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SBD Global/August 11, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

National Rugby League Begins Negotiations On Possible Rookie Entry Draft System

The National Rugby League has "commenced negotiations to introduce one of the most sweeping reforms in the 106-year history of the code" by implementing a rookie entry draft system, according to Hooper, Massoud & Wilson of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. NRL powerbrokers have been "researching the concept for six months." NRL CEO Dave Smith is a "huge supporter of the idea and confirmed the game's governing body was exploring a number of different rookie draft models." Smith: "A draft is a mechanism to ensure the competition remains even in the future. We would want its design to reward those clubs which develop juniors, rather than having them taken away by big spending clubs which do little to foster junior talent." One proposal currently being workshopped would "allow clubs with strong junior nurseries such as Penrith, Canberra, North Queensland and New Zealand the option of hand-picking their top five juniors." These players would be "exempt from the draft, guaranteeing clubs with a history of producing strong talent get first crack at maintaining their best juniors." For the NRL to be "successful with the rookie draft," it would need to garner "full support from the Rugby League Players Association in order to cut a deal under the Collective Bargaining Agreement" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 8/10). In Canberra, Walter & Chammas reported the NRL may fund "all junior development across the game under a major revamp of pathways" that could see the U20 National Youth Competition scrapped. The NRL is "likely to replace the Holden Cup" with new U18 and U20 state-based competitions when the broadcast deal concludes at the end of '17. Those costs, coupled with the expense of fielding a U20 team in a national competition, "have led to the review, which could see a centrally funded and centrally run development system across the game." NRL side Canterbury CEO Raelene Castle and Sydney Roosters CEO Brian Canavan said on Sunday that the game "needed to maintain elite junior competitions while having strong open aged second tier competitions, such as the NSW and Queensland Cups." Castle said the draft concept and the "future of elite junior competitions couldn't be considered in isolation." Castle: "You need to look at the whole development from end to end because all of those things are linked together" (CANBERRA TIMES, 8/10).
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