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NRL beefs up second tier with $10.8m injection

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A $10.8 million funding injection by the NRL into the game's second tier will result in the return of two curtain-raisers before NRL matches and confirmation of a ''Super Bowl'' play-off on grand-final day between the NSW Cup and Queensland Cup winners.

The landmark review into rugby league's pathways has been signed off by the ARL Commission, and only needs the expected rubber-stamping by the QRL and NRL clubs before being in place for next year. Officials charged with leading the review of the second-tier pathways opted against bringing back a reserve-grade competition or making significant changes to the Holden Cup, instead deciding on the massive investment in the state leagues.

''This is very significant,'' said NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle, who led the pathways review along with head of football Todd Greenberg. ''This shows that we're very much looking at whole-of-game, and not just the 16 NRL clubs.

''There are 25 other teams now that are going to be part of the NRL system. It's a real significant step for us to put $10.8 million into the competition at that level to enhance that competition, to raise the standards, whether it be facilities or medical standards. It's a real investment for the game, to show that we're wider than just the NRL.''

The funding will be poured into the competitions over the next three years. Each club will receive $100,000 a year, provided they achieve certain criteria. The other million dollars annually will be apportioned as decided by a newly formed State Cup group, which includes NSWRL chief executive David Trodden, QRL boss Rob Moore and Greenberg.

That group will also oversee the scheduling of matches, with the prospect of NRL, NSW or Queensland Cup and Holden Cup matches on the same day at the same ground, changing match-day experiences. However, that may not be possible at Allianz Stadium and ANZ Stadium, due to the added costs involved, and other grounds due to logistics.

''The NRL will work with NSW and work with Queensland on scheduling,'' Doyle said. ''So where you've got the possibility to have three games in one place, you would look to do that. That'll be based on constraints ahead of us … but we're going to look at each of those constraints and try and find solutions.''

All state clubs will be linked to NRL clubs, who will have the option of primary and secondary affiliations. One of the other key recommendations was the staging of a play-off between the winners of the NSW and Queensland cup competitions on grand-final day, first revealed by Fairfax Media in September.

That Super Bowl-style match will now be played for the first time before the 2014 NRL grand final.

Discussions have been ongoing with broadcasters, who may look to televise more state cup matches while continuing to show the Holden Cup from next season. The review included feedback from stakeholders including NRL clubs, the state bodies, state clubs, broadcasters, the RLPA, as well as 4250 supporters.

''All the stakeholders we've talked to believe that the elite pathways have got room for improvement, but they are exceptionally good. They are better than any other sport,'' Doyle said.

A reserve-grade competition was considered, but ultimately rejected due to the costs and the prospect of harming State Cup clubs. The review also considered raising the age of the NYC competition, but it was decided that too would harm the state cups.

''Obviously the NYC is still an extremely important step in the pathway, and it's also a massive recruitment tool,'' Doyle said.

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12 comments so far

  • Great news. This reinforces and recognises the strength of the NSW Cup and keeps those real heritage clubs alive. Congratulations on commons sense to all concerned. The Henson Park experience at 3pm Saturdays against traditional rivals like the Bears will only enhance the NRL. Go those mighty Bluebags. Jets to soar in 2-0-1-4!!!!!!!

    Commenter
    Jets Tragic
    Location
    Henson Park
    Date and time
    November 24, 2013, 12:50AM
    • These are very significant changes and the NRL should be congratulated. Too often in recent years any extra revenue in the game has gone direct to player salaries.

      If there is one thing the AFL have been streets ahead in it has been the support of the other levels of the game.

      Commenter
      SF
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      November 24, 2013, 12:57AM
      • A good investment for the game. This will really lift 2nd-Tier footy. A bit like in rugby union, South Africa with there currie cup, and ITM cup in NZ.
        Good to have money for all these pathways. Bring back North sydney bears in the NRL. Northern Sydney needs an NRL team, there in NSW cup now.
        What's intriguing about this is, the other states eg Vic/WA/ACT/Tassie/South Australia. NRL really stepping up to try and make the sport national. Then what to happen with state of origin. Will it go the way of City V Country and be meaningless. I tell you what after what we saw in the Rugby league world cup semi-final at Wembley wow Eng V NZ, had much more emotion and tension than a state of origin game.

        I don't think this cash will lead the NRL to turning into a promotion/relegation comp.
        But it will sure help the prospects of Central coast/Ipswich/ Central QLD/Perth/2nd Brisbane in there bids, and 2nd NZ team. Auckland Vulcans play in NSW cup.
        NRL has 8 sydney teams no problem with that, I wouldn't object to a ninth in northern sydney suburbs. Manly is more Northern Beaches, and unless Brookie gets redeveloped will struggle to get fans travel to ANZ or Allianz over the spit, if the 2-stadia policy happens.
        Dragons and Eels playing more matches at ANZ now.
        Illawara Cutters in NSW cup, maybe this funding may lead to Woollongong getting there own team again.

        Commenter
        Mark
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        November 24, 2013, 3:53AM
        • Agree.. The expansion of support for second tier comps is vital. I also concur with your sentiments about the intensity and standard of the English vs Kiwi test.. It had it all and was amazing... They should play a three test series every year during SOO..Games should be standalone and consecutive ..

          Commenter
          CJW
          Location
          Milton Qld
          Date and time
          November 25, 2013, 11:31AM
      • These improvements are decent, but they are not category A improvements. Sydney is the biggest and richest city in Australia and yet rugby league, somehow, cant fill a stadium. Why? Because the season is too long and also Origin scheduling ruins a chunk of the season. These are 2 major fixes that the NRL needs.

        And dont get me started on ad-covered, change-yearly, overly gaudy, NRL jerseys which noones buys nor wears. The AFL and NFL know what theyre doing, we dont...yet.

        Commenter
        jg
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        November 24, 2013, 9:35AM
        • Well JG you may be interested to know NRL merchandise outsold AFL merchandise in 2013 and was the biggest selling if all codes.

          Commenter
          Tiger33
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          November 24, 2013, 10:33AM
      • It's a step in the right direction. This has chairman Grants fingerprints all over it. He seems to really invest a lot of time and thought into one issue after another and achieves good outcomes. Salary cap is presumably next.
        Two questions. Nsw cup GF is played in obscurity on what day? Can the map of how men's grade competitions and schoolboy competitions fit into the bigger picture too?

        Commenter
        Matt
        Date and time
        November 24, 2013, 8:16PM
        • How's this for the 2014 NRL NSW Championship Final - Newtown vs Norths - Leichardt Oval 3pm on a Sunday arvo... Sounds perfect to me. (The NRL Preliminary finals are Friday/Saturday nights - so Sunday arvo is always free that weekend!) With a bit of pre-match publicity it would be far from obscure!

          Commenter
          Enmore Chook
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          November 25, 2013, 9:04AM
      • This is great news! This will help keep Newtown and North Sydney alive. Rugby League has a histroy of throwing it's history and heritage out the window in pursuit of the Mighty $ and short term fixes - but this is a major step in the right direction. See you all at Henson Park in 2014 - a great day out! GO the Mighty Newtown Jets!

        Commenter
        Enmore Chook
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        November 25, 2013, 8:58AM
        • I would like to know if NSW/Qld Cup games will be considered as curtain-raisers, rather than or along with NYC. I would much prefer to see the players competing who may actually get a run in my team and I would definately go to watch. Love seeing the big names, past, present and future, go around in the NSW Cup on Foxtel. Fans at NRL games are missing out on those players coming back from injury, pushing for a spot or still competitive and hanging around for the love of the game.

          Commenter
          Hohum
          Date and time
          November 25, 2013, 12:11PM

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