"The North Sydney Bears have 200,000 members"
Complete the 2024 NRL Rivalry Survey for the good of RUGBY LEAGUE SCIENCE
REMINDER: Please complete the 2024 NRL RIVALRY SURVEY.
You’ve got until I get three more Titans and three more Dolphins fan responses, or until I get tired of asking, to get your responses in. I think I need at least 10 to get a good vibe for how your team’s fans see the league but we’ve got enough responses from a diverse enough audience now to understand how the rest of the league sees your team.
In addition to the Broncos, Cowboys and Eels, there are another half dozen clubs within shooting distance of that goal. As for the Dragons and Bulldogs, I hope your club folds.
Thank you in advance.
An addendum to Peter the Great the Short
The same day the previous newsletter dropped, Peter V’Landys demonstrated his deep understanding of rugby league on Triple M:
I don’t know why Wayne wants to get on a loser. He’s normally a winning coach - why he would want to go and coach against Australia is beyond me.
Readers will know the following facts:
New Zealand are the reigning Pacific champions, having defeated Australia last year, 30-0, in the worst loss in Kangaroos history, and are the only country other than Australian to have won an able-bodied World Cup since 1972.
Bennett has coached New Zealand previously, as an assistant in their 2008 World Cup win, and has coached England previously, most notably in the 2017 World Cup final that England lost 6-0 to a Kangaroos side that featured Aaron Woods.
Bennett has coached losers before, e.g. the Newcastle Knights from 2012 to 2014 and the 2019 Great Britain Lions. Both were hilarious.
The NZRL backs the ARLC in everything, never seems to get much in the way of money depsite NZ being about 20% of the broadcast deal and this is how you repay their loyalty? A limp lettuce leaf to the face?
Peter V’Landys is just shockingly bad at this. Whether its the AFL or rugby union or New Zealand or Victoria or Western Australia or Dom Perrottet, the guy has no juice. The same half dozen lamewads lap it up, add their fire/eyes emojis and act like they have to harness his fractured take on modern life. I would suggest he hire a writer to punch up his zingers but that would cost money.
Then again, maybe he can spend some of his payrise on it? The NRL clubs and states will this month vote on a request from the Australian Rugby League Commission to increase the maximum aggregate remuneration for its directors by $450,000.
I note that it was very carefully noted to be an increase to “the maximum aggregate remuneration”. While players are packaged up as million-dollar men with the minor detail that’s over three years behind the paywall, this money is very clearly not just going to Peter V’Landys, it’s for ALL the commissioners, even though the money clearly is going to V’Landys because Andrew Webster’s favourite source - unnamed people - believe V’Landys needs to be paid more. One presumes this is for his investment acumen and not at all for his penchant for shovelling cash into the mediocrity furnace under the NRL clubs. Despite already having another full time job, the NRL clubs will probably pass it. The state bodies should vote against. Where’s the Clydesdales’ money, you bums?
In the interests of balance, I sympathise with V’Landys for having to spend any time with Buzz Rothfield and enduring Rothfield’s painful attempts to insinuate that they are close, personal friends in a bid to maintain any relevance as his core audience meets their respective makers.
To save you time, I will give you the gist below but to make it interesting, we’ll play a game where you try to pick which bits are quotes from the highly problematic 1993 action-thriller, Rising Sun, starring Wesley Snipes and Sean Connery, and which are actual quotes from the interview.
Buzz: Peter, my friend, I recall a summer moonlit evening we spent together following a horse race that I attended at no personal expense but I did not disclose this in what passes for my journalistic-style output. We were in a fairly priced but in no way cheap takeout shop, Sweet Caroline was playing and I asked “Is this your greatest achievement as an administrator?” and you said to me, “The Japanese have a saying, ‘Fix the problem, not the blame.’” Some [unfathomable insult from 40 years ago] reckon you’re wrong about that. They also think you dress like shit. What do you have to say to them?
V’Landys: Thanks for the question, it’s nice to be the best looking person in the room for a change. I say the only way to find a solution is to find out what's fucked up and fix it. Nobody gets blamed. We're always after who fucked up. Their way is better. The North Sydney Bears have 200,000 members1 and they are old.
Buzz: I plainly think Abdo sucks, the only correct opinion I have, but you’re going to ignore that because of the fawning way I phrase my question. What do you think?
V’Landys: Andrew’s doing a great job. He has his weaknesses but I say to Andrew when he gets in trouble, I will say, “Perhaps I can be of assistance?” From then on, I do the talking. He stands behind me. And doesn't appear distracted. We may come from a fragmented, MTV rap-video culture, but they do not. Every aspect of his appearance and behavior will reflect on him, the League, and me as his sempai. But the game is very fortunate to have him.
Buzz: This is a two-parter. Nick Politis: smartest man in Australia or the world? And the NRL seems to be doing better than the absolutely worst run professional sports in Australia. How proud are you of clearing the incredibly low bar set by the A-League and rugby union?
V’Landys: Nick is a very clever man. He thinks the NRL should have 20 teams. PNG is the favourite to be the 18th. I think you’ve got to listen to a successful businessman with his rugby league knowledge. When I met Nick just before joining the board, I said, “The sempai is the senior man who guides the junior man, the kohai. In Japan, the sempai-kohai relationship is presumed to exist when the younger man and the older man work together. Hopefully, they will presume that of us.” We’re buying another 46 hotels.
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ESPN had a good long read, providing more depth on what CTE is known to be, what is unknown and how much is miscommunication via the media:
Even as the BU group dominates CTE research, one pervasive truth remains, which the researchers readily admit: Their work suffers from a "tremendous selection bias." It's built on a select sample of football players who reached the very highest level of the sport; a specific set of NFL players who, years after they retired, were so cognitively addled that their families donated their brains for study.
I’ve long wondered about this specifically and it seems we don’t have a lot of answers yet, unless you listen to the researchers in the big pocket of Big Football, which it turns out really exist and aren’t just a joke. That makes me quite sad, but not surprised.
The links between CTE and suicide and other mental health conditions are not as established as supposed, and the misguided sense of inevitability of CTE can be blamed for other underlying health issues.
The irony is that this uncertainty means that the risk for players of collision sports is not at all clear, and so arguing players know what they’re getting into when they take the field is wrong. At the same time, you can make yourself feel better than watching the NRL isn’t instantly consigning everyone to a death sentence (or maybe it is!).
And then some people, like Elijah Taylor, are just
nuts in need of help.
Under the new rule change, [junior or senior community-level] players showing any symptoms of concussion won’t be allowed to play for a minimum of three weeks or train for two weeks.
People are definitely going to be normal about this.
Great quote: “I have never been concussed but I have seen a few people get concussed and it doesn’t look great at all.”
I have been concussed several times and can confirm it’s not a picnic. When I was a club cyclist, one of my friends had very bad accidents in back-to-back weekends while racing. He, an engineering academic, turned up to the cafe in the week following the second one and was slurring his speech. I, then about 20, told him to go home. He recovered but I, now 36, think about that any time I wonder if I, an engineer with two kids and a mortgage, should get back into crit racing.
I also remember being a space cadet for about two weeks after an accident with a car while riding circa 2012. If struggling to do my computer-based desk job is hard enough, I can’t imagine trying to have hand-eye coordination in a much riskier situation is at all easier. I took the day of the accident off but went back to work the next day, assumed I was fine, and didn’t say anything or really understand what was going on internally. At least things have changed for the better in that regard.
QRL annual report
Are there three sweeter words in the English language? Yes, because annual reports are only sometimes interesting. Here’s the link and here are the headlines:
$283k loss on the year, improved on $1.2m loss last year. There was an acknowledgement that this is the first year in a while that a season in SEQ has been played without weather or covid disruptions. There’s been a drawdown on cash on hand but there’s still $9m in the bank. Total revenue was just under $40m, up on $34.6m the previous year.
Participation is up across the board, although the report doesn’t separate out senior male participation. If there’s a decline in that segment, that may be hidden behind the 10% growth in female participation. We’re coming up on 6 years since the start of the NRLW, and if participation has grown 10% pa that whole time, the player pool will have nearly doubled in size. It doesn’t seem like it’ll slow any time soon.
“The Game I men’s release was the top read item in the entire NRL Digital Network for the year.” The five most viewed pieces on QRL.com were the five Origin team list announcements. There were a total of 1.8m unique views. Seems to be a lot of growth in QCup content, albeit off a low base.
Streaming was up 50% in minutes viewed and 75% in total views, although most of that was me watching five games at once. The average “viewership” - no clarity on what that means - for the feature games increased from 10.6k to 17.6k. The Tigers-Caps prelim drew 33.2k and the grand final averaged 83k with a peak of 193k - that’s not too bad for a Fox-only non-NRL brodcast but a lot more people would’ve been reached with Nine or The Matty Johns Show.
Replacement for Qplus announced when?2
Overall, looks pretty healthy, although you wouldn’t expect anything else, and not too much of excitement. There’s more detail in there, including lots of stuff at the community level that I never cover here, and it’s worth a scroll before you forget about the U17 City-Country clash for another 12 months.
I normally don’t get too excited about the coaches’ survey - annual reports are more my thing - but this was interesting:
NRL supercoach Wayne Bennett has backed a high-powered push by the coaches for an 18th licence to be handed to Perth.
News Corp’s exclusive annual poll of NRL coaches has revealed overwhelming support for the code to expand to Western Australia – not Papua New Guinea or the Pacific – as part of a proposed 18-team league.
Perth won the coaches survey in a landslide with 50 per cent of votes, well ahead of rival bids from PNG (13 per cent), Pasifika (3 per cent) and a second New Zealand outfit (13 per cent).
The confidential survey, encompassing the views of the code’s sharpest tacticians, has encouraged the ARL Commission to give the sport a genuine national footprint by going west to Perth.
The key words are italicised but a good third of the article is handed over to the cause. This is in the Murdoch papers, which is one channel through which various stakeholders communicate with each other without actually saying it out loud. There’s a couple of seeds of ideas I’d like to plant:
News, like Fox and Nine, does not want to have to do the broadcast shit from PNG, Fiji or wherever. It’s just going to be expensive and cumbersome and most Australians don’t really want to go to those places, except for a few sanitised resorts in the nicer parts of the Pacific or they’re on a resources ticket. This could be a subtle hint to start steering the ARLC west because, in the rush to get priapic over the thought of projecting Australian power in the South Pacific, the broadcasters have been oddly quiet and stranger still, no one has picked up their cause.
Alternatively, the ARLC is pivoting away from the Pacific Solution either because of a lack of interest, they’ve come to their senses or they’re trying to apply more pressure to the government to give the ARLC more of what they want. This seems unlikely given Peter the Great the Short’s interview with Buzz Rothfield.
The coaches’ survey, by definition, doesn’t have a huge sample size. In fact, my guess is they got 30 responses, based on the smallest responses being 3% and 7%. So let’s toss it to tens of thousands of fans:
It means nothing.
While that was positive for Abdo, the vast majority of coaches insist they are not consulted enough by head office, nor do they receive enough support.
Lol, no one in their right mind would consult you bunch of hypercompetitive weirdos.
Abdo wants that to change and has vowed to work more closely with the coaches to ease their concerns.
Mackay won the first match of the Pacifique Treize tour, 18-16. The Treize (red shirts) were up 10 in the first half and based on 4m44s of highlights, look at least the athletic equals of a team that went 3-3 in last year’s Cyril Connell.
The coroner’s inquest into Keith Titmuss’ death makes for sad reading. I avoid dealing in tragedy in this newsletters, because there’s plenty of that elsewhere, but the details revealed suggest this was avoidable. I have some thoughts but the inquest has another week or so to run, so I’ll wait for the final verdict before sharing. I can’t imagine the outcome is going to be good for Manly, as the PCBU, but I think its unlikely anyone is going to jail for industrial manslaughter.
Ezra Mam extends to 2029. That’s a five year deal, contrary to what Pete Badel had mostly reported (some of his reporting was confused as to the length of the deal). Don’t care about the dollars because Ezra rules and I won’t hear a bad word about him (unless he does something bad).
NRL rejects QRL funding request for Queensland’s pre-season State of Origin camp. This is barely a story but when you put together multiple requests for funding (Clydesdales, last year’s bid for extra funding to have the Titans and Cowboys in QCup, this), each being denied by the Abdobot, and PtGtS’ desire to “save” country footy by looking at direct funding of QRL and NSWRL clubs3, there’s some tension. Perhaps the NRL/ARLC will go around the state bodies to make them less relevant and buy the loyalty of the clubs but I would hope the clubs understand that head office doesn’t care about them and never has. It’s still not really clear to me why the NRL is at war with the state bodies anyway. PVL could eliminate 10% of my criticism by simply giving the QRL another $10 million per year. It's a good deal.
Ballin to join Maroons coaching team as Slater pays tribute to Smith. Surely only a matter of time until Ballin starts popping up on the coaching radar for NRL gigs
China Polata and Krystal Blackwell have re-signed for two seasons running through 2025, while the Cowboys have exercised one-year options for half Tahlulah Tillett and fullback Fran Goldthorp for 2024
Haven’t heard much from Coorparoo on their bid to join the NRL, especially since Shane Richardson departed for the other Tigers.
Adam Cook has left Mackay for the big city lights of Canberra. Krystal Blackwell and Pani Rupapere sign for the Cutters. Kelsey Parkin and Narikah Orchard sign for the Tigers. Jesse Jennings signs for the Capras.
Elite 1 might be re-branding as Top 13? Not clear what this means in practice but it will make it a lot harder to google.
He meant fans, per North Sydney’s survey that no one has ever seen, and it’s a number that seems to be subject to CPI.
NSWRL.tv is live, is not just a Facebook stream, is running on Vimeo as a platform with an app with a(n odd) selection of games available for viewing. Maybe Qplus.tv will follow suit, maybe not.
The only worthwhile note out of that very silly interview above: “I’m also looking at some direct funding for some of the country clubs. The NSWRL and QRL run the competitions, but they don’t fund the clubs. I want to change that. Even money for registrations, insurance, footballs and jumpers.”