National Rugby League To Form Committee To Address Problem Of Declining Crowds
A working committee of National Rugby League clubs is being formed to "address the growing problem with scheduling amid concerns that some clubs have suffered alarming falls in crowd figures while television ratings are also down across the board," according to Stuart Honeysett of THE AUSTRALIAN. The issue of falling crowds was "highlighted again during Monday night's match between the Sydney Roosters and Gold Coast" when only 6,345 fans "braved the wet and cold at Allianz Stadium." Canterbury has been "another big loser at the gate." An average of 19,979 fans turned up last season compared with only 15,435 this year. Clubs are "bracing themselves for the situation to get worse as four Thursday-night games are scheduled to finish off the season" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/13).
SALARY CAP PROBE: In Sydney, Brent Read reported NRL CEO Dave Smith insists COO Jim Doyle "remains the right man to preside over salary cap investigations" into both Brisbane and the Gold Coast, despite his "impending return to clubland with the New Zealand Warriors raising the spectre of conflicting interests." The issue is "more one of perception than reality." While "no one in the game believes the highly respected Doyle would be influenced by his future plans, some question whether his involvement is the right look for the code" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/13).
DANGEROUS TACKLES: In Sydney, Brad Walter reported NRL referees have been "encouraged to send players off for any incident which jeopardises the safety of an opponent" after officials "expressed concern over a number of dangerous tackles in last weekend's round of matches." An NRL spokesperson said, "It has always been left to the referees' discretion to determine if a player should be put on report or sent off for a serious breach. However, the NRL is particularly concerned about dangerous incidents where player safety is put at risk, and would support any referee sending off a player in these circumstances" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/12).