Thursday, 22 April 2010

Melbourne's Loss is Melbourne's Gain

It's all falling into the lap of the Melbourne Rebels.

Their main competition for lovers of the non-aerial prolate spheroid shaped football codes, the Melbourne Storm, has been done big time for cheating the salary cap.

Disullusioned supporters will turn to what they at first will consider the next best thing (before they realise it is actually the best thing after all) and start following the Rebels ensuring good crowds.

Former Storm players will wander the streets looking for some cardboard to sleep on at night and begging for food until the Rebels lend a helping hand and offer them a spot in the back row. A win-win situation as the Rebels get quality players at bargain basement prices and the players get to use the hot showers at the new imaginatively named Rectangular Stadium (alas naming rights have been sold and an opportunity has been wasted).

Any publicity is good publicity and with Melbourne being an Aussie Rules mad city it takes a scandal as big as this one to get Aussie Rules off the front two and back seven pages of the paper and to get Rugby League a profile maybe slightly bigger than the usual paragraph buried on page nine of the sports section. Melbournians, not knowing the difference between the Rugby codes will assume the Storm and the Rebels are the same team or the Storm changed their name out of embarassment and will turn up to see what the fuss is about in the same way as you can't take your eyes off a car crash (such as the Force), swelling the crowd even further.

And sponsors will flee the Storm due to guilt by association and, looking for other sports to invest their publicity dollars in, will turn to a nearby cleanskin. Indeed the only negative aspect may be that the Rebels have so many sponsors their jerseys will be weighed down by all the sponsors' logos and prove impossibly heavy to wear.

It's all looking Rosy for the Rebels and they can expect instant success and a complete lack of controversy in their formative years just like those other non-traditional Rugby provinces in Australia the Brumbies and the Force (notwithstanding the occasional taxi smashing, quokka kicking or teammate bashing).

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Rugby Rejects Thriving in League

It's nice to know that old washed up has-been Rugby players are finding in Rugby League a comfortable and lucrative retirement home.

For example Matt Rogers is still hobbling around the nation's Rugby League fields many years after his successful Rugby career ended. Being held together by scar tissue and reputation is evidently enough to earn selection for the Gold Coast Titans match after match.

 Similarly Lote Tuquiri has been a revelation in Rugby League. Too old and too slow for the Wallabies and unable to score tries for the Waratahs to the extent the ARU leapt at the opportunity to sack him, Tuquiri is a try-scoring machine for the Wests Tigers.

And Wendell Sailor has become almost as big a media celebrity as his well proportioned backside was in the two years he played League after a long nose-candy induced break. Evidently all the media training the Reds and Waratahs gave him is paying off handsomely.

The irony of course is that with Rugby being a productive breeding ground for Rugby League players the game of Rugby League gets the most benefit. Tuquiri is bringing spectators through the gate, Sailor is rescuing a comatose Footy Show and Rogers is supporting the medical community of the Gold Coast almost as much as he supports the faltering Titans back line.

Meanwhile:
  • Mark Gasnier is being touted as the player every Australian Super Rugby team wants only two years after being hounded out of Australia after all his fired up (see number 24 in this link) disgressions with St George;
  • Craig Gower is directing the Italians aroud the Rugby field only a couple of years after his alcoholism led to Penrith tearing up his contract; and
  • Sonny Bill Williams is being almost offered a choice between four nations for the next Rugby World Cup after storming out on the Bulldogs.
All three have found salvation in Rugby, cleaned up their acts and come out the end as better people and better players.

While Rugby Union has had its fair share of home grown quokka-kicking, taxi smashing, head butting problem children, in Rugby Union, League players have thrived in a culture that has nurtured talents and developed skills on and off the field.

The arguments about which is the better game are endless (and great blog material) but Rugby is clearly the place to go to clean up your act and set yourself up for life, not the Rabbitohs.