Australian Schools Threaten To Ban Rugby League If Code Doesn't Clean Up Violence
National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith "has revealed that some schools had threatened to ban rugby league if the code went soft on on-field violence in State of Origin," according to Brad Walter of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Smith was responding to claims that the crackdown on fighting after the Paul Gallen incident in Origin I "was a reaction to criticism from people outside the game." However, he also said the the game "risked losing the support of those already involved in rugby league if it tolerated the type of violence seen in the opening two Origin matches." Smith cited a letter he had received from a headmaster who said that "he would recommend to a conference of school principals that they should ban rugby league." Smith said, "It is a society-wide issue, and one of those headmasters will be going to a conference of 100 headmasters and they will recommend that rugby league is not played in their schools if we don't get on top of it" (SMH, 7/3).
SATURDAY AFTERNOON FIXTURES: THE AUSTRALIAN reported the NRL "is set to announce a return to Saturday afternoon football over the closing six weeks of the regular season as it looks to combat a recent dip in crowd numbers." The schedule for the remainder of the season will be announced Thursday and the NRL "is believed to have locked in five Saturday afternoon fixtures." Two of the games are earmarked for New Zealand, but the rest "will be played in Australia." It is understood if the move proves successful, it "could be implemented in the schedule on a more permanent basis for next season" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/4).