National Rugby League-Touch Football Australia Partnership To Boost NRL Popularity
Up to 2 million Australians are now "considered rugby league players after a historic partnership" between the National Rugby League and Touch Football Australia, according to Brad Walter of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The merger, which has been "years in the making, will give the NRL greater clout to secure government funding, ensure access to more sporting fields and provide a foot in the door at private schools that only play rugby union." The aim of the new alliance is to "increase overall playing numbers to 2 million," or 10% of the national population. NRL CEO Dave Smith said, "We are announcing a commitment to build the biggest sporting community in Australia" (SMH, 8/14).
SMITH STAYS PATIENT: In a separate piece, Walter reported Smith is "unconcerned that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority has finalised its investigation" into the Australian Football League first and he insists that "the fate of players will not be affected by what happens in the rival code." No decision is "likely to be made for weeks after about whether players are to be charged but Smith said he was satisfied with the way the six-month investigation was proceeding" (SMH, 8/14).