The NRL drew 126,000 fans in its opening round last weekend.
Poor management has cost the National Rugby League almost A$2M ($1.8M) "in gate takings and an highest attendance record last weekend," according to Phil Rothfield of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. An analysis of the round one venues revealed that "the code could have attracted an extra 80,000 fans rather than be dealing with the embarrassment of 10-year low figures." Potentially 206,000 fans "would have turned up rather than 126,000 if the draw had of included Suncorp Stadium, Newcastle, Eden Park and AAMI Park." Officials "inexplicably chose not to play arch rivals Storm v Sea Eagles in Melbourne on an AFL-free weekend." At an average ticket price of A$25, the round "could have attracted an extra" A$1.8M in ticket sales. It quickly "shoots down the argument that Channel 9 and Fox Sports are to blame for the poor crowds and scheduling nightmare" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/14
). In Sydney, Dean Ritchie reported a former Australian NFL player "has called on the NRL to re-introduce the five metre defensive rule before rugby league becomes a 'death sentence.'" Colin Scotts, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Oilers, said, "Concussion leads to mental illness, violence, obesity, depression, dementia and suicide." Scotts, 50, "thinks the interchange should also be reduced to cut back on collision and impact." He said, "Concussion can be a death sentence. The life expectancy of an NFL player is 52 to 55. We used to laugh about it -- now we cry about it" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/14