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Volume 6 No. 248
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Meeting In Sydney Leads To Resolution To Rugby League's Long-Running Conflict

A 90-minute meeting at the central Sydney office of National Rugby League side South Sydney Rabbitohs Chair Nick Pappas "brought an end to rugby league’s long-running constitutional imbroglio" and cleared the way for Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys to join the Australian Rugby League Commission, according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Pappas reportedly hosted a meeting on Wednesday that was attended by "a handful of the game’s powerbrokers," chief among them Sydney Roosters Chair Nick Politis, Canterbury Chair Ray Dib and Queensland Rugby League Chair Bruce Hatcher. NSW Chair George Peponis "took part by phone hook-up as the parties thrashed out the issues that had prevented constitutional reform." After months of "tense negotiations," they managed to strike a deal that will result in the ARLC being increased to 10 members -- six independent commissioners will be joined by two representatives from the states and another two from the clubs. V'landys "has been a longstanding candidate to be one of the club representatives because of his strong background in the betting industry and integrity." It "is understood he is keen to join the commission." The other figure who continues to gain traction is Brisbane Chair Dennis Watt, "who will stand down later this year from his position at the helm of the Broncos." A number of clubs reportedly believe Watt "would be a strong candidate given he has recent and intimate knowledge of the battles faced by clubs" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/10). In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko reported the ARLC "will undergo the most radical change since its inception." The agreement to proceed with change "brings to an end a long period of at times strained negotiations." The clubs, "concerned about the direction of the NRL," pushed for greater representation but could not "agree on what shape it would take." Eventually "they arrived at a consensus but were thwarted" by the Queensland Rugby League, which -- like the NSW Rugby League -- had the right to "veto any constitutional reform." The QRL "demanded direct representation on the board" through its chair, Bruce Hatcher. That concession "has been granted, at least for an 18-month period." They "raised other concerns, namely about commitments to grassroots funding and the protocols surrounding how meetings were run." Placating the QRL "means one of the game's big-ticket items has finally been resolved" just a week after the NRL and the Rugby League Players Association signed off on a A$980M ($753M) collective bargaining agreement. Stadium funding and how it is allocated "is also expected to be signed off in the coming weeks" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/9).