March 25, 2004 | Jeff Wall


THE response by the National Rugby League (NRL) to the revelation that a “prominent Bulldogs player” tested positive to cocaine further confirms everything that is wrong about the leadership of rugby league today.
So far we know that anonymous players have been fined, the Bulldogs CEO “fell on his sword” and the team manager has been sacked. Yes the men who must accept ultimate responsibility for the appalling state of the game today are not only intact, their justification for their own inaction actually gets weaker day by day.
When confronted with the media revelation that the Bulldogs fined a leading player, but kept the offence, the fine, and the player’s name secret, the NRL Chief Executive, David Gallop, used words like “dissapointing” and “frustrating” and “it would be helpful if clubs kept the NRL informed of test results and penalties.”
Canterbury has handled the recent rape allegations, other claims of player misbehaviour, and now drug allegations, in as clumsy a way as I have seen in many years.
But the NRL, the game’s controlling body, has hardly covered itself in glory either.
And what a contrast the weak and inadequate “leadership” of the NRL is with the aggressive and pro-active approach the Australian Football League, and its clubs, has taken with regard to allegations of rape and other sexual abuse levelled against AFL players in recent weeks.
Not only has the AFL and its clubs named the players against whom allegations have been made, the Chief Executive of the League has publicly urged women with complaints of sexual abuse against players to contact the AFL. Several have done so.
The NRL and Canterbury may be able to justify not naming the players accused in the Coffs Harbour incident because they have not (yet) been charged, the same does not apply to the players fined already for turning up for their police interview in little more than beach attire, or the player fined for cocaine use.
The secrecy over matters concerning the Bulldogs reflects an appalling arrogance by players, and the club, but an even more worrying weakness and abdication of leadership and transparency by the controlling body, the National Rugby League.
The ever diminishing number of fans of what the late George Lovejoy called “the greatest game of all” surely deserve better.

Posted by Jeff Wall at 1:31 pm | Comments Off on THE NATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE’S WEAK LEADERSHIP ON SHOW AGAIN |
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