The Australian Rugby League Commission’s plan for int'l rugby league is "in danger of falling at the first hurdle" after the players union refused to provide its backing for the "ambitious schedule" in the lead-up to next week’s meeting of the Rugby League Int'l Federation, according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. The ARLC last week unveiled a "four-year rolling calendar" for int'l football highlighted by the return of Kangaroo tours, more matches involving Pacific and European nations and "the potential for a world nines tournament." ARLC Chair Peter Beattie and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said that they would take the proposal to a meeting of the RLIF's execs next week in Singapore, "hoping that the plan would be adopted." Greenberg said at last week’s announcement of the schedule that there had been talks with the players' union, but Rugby League Players' Association GM of Stakeholder Relations Clint Newton "disputed that account." Newton: "Whenever it is going to impact on players’ time and work and the added risks that are associated with playing any additional fixtures, we need to have some oversight over that. ... It’s not as simplistic as putting together a draw. We’re not in a position to support it" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/19).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
An expanded Big Bash League will run longer than the Indian Premier League and "well beyond its previous popular school holiday slot," according to the AAP. However, Cricket Australia denied it "risks overkill" after announcing the '18-19 season schedule, which features "16 more games and a full home-and-away season for the first time." A mid-February finish will see the eighth season of BBL extend beyond the school holiday timeslot and "even go head-to-head with Test cricket," while running 13 days longer than it did last season. In all, the "vastly expanded BBL season will feature 59 matches" -- up from 43 last season -- across 61 days, with the first ball bowled at the Gabba on Dec. 19. BBL CEO Kim McConnie said that "consolidating a full home-and-away fixture over the next three years was the only focus." McConnie: "We really are a baby in the scheme of things and full home-and-away isn’t too big; I think it’s actually what fans expect and want to see. They also want to see the BBL go to new places." McConnie said that "family-friendly timeslots" -- most of the games will begin at 7pm this season -- "would aid attendance in February once school holidays had finished" (AAP, 7/19).