maxcowan

AFL, NRL, Western Sydney – War?? What is it good for?

In Mish-Mash of Wisdoms, Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 at 10:20 am

Last night on the news I saw Graham Annesley (ex NRL COO, current NSW Minister for Sport) handballing a Sherrin to Andrew Demetriou – part of the AFL’s announcement that one of its premium events – the Draft – will be held in Western Sydney, backyard of their newest franchise, The GWS Giants.

An image full of irony.

Demetriou & Annesley - Partners in an Ironic Dance

There has been much talk for some time about the war (or imminent war) between AFL & NRL over Western Sydney. Phil Gould, Penrith Panthers RL GM is reported to be trying to spark the NRL into military action against the southern insurgents. I even saw on one forum some Panthers fans up in arms about the fact their local newspaper devoted their front page to a story about the Penrith Rams Aussie Rules team.

The battle, I guess is a distraction and the subject is a fairly emotive point of discussion … at least for NRL supporters. The AFL nor its fans and supporters seem to be talking about “war”, they seem to be focussing on how they can make things work better for them.

I think the AFL would be happy the NRL, its clubs, and NRL strategists, feel they are in a war. While they strategise about what they should do to combat the AFL,  the AFL strategises about how they can do things better.

The question is where will this “war” take us (us=RL) – my guess is that, if “war” really is the driver of either the clubs or the leagues, then it will use up a lot of resources for very little benefit to anyone. War implies a focus and attention on your opponent. That sort of focus in business can be disastrous.

The most recent war for Rugby League was the civil war. It started in 1995 and, 16 years leter, the scars have not healed.

Imagine what a great position the game would be in if the (in excess of) $1b spent during that war had have been spent on improving the game, its administration, its grass roots, its strategic position, its standing and profile. Imagine the state of our game now if Packer, Arthurson,, Murdoch, Ribot, and all the other players had sat down and said lets work out where we all want to be in 10 years time (or 20 or 50) and then design a pathway to that goal.

But, they each focused on the other!!! When they should have focussed on the game!

The moment your focus becomes your opponent, and your intent becomes destructive, that is the very moment you should be doing a bit of self-examination and looking at what you can do to improve yourself (irrespective of there being any opposition.)

Interestingly enough, it seems to me that it is the NRL who see themselves at war (or that war is imminent). They see themseleves as being invaded and think its is time to defend their turf. Well boys, guess what???

You are too late!

The invasion has happened and the only way you can win the so-called war is to improve yourself. Not one solitary cent should be spent with the intention of disarming or destroying the other side.

The AFL seem happy to co-exist, to acknowledge the value and position of Rugby League. They even had some of their players pay homage to the Blues in State of Origin – some may see this as somehow devious but the fact is that it did, and does, pay respect to the premium NRL event. I doubt the NRL would ever allow their players to make such a complimentary gesture.

My god, even the choice of colour and jersey design for GWS was a huge compliment to Wests Tigers. It paid great homage to Wests Tigers – it makes an inference that those colours, those brand elements, that belong to Wests Tigers best represent Western Sydney. What an opportunity for Wests Tigers to leverage. What could come from a strategic relationship between Wests Tigers &  GWS? A partnership aimed at strengthening the Western Sydney sporting, cultural, and economic juggernaut. And, simultaneously building and deepening their own influence in the region.

Working together with GWS those Wests Tigers colours would be identifiably Western Sydney in less than a generation. And it would be difficult for that to happen without GWS, perhaps impossible.

So, in typical NRL fashion, The Wests Tigers blew up and threatened legal action. Just as Packer, Arthurson, Piggins etc blew up when Murdoch entered the equation in 1995 – opportunity lost.

My first thought at Penrith was to approach GWS and work out ways we could work together to make Western Sydney a stronger region, but there were some internal barriers. Parramatta could also work them in constructive ways. But the opportunity for Wests Tigers was (and is) much bigger.

Nah! I am afraid the NRL boys haven’t learnt a great deal and are looking to throw more money in a war. And worse, they have identified the wrong enemy … who is the real enemy? Well, I might broach that question another time.

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