first graders have tattoos. And no, a video-ref-free round would not be a good idea in my view as all matches should be played under identical conditions to make it a fair competition.

Mav63 talked about commercial in other countries promoting Origin. But we need to make the decision we want to promote ourselves overseas before we go and do it. We haven’t made that decision yet. And yes I agree with you – when a player makes his debut, age, junior club and international eligibility should all be announced immediately.

previous Discord columns