March 17, 2004 | admin

Rugby League – the consequences of weak and inadequate leadership

The news that the AFL now has its own sex scandals should provide little comfort to the administrators of rugby league still struggling with serious sex abuse allegations in two of its premiership clubs the Canterbury Bulldogs, and Melbourne Storm.
Any distraction will be temporary, and so it should be.
Rugby league today is in crisis, no matter how much its national and club administrators continue to pretend otherwise. It is a crisis of confidence, the real consequences of which won’t be felt for some years when mums and dads, and school sports teachers, make decisions about what code of football (if any) boys will take up.
The behaviour of a minority of players even if no charges arise from the most recent, widely publicised, incidents sets the worst possible example for the code.
As highly paid professionals, the players concerned must accept much of the blame.
But the games administrators cannot escape blame and responsibility as well.
In my long and varied career I have met few more competent, visionary or effective leaders than the late Senator Ron McAuliffe, who for 20 years dominated rugby league in Queensland. It was my privilege to work with him closely for some of that time when he was President of the Queensland Rugby League.
Some might say he ruled by fear. Others would say he was a dictator. If he was, he was a largely benevolent one.
The club, state and national players in his era were not fully professional, with most holding full time jobs, but many had high profiles in the media and community.
I cannot recall one incident in that whole period that would be even remotely comparable with those now causing so much damage to the game.
I can recall a couple of transgressions that did not involve criminal behaviour but did not set a good example. In one case, the Senator simply told the selectors the player concerned was never to be chosen again. No publicity. The player never played rep football again and his career ended prematurely.
I suspect many players did fear the Senator more than a few officials did so as well.
But he was also respected, and that’s the real difference between Ron McAuliffe and far too many officials today.
The game might now be totally professional, but its officials regularly fail to meet the standards that ought to be expected of professional administrators running multi-million dollar enterprises and that is what rugby league clubs are today.
There are a few exceptions the Brisbane Broncos being among them.
But too many of the game’s administrators provide weak leadership and tolerate poor discipline off and on the field.
Since the departure of Ken Arthurson and John Quayle, the leadership at the top has largely been inadequate and all to frequently found wanting. The game is today paying a heavy price and hundreds of thousands of young players, and fans, rightly feel let down.
By all means address behavioural and other issues concerning players but the game needs to have a hard and honest look at its officials as well.
It will not be a pretty sight.

Posted by admin at 2:51 pm | Comments Off on Rugby League – the consequences of weak and inadequate leadership |
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