Sydney rugby clubs "will have their funding cut if they pay players because the Australian Rugby Union plans to return club rugby to its amateur days," according to Georgina Robinson of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Under "watershed reforms" being considered while top club teams Sydney University and Eastwood prepare to play in the Shute Shield grand final this weekend, the ARU wants to make its funding levels of about A$60,000 ($55,000) for each premier club contingent on stamping out player payments, which can be up to A$10,000 a season. The ARU "is also poised to formalise the rights of Super Rugby franchises to prevent contracted players from returning to their Sydney and Brisbane clubs at any point during or after the Super season." The proposed changes "are part of a broader plan to build Australia's so-called third tier around a 'national club championship' that would run from August to October, after the end of the premier club competitions" (SMH, 9/10).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The National Rugby League "has defended its decision to schedule a finals double-header and insisted it was the league's preference to host two games at Allianz Stadium on the same day," according to Michael Chammas of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. It was believed "a scheduling clash" with the Australian Football League at ANZ Stadium "forced the NRL to play the double header at Allianz Stadium on Saturday." However, the NRL "revealed it was their priority to play South Sydney out of ANZ Stadium in the prime time Friday night timeslot." The NRL "was keen to avoid a repeat of the past two seasons when Manly hosted home finals at Allianz Stadium for crowds of 16,678 and 13,972, and believe the double-header will provide the best spectacle for the game." NRL GM of Football Operations Nathan McGuirk said, "When the double header became an option, we embraced the idea" (SMH, 9/10).
National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith "is not anticipating any bad news from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority during the finals series but if something does happen, he insists the game is equipped to handle it," according to Read & McDonald of THE AUSTRALIAN. Smith "remains in constant dialogue with ASADA as the anti-doping body continues its investigation into supplement use across the code." The investigation "has cast a shadow over the entire season and it threatens to do so throughout the finals." Nevertheless, Smith "is confident the game is well placed to handle anything that comes its way." He said, "What we're doing is making sure things go quickly but at the same time it is done properly. Nothing has changed there really." ASADA "has completed its interviews with players, a number of whom are involved in the finals series." As it stands, only one player "has been held to account" -- Canberra winger Sandor Earl (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/10).