The input of El Generalísimo has not been provided
Happy new year! Did you have a good off-season?
I was starting to worry I had oversold the friction between the NRL/ARLC and the QRL as being a figurative war. Then in November, as reported by Jason Gibbs at The Chronicle:
“The ARLC, as you are aware, has not approved the participation of the Western Clydesdales in the QRL Hostplus Cup and does not consider that such participation is in the best interests of the game as a whole,” NRL CEO Abdo said in a recent email to the Queensland Rugby League.
What, are the Clydesdales not funneling enough money out of vulnerable families into the pockets of shareholders of Aristocrat to be considered part of the “best interests” of the game? One can only assume the “leaked” email was forwarded with a GIF of a wanking motion. How many times does an inland Australian town need to beat Great Britain to be granted a place in the second division?
It’s almost as if a privately educated South African from one of the Big 4 consultancies perhaps doesn’t understand the finer points of Australian rugby league culture or history? That can’t be right. Look at him enjoying the under 19s Origin.
We can tell this issue isn’t actually important to the NRL because the input of El Generalísimo has not been provided. If evidence was required at this point that Abdo can’t breathe without Peter V’Landys’ say-so, you can read all 600 words of non-answer as to what 2024 has in store for the NRL, the organisation of which he is the nominal, if not practical, head.
As usual, there are a couple of ways to read the empty-calorie words provided by Abdo. One is that Abdo doesn’t know what the future plans are, his involvement in planning being wholly extraneous and so he wasn't invited to those meetings, not even to take minutes. Another is that the NRL isn’t planning to do much of anything and Il Duce couldn’t be bothered speaking to Michael Caryannis, unlike past years. V’Landys was probably using the summer as a sabbatical from losing lawsuits and incompetently running cruel sports. However, my current hypothesis is that Abdo has been replaced with a chatbot and if not, and those answers were given verbally by a person purporting to be human, then he needs to undergo a Voight-Kampff test immediately.
There’s no immediate threat to the Clydesdales, because the QRL is providing the funding and their rival clubs see the value the Dales bring. As Redcliffe’s CEO succinctly put it:
“I’m supportive of the Clydesdales,” CEO Scott Clark said.
Long time readers will be shocked to hear that there’s delays in basic administrative tasks.
“In a nutshell, it means the QRL is going to continue to fund us, but they’re not being funded by the ARLC as part of the overall funding that comes down from the ARLC for the Western Clydesdales’ participation in any competition,” club CEO Shane Sullivan said.
“The ARLC provides funding top down to the QRL and NSWRL.
“The budget that was submitted ahead of our entry in July 2022 for the 2023 season has still not been approved by the ARLC.
“They have been dragging their heels on that, and as part of the response to that budget and our submission for next year’s budget they’re saying we’re not part of their strategic thinking.”
It seems the broadcasters and the players can treat the ARLC like a pinata filled with cash and have V’Landys and his lackeys show all of the backbone of a sea cucumber, but heaven forfend a state body get additional funding for the purposes of playing more rugby league (c/o Lachlan Onions1 at The Chronicle):
Just weeks after the ARLC sensationally snubbed the Western Clydesdales, leaving the QRL in a $700,000 shortfall, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has announced plans for an NRL Combine to unearth potential rugby league talent from the United States.
Instead of supporting people who want to play the game in the actual heartland of the sport, we’re going to waste time pretending some castoffs from the University of Nevada (2-10 last year) are going to move the needle in Australia and the US. It's additional meaningful context for any time these dinguses open their mouths to talk about heartlands of the game when they really mean Sydney casinos with football teams taped to them.
I think the whole Vegas exercise is very stupid but am at least self aware enough to admit that I might have thought it was cool if delivered under the Greenberg administration, so I may just be being sour. It's hard to see this generating any meaningful return, financial or otherwise, especially after this same administration failed to capitalise on the 300 million US viewers* the NRL attracted in 2020 as the only* live sport in the world.
Maybe it is worth a shot but it doesn't need to be Vegas or the Clydesdales. It can be both for an administration that's claimed over $100 million in profit in the last two years. While $700,000 is a lot of money, it is three orders of magnitude less than the profit rendered by the NRL.
Undoubtedly framing this political skirmish as a war was heavy-handed but denying the Clydesdales funding, or approval, or whatever other rubber stamping the Abdobot is supposed to be providing must be an issue of partisanship, than practicality. Alternatively, it’s just the usual lackadaisical performance out of head office that we’ve become accustomed to since the coup of late 2019, but as we head into 20242, it’s hard to blame this on the cuts made during covid3. If it’s not ideological, then it is pathological.
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Offseason Notes from the NRL North
Ezra Mam set to sign four-year, $3 million contract extension with Brisbane Broncos - this doesn't appear to be official yet, so we'll see if this is the usual Badel prematurely going off and not worrying about being wrong, or if he's right and just early
'Bit more natural there': Walters confirms shock Farnworth centres replacement - can’t say I love this but I also didn’t coach the Broncos to a grand final last year
Cowboys have released NRLW Head Coach Ben Jeffries from his contract - not clear if he is indeed joining the Knights, as this does not appear to have been confirmed by the Knights yet, or if he’s been cut adrift for talking to the Knights
The night when the USA Tomahawks nearly beat Australia and pulled off the greatest upset in rugby league history - Kids, kids, come quick! Campo’s back and he's on his bullshit again!
Going the distance: Why short dropouts are on the rise - this is not great analysis and it sounds like some clubs are not any better. You can read the work I did in 2018 which explains why a 36% recovery rate is more than enough to justify a short dropout strategy.
The Decider was voted #29 in Bluey Fest, a Hottest 100 of Bluey episodes. Once again, a family of cartoon dogs has put rugby league in more households worldwide than any of the jackasses running the sport. Shout out to the lunatic putting an unfathomable amount of rugby-adjacent exposition in the Bluey Wiki. Cricket was voted #1, which may reflect recency bias as the last new episode to air, that sport is very popular in Australia and Bluey reflects only the very best of us back at ourselves, but also that only people north of the Tweed actually get Origin, as evidenced by the episode, and a statistically insignificant number of people follow the Wallabies, so there is necessarily a more limited pool of voters.
Adam Doueihi remains an embarrassment - don’t forget
Luai to the Tigers has plenty of potential for laughs, Olam looks like he's leaving the Sunshine Coast for Concorde as well
Pictured here, sitting on a wall
There’s a distressing number of years that I’ve been on this beat between those two numbers.
Not that anyone important with a big byline will hold them accountable for decisions made then or now.