There is a simple way for the National Rugby League to head off a move by agents aimed at allowing players to spend the off-season in Japanese rugby union: change the term of the standard playing contract to cover an entire 12-month period.
We always thought Sonny Bill Williams' return to rugby league would be a three-ring circus. Step right up to see Benji Marshall attempting to juggle two codes!
In Discord's opinion, the League is right to stop Danny Buderus coaching rugby union and surely must not allow Marshall to spend the next off-season in Japan. If he wants to do it, he can wait until 2016 when his Wests Tigers deal is up, or he can buy his way out of it.
Rugby union is the enemy, pure and simple. As David Gallop was wont to say, would Coke let someone work for Pepsi in their holidays?
The danger in the SBW precedent is that more players will in future sign only one-year deals, head off at the end of October or November, and "surprisingly" pop up the following season for another go at rugby league, again for one year.
All year long
Discord has mentioned another worrying aspect of this in the past: players are not available for end-of-season internationals. Surely, we said, SBW should be available for our World Cup in 2013 if he is going to play our code next year.
The NRL can head off these moves by making the standard playing contract start on January 1 and conclude on December 31. If you are going to play our game, you have commit to it for 365 days. If you want to play something else, you can't come back until the year after next.
If Marshall does go to rugby union, he'll come back. They all do, sooner or later.
THIS week's Discord comes to you from London. The writer's rugby league season finally came to an end in Salford on Sunday when England beat France 48-4 in the final of the low-key Autumn Internationals series (with Mad Monday in Barcelona on the bucks trip of BBC commentator Dave Woods).
England coach Steve McNamara and his players spoke glowingly of their camp in South Africa and of the camaraderie they built up over the course of massive wins over the French and Welsh.
I've read reams about the sports science measures they've taken, with blood tests at airports and skinfold tests in hotels. I've been impressed with the returns from injury of Sam Tomkins and Rangi Chase and the tries scored by Kallum Watkins and Ryan Hall (who probably is the world's best winger right now).
But the series cannot be judged now. Its value will be apparent in 13 months, when we know if England has even gone close to winning the World Cup.
While we're at it, there's a disparity apparent in the fact the Rugby Football League is also responsible for the Wales and Scotland teams. They are lucky to get a trip to the corner shop while millions are spent on England. How does that encourage anyone to play for those countries? Something has to be done about that.
And revelations in Adrian Morley's book that his brother Chris lied about his Welsh ancestry to make 13 appearances for the Dragons should be a warning to us all ahead of the World Cup.
Thanks for the comments last week.
- Theboov was concerned that under a proposed change to the benefit-of-the-doubt rule, too many tries would be disallowed. I agree with this concern. You are right in saying there is so much evidence now that we shouldn't have too many 50-50 calls. Most should be capable of being adjudicated based on the balance of probability.
- Michael of London says the benefit-of-the-doubt rule has been fine for a century. To the best of my knowledge, we haven't had it for a century and the game has never had it in your neck of the woods, Michael. What we are talking about here is a rule that applies to video refereeing – and we don't have video referees at very many games at all.
- Iambunny questioned the role of “sideline officials”. Iambunny, I am assured by a number of touch judges that they are very active in the areas you mention, but because they are wired for sound, they can tip to the referees who instead talk to the players. Many touchies are very ... touchy about comments such as yours and those by Johnathan Thurston before the Townsville Test.
- Dragonsgr8 goes against most viewers by insisted Foran did not touch the ball. I now want another look at it!