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The Year in Discord: Part I

Favorite son: Roosters legend Brad Fittler is pulling on the boots again.

Favorite son: Roosters legend Brad Fittler is pulling on the boots again. Photo: Tim Clayton

Brad "Freddie" Fittler's announcement that he is playing in the Nines dovetails nicely with our final column of 2013, in which we discussed the possibility of a summer circuit for the truncated version of the game.

As commenter Matty rightly said, NRL players already complain about the length of the season so it is unreasonable to expect them to play all summer as well. So the teams would be made up of fringe first graders, up-and-comers and retired stars.

The main question of this first Discord of the year is: Would you support a Nines series held that included retired players, or would this erode its credibility in your eyes? "Titanic" says he was willing to give the Auckland tournament a go - until Fittler's announcement.

"Keep it serious and then you may well have your niche summer market ... you'd at least get me," he wrote. Do you agree?

In writing about this subject two columns in a row, we may be tempting you to think we have a financial stake in the proposal! Certainly, some of the rather "forced" publicity about the Auckland Nines so far has been interesting to see - it's being shoved down the public's collective throat.

But here at Discord we are interested generally in rugby league's place in the wider sports market, and the southern hemisphere summer seems ripe for the picking if the vehicle is right. Players who have not picked up contracts for the following season, for instance, could prove themselves on the Nines circuit.

Maybe we could have national teams, or states, instead of NRL clubs. Or a mixture? Tell me what you think.

Welcome to 2014

This column comes to you from New York City where it is freakin' freezing.

The game has undergone enormous change in the lifetime of Discord, which has been around since mid 2009 on various platforms. The NRL is awash with money and making sizeable corporate strides with strategic decisions that should ensure its long-term viability.

Television and cinema are just about the only media platforms making money today so it's fortunate for professional sport that one of them provides the biggest slice of its income. But David Smith is still savvy enough to look elsewhere.

In Britain, things are less stable. There is a dispute over the future structure of the professional game, which seems more about political opportunism than real strategic planning. The game is stronger, proportionally, at the grassroots level outside the heartlands than it is in those areas in Australia - but the London Broncos remain a basket case. Big changes, good or bad, are afoot.

Internationally, we seem at the cusp of something really great. The most recent rugby league game of note was a world record for internationals even though the host nation was not involved and, anecdotally, in England and Ireland, I have had people with no interest in the sport quote a perception that rugby league is "coming back" after years of invisibility.

That comes from being on the BBC on Saturday afternoon, I guess. Imagine if there were a Super League game on every Saturday afternoon for 30 weeks! But the real worry is that we know little about the international calendar even this year, the RLIF still doesn't have full-time employees and an office, and any sponsors who were involved in the World Cup have now gone back to what they were doing beforehand.

Our officials don't want international football to start competing commercially with the club game. But it has to. It's time we showed confidence in both levels of the game to co-exist and flourish.

Your comments

Comments now and last week's column dealt with the spectre of supplements and prescription medicine - and the future of the Nines format in rugby league.

But "GummyShark" spoke about the previous week's Discord, which discussed keeping relocation and drugs apart by not forcing Cronulla to relocate as a direct result of their doping fine.

Again, I am not saying Cronulla should never relocate - just that linking the two makes one look like an excuse for the other. The NRL shouldn't take with one hand and give with another.

"Titanic says" if Brad Fittler, Darren Lockyer and Andrew Johns (his doctors would agree for other reasons) playing in a Nines circuit would just make it a farce. Fair enough. I'm sure there are plenty like you, Titanic.

And "ho-hum" said he found it hard to comprehend the reliance of clubs on supplements.

Here's the forum: http://whitelinefever.ning.com/forum/topics/discord-2013-one-israel-folau-and-chasing-players-from-other-code

4 comments so far

  • -The role of nine's should be like sevens rugby union. An introduction to new audiences, never experienced rugby league before, and also make nine's a specialist sport in it's own right, like seven's rugby and T20 cricket have become.
    -And nothing wrong with ex 13 a side players, hopping on the nine's circuit. It's a specialist sport, like sevens rugby and T20 cricket, if there good enough let em. And also nine's is a godo way to test out new rules, or find out things about rugby league that can be applied to 13- a side rugby league. Like drop-kick off's at kick-off time, like rugby union has. Drop kick offs become good contest for possession, and also trial rules like more points for tries scored in in goal line.
    -And a world series 9's circuit like 7's rugby union should happen. Whether it's countries, or club franchises give it a go. And summer is perfect time for such a circuit. League and Union have been playing spring/summer, for years. Think September footy, is spring not winter, super rugby union starts feburary in summer, and tri-nations and league and unions world cups have always been held in spring here. Just play at night, no worries. Heck they play sevens rugby weekend on the Gold Coast in the middle of the day in spring.
    -So trial rule changes, and maybe one day commonwealth games inclusion, or even Olympic game inclusion like 7even's rugby. And have things like Oceania 9's cup, or pacific cup. Good way to get Asian nations into rugby league via nines. Philipines,Thailand,Japan.
    And Oceania teams Fiji/Samoa/Tonga/Cook Islands/PNG.
    Go for it I say. Fiji might put a team in NSW cup, like PNG now has in QLD cup. So any expansion of game is good.

    Commenter
    Greg
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    January 05, 2014, 6:22PM
    • Fiji in NSW Cup is a great idea! It gets a bit boring watching the same teams run around for 26 weeks. Would love to see non NRL teams in the 9's too - PNG, Samoa, Tonga selections, or whatever. I love watching League, wish the Super League was stll on free to air in Sydney.

      Commenter
      Uncle Jed
      Location
      The Shire
      Date and time
      January 05, 2014, 11:21PM
  • There is an untapped International market out there and especially in the United States where there are so many athletes who failed to make it in the NFL but would still have the ability to make it in Rugby League.The NRL itself must think globally and reject the inward thinking of the clubs involved in their competition and support the RLIF that has limited resources,We have the product but we need to work as a family and share expertise and resources for the betterment of our game.

    Commenter
    Bluesbreaker
    Location
    Curl Curl
    Date and time
    January 06, 2014, 9:17AM
    • Utterly abysmal after more than 100 years of existence the international development of the game continues to stutter and stall. To not have an established full time director at the helm of international development is criminal

      Commenter
      Swiss
      Date and time
      January 06, 2014, 10:39PM

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      Four Nations 2014

      Round 1
      Sat, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
      ENG 32 vs SAM 26 Stats
      AUS 12 vs NEWZ 30 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 2
      Sat, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
      NEWZ 14 vs SAM 12 Report Stats
      Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
      AUS 16 vs ENG 12 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 3
      Sat, 08 NovTimes shown AEDT
      NEWZ 16 vs ENG 14 Report Stats
      Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
      AUS 44 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Final
      Sat, 15 NovTimes shown AEDT
      NEWZ 22 vs AUS 18 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Four Nations 2014
      Overall standings
      Team P W L D +/- Pts
      New Zealand 3 3 0 0 22 6
      Australia 3 2 1 0 12 4
      England 3 1 2 0 0 2
      Samoa 3 0 3 0 -34 0
      View all
       
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