BONDI BEAT: September 2016

rlw-september-2016By STEVE MASCORD

BECAUSE next year’s World Cup is in Australia, expect officials to pull out all the stops to have as many NRL stars sprinked across the teams as possible.
The new CEO of the tournament, Andrew Hill, has been working on eligibility rules for years and walking a diplomatic tightrope in his dual roles as RLIF secretary and NRL head of integration.
In one ear, he’s had NSW and Queensland officials stridently refusing to budge on their oft-heard refrain ‘you must be Australian to play Origin’ which translates to “son, if you play for that country we won’t pick you’.
Then there’s the NRL’s own investment in the South Pacific, which would be far more useful if those countries had their best teams on the pitch.
And finally, there’s been his empathy for the objectives of the RLIF and the countries frustrated by the likes of Wayne Bennett barring Anthony Milford from representing Samoa with no reason given.
Now Hill can be a little more unequivocal – and it wills start with new eligibility rules at the end of the year.
Origin players will hopefully be permitted to represent tier two nations without changing their country of election.
(These changes don’t help the likes of, say, Scotland for this year).
And Bondi Beat expects Hill to go door to door, if necessary, to make sure as many of the world’s best players as possible are on show next October and November.
The question is whether a Tongan side full of players born in south Auckland, Penrith and Logan City – to use an example – is a threat to England’s chances.
It probably is.
Full strength Samoa, PNG, Tongan and Fiji teams on hard grounds during an Australasian spring will present Wayne Bennett with plenty of headaches.
One suspects another big part of Hill’s role will be ease the concerns of his colleagues in Fitzrovia and Red Hall.
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LAST month we reported for you how RLWC chief executive Michael Brown was forced to resign after leaving an abusive voicemail for Penrith CEO Corey Payne.
Michael was browned off that Payne – the youngest chief exec in the NRL, only a couple of years out of playing – had claimed Pepper Stadium was snubbed for a World Cup match when in fact they Panthers had demanded half a million dollars to host one.
We thought that was typically rugby league.
But the follow-up is even less likely to happen in any other sport, or indeed field of endeavour.
Payne himself has fallen out with someone or another and is no longer involved in the game! The Panthers issued a media release referring only vaguely to “overseas business interests”.
Maybe he’s buying Salford off Marwan.
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IF there’re two things rugby league fans love to moan about, it’s refereeing and the disciplinary system.
We can have match fixing and chaotic international eligibility rules and Gawd knows what else but if Johnny Appleseed got two weeks when he should have got four, the sky is falling in.
Same goes for that knock-on Warren Whistleblower failed to detect.
Here and Bond Beat Towers we try not to get caught up in such minutae. We really do. But in the last couple of weeks we have seen things get a tad daft.
First, St George Illawarra’s Welshman-cum-New South Welshman Tyson Frizell is suspended for a week for brushing a referee as he walked past.
I’d have no problem with that on its own. We don’t want to go the way of soccer in this area. But the way it is enforced Down Under is woefully inconsistent.
Then, a couple of weeks later, Gold Coast Titan Ryan James breaks the jaw of Wests Tigers starlet James Tedesco. Sure, Tedesco was falling but James still copped a grade two careless high tackle charge.
He chose to challenge, as is his right.
After he is found guilty, he and his counsel take a deep breath and begin to gather up their paper when judiciary member Royce Ayliffe says “you’ve only been found guilty”.
You mean we can still challenge the grading? Yes. And what do you know, James gets downgraded to one and doesn’t miss a match.
You touch a referee as you walk past – one week. You break a star fullback’s jaw – none. I mean, really….
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ONE of the reservations many people have about the 2021 World Cup bid from America is that it does not come from the governing body, the USARL.
But have you thought about how many national governing bodies in our game CAN afford to bid for the World Cup?
Sure, South Africa made play for next year’s tournament but they used an external consultant with soccer experience all the way, Chris Botes, and basically just stood alongside him and nodded.
Even Leagues with the right business acumen in their ranks probably wouldn’t be able to attract the requisite government support
Steve Williams is the communications manager for the USARL. He recently told my Kiwi colleague: “We do not have any affiliation with Jason Moore.
“We weren’t consulted about the actual bid. This was a bid submitted to the international federation.
“We’re happy to partner with anybody who is willing to help promote rugby league in the USA.
“That being said, we are 100 per cent an amateur, volunteer based organisation so if something like this was to come along and let’s say the international federation did embrace it, we would expect them to also provide assistance and a plan to support any type of growth that would be expected.
“You’re talking about a 350 million population so … I’d consider it unfortunate if we weren’t structured properly to funnel (the interest) into development at some level.”
The places where we need to have World Cups – Japan, mainland Europe and North America – do not have viable local leagues who can submit applications.
It’s going to come down to people like Chris Botes and Jason Moore.
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JUST quick note to wish all the best for the departed editor of this esteemed organ, Joe Whitley.
He was only a young lad but I’m sure you’ll agree his flair for design, in particular, was obvious and abundant.
Good luck in your next endeavour, old chap.
@BondiBeat

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD

FAR & WIDE: Greece, United States, World Cup,

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

IN the aftermath of our story last week about the chaos engulfing Greek rugby league, the country has been kicked out of the European Federation.
The Greeks were earlier suspended for failing to meet fixture commitments and other irregularities.
Now the RLEF has announced: “The RLEF Board has formally expelled the Hellenic Federation of Rugby League from its membership after a four-month suspension period.
“During that time the HFRL was asked to establish its membership and youth programme, comply with financial audit requirements, and answer allegations of misappropriation of funds and maladministration of the sport.
“On 2 August the RLEF, invoking Article 18 of its constitution, wrote to the Hellenic Federation informing them of their expulsion and requested HFRL’s withdrawal from the membership by 9 August, which the Greek body confirmed in writing yesterday.
“In April 2016, the RLEF membership voted 33-1 in favour of the resolution to suspend the Hellenic Federation, for wilfully acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the overall governing body and international rugby league.”
The truth of the matter is that the sanctions are really aimed at one official: Tasos Pantazidis. Far and Wide does not suggest Pantazidis misappropriated funds but clubs have rebelled against his administration and the RLEF has effectively sided with those clubs by expelling Greece.
The RLEF now wants to run its own Greek competitions and is advertising for players.
Pantazidis has affiliated with the Modern Pentathlon authorities in Greece and, as far as we know, plans to continue running rugby league as well.
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SINCE last week we’ve has a long-ish chat with Jason Moore, the Australian promoter who wants to take the 2021 World Cup to the US, and came away impressed.
World Cup ebay
We’ll share some of the key elements of what he had to say in a future feature but I asked him whether it would be such a bad thing if they were passed over this time and got the 2025 tournament.
“It’s almost like ‘shut the gate, the horse has bolted’,” he argued. “This is a golden opportunity for rugby league.
“It may be a once in a generation/lifetime scenario.”
The rugby union World Cup basically can’t come here before 2023. It would be a great piece of rugby league global marketing to get in ahead of that.
“But also it has to be the dominant rugby code in the United States because of the hosting of the World Cup.
“And it’s also the RLIF should consider as a bold statement.”
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DANISH winger Mads Hansen scored a hat-trick as Denmark took out the Nordic Cup match against Sweden 50-18. The trophy had already been secured by Norway.
That Tri-Series we told you about last week has also kicked off, with Belgium downing Germany 26-12 at Mendesportanlage.