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Essay/Term paper: Australian rugby league

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This report investigates the epic battle

between the Australian Rugby League which has been

around for 87 years and the Super League concept for the

control of Rugby League in Australia. One man, Mr Rupert

Murdoch, is trying to take over and run a rebel Super

League to enhance his power and for financial gain. This

Super League is proposed to run in 1996 with a 10 team

competition as its prospectus. This report reviews the

history of the Australian Rugby League, the battle between

Mr.Murdoch and Mr.Packer, the battle of who controls

pay television, the players future and junior development.

This conflict is mainly based on power, greed and money.

The two protagonist's are prepared to go to any lengths to

achieve supremacy. I have researched archives,

newspapers, pamphlets and watched television to

accumulate information of this divisive conflict. 2. The

History of the A.R.L. The Australian Rugby League

originated in 1908 which was then known as the N.S.W.

Rugby League. The game of Rugby League was born long

ago and faraway, on the 29th of August 1895 in the stately

George Hotel Huddersfield Yorkshire, England. Originally

15 a side teams were reduced to 13 in 1906 and Rugby

League's trademark the play the ball was introduced. The

changes large and small laid the foundations for the fast

moving thrilling game that Rugby League has become. On

the evening of August 8 the N.S.W Rugby League was

formed with a secret meeting at Sydney's Batemans Hotel.

The men driving the new game were: The entrepreneur

James Joseph Giltinan, the great cricketer Victor Trumper,

the influential politician Henry Clammond Hoyle. The

supreme master stroke being the signing of Rugby Unions

champion Herbert Henry Dally Messenger at a fee of 180

pounds. In the summer of 1907-08 more meetings resulting

in the formation of 9 clubs: Glebe, Newtown, South

Sydney, Eastern Suburbs, Western Suburbs, Balmain,

North Sydney, Newcastle which only lasted until 1909,

and Cumberland. However Cumberland had trouble

enticing sufficient players and was forced to amalgamate

with Western Suburbs the following season. Rugby

League's first season began on Easter Monday 1908 on a

wave of unrivalled enthusiasm. To South Sydney went the

honour of being Rugby Leagues first champions 14-12

victors over Eastern Suburbs in the premiership final. Over

the years more teams have been introduced to make an

expanded competition, to strengthen and promote the game

locally, nationally and at this present time internationally.

The teams that have joined since the inaugural competition

include: 1910 Annandale which folded in 1920. 1920

University which folded in 1937. 1921 St George. 1935

Canterbury. 1947 Manly and Parramatta. 1967 Cronulla

and Penrith. 1982 Canberra and Illawarra. 1983 Newtown

were expelled due to financial problems. 1988 Brisbane,

Gold Coast and Newcastle. During the 1994 Rugby

League season the N.S.W. Rugby League passed a motion

to expand the 16 team competition to a 20 team

competition incorporating a team from Western Australia, 2

more teams from Queensland and a team from New

Zealand. It was also agreed to change the name from the

N.S.W Rugby League to the Australian Rugby League also

known as the A.R.L as a true reflection of what it

represents. The 1995 season promised to be the pinnacle

of the league's endeavours with the expanded 20 teams

which included 4 new teams namely: Auckland Warriors

from New Zealand. North Queensland Cowboy's based in

Townsville. South Queensland Crushers located in

Brisbane. Western Reds from the far west Perth. Rugby

League as a truly Australian story is abound with wonderful

characters such as - Messenger, Horder, Stehr, Churchill,

Gasnier, Raper, Reddy, Fulton, Lewis, Sterling. The

Immortals are recognised as Rugby League's finest

post-war exponents, Clive Churchill, Reg Gasnier, John

Raper and Bob Fulton had a creative excellence that

comes along all to rarely. 3. The Conflict Between The

A.R.L and Super League. 1995 provided the League with

so much optimism, to realise their vision of a 20 team

competition and watch it come to fruition. On the 1st April

1995 the unsuspecting Australian Rugby League was out

manoeuvred in a coup when the Super League announced

its intention to form a rebel super league. This super league

was a breakaway league with its own constitution and

vision statement. The Super League had enlisted high

profile rugby league players to endorse and persuade

current players to sign with the rebel league without the

knowledge of the A.R.L The rebel league backed by Mr

Rupert Murdoch and the News Ltd. Corporation made

huge financial offers as an inducement for players to sign to

play in their competition. The A.R.L then counter attacked

signing up loyal A.R.L players with the financial backing of

Mr Kerry Packer and Optus Vision. This conflict was no

longer just about Rugby League, the intervention of these

two omnipotent individuals brought a new dimension, the

struggle for power and total dominance for the pay

television broadcasting rights. 4. Mr Rupert Murdoch verus

Mr Kerry Packer. 4.1 Murdoch, Rupert (1931- )

Australian-born media magnate, who boosted the

circulation of many of his newspapers by creating a tabloid

mix of sex, crime, and sports stories topped with giant

sensationalised headlines. He was born in Melbourne,

Australia, and educated at Oxford University. He became a

United States citizen in 1985. Murdoch returned to

Australia in 1954 and took charge of the Adelaide News

(sold in 1987 and closed in 1992), a marginally profitable

afternoon daily paper. Applying his Daily Express

experience, he created the giant sensationalised headlines

that were to become his trademark, and the paper's

readership soared. Murdoch started building his media

empire with the purchase of a Perth Sunday newspaper in

1956, and in 1960 he entered the Sydney market by

acquiring the Sydney Daily and Sunday Mirror. His

hard-sell promotions and lurid stories boosted the

circulation's of both papers. In 1964 Murdoch founded

Australia's first national newspaper, the Australian, which

featured national and international news, investigative

reporting, and local issues. By 1968 his Australian empire

of newspapers, magazines, and broadcasting stations was

worth an estimated $50 million. Murdoch then bought

control of the Sunday News of the World, a sensationalist

London paper aimed at the working classes, and the

foundering London daily Sun, a stodgy liberal paper.

Circulation soared, and he went on to purchase other

British newspapers and broadcasting interests. In 1981 he

acquired the renowned London Times and Sunday Times.

His holdings expanded to include Fox Broadcasting, for

which he assumed the chairman and chief executive roles in

1992, and TV Guide (acquired in 1988). By 1989

Murdoch's empire included newspapers, television stations,

a movie studio, publishing houses, magazines, and large

shares in news services. But by 1991 his Australia-based

News Corp. had also accumulated immense debts, which

resulted in his selling most of his American magazine

holdings. 4.2 Packer Kerry (1937- ) The family controlled

media group known as Australian Consolidated Press Ltd.

He controls of the media empire that includes A.C.P and

Channel 9 and has interests in newspapers, sub and

provincial, Sydney and Melbourne television radio stations

in Victoria and Western Australia, land development,

Leisure Resorts and television and film productions. In

1977 Mr Kerry Packer offered top cricketers lucrative

contracts to play in teams for his World Series Cricket. 5.

The Vision of the Super League. 5.1 Selected clubs were

presented on 6th February 1995 with a 36 page proposal

and slide presentation of Super League's vision of the

game, not only in Australia but throughout the world. The

proposal addressed all the problems currently experienced

in the game by players and clubs and provided an exciting

plan to guarantee that the super league competition would

be the best rugby league competition in the world. The

Super League would be played in the initial years in the

strong holds of Australia, England and New Zealand

culminating with a World Series that will be played in

various venues and televised throughout the world. 5.2 Ten

teams comprised of the: Auckland, Broncos, Bulldogs,

Canberra, Newcastle Mariners, Penrith Panthers, Perth

Reds, Sharks, Townsville and another team yet to be

announced, the tip is a Sydney North Shore consortium.

Melbourne and Adelaide will increase the number of teams

to 12 within 2 years. The harsh reality is that clubs cannot

compete, especially in the current chaotic climate, without a

substantial revenue base. Under Super League clubs are

guaranteed that they will receive at least $4.5 Million

annually, the clubs also have enormous opportunities to

receive major sponsorship involvement with companies

whose products extend throughout the world. Clubs not

joining the super league would miss out on the opportunity

to participate in the best competition in the world and the

financial security that goes with that opportunity. Super

league suggest that only the clubs that join will be assured

of there survival and there participation as a strong

competitive team. 5.3 Super League assure that 3 out of

the 5 games played each week will be free to air whilst the

other 2 will be available on pay television. Spectators and

supporters will be well taken care of with more football

games to watch at the game or on pay television locally,

nationally and internationally. Super League also promise to

have better facilities and venues for spectators to enjoy. 5.4

The players themselves although thrown into turmoil have

emerged with larger player payments and enormous

sign-on fees as the A.R.L and Super League contest for

their signatures. The tactics applied by both camps were

nothing short of tenacious, each reporting who they had

signed as a propaganda exercise. 5.5 The development of

the game of junior league level is the big winner under

Super League. Under the agreement clubs will be required

to spend $500000 per year on junior development. The

Super League is also in the course of preparing a major

junior league development program under which it will

develop the game through out the game this will be

separately funded by Super League. Some of the actual

Super League concepts have not been made public as yet,

the A.R.L. using innuendo as a means of scoring points. 6.

The Outcome. In 1995 it was decided by the High Court

that super league would be able to start its competition in

March of 96, But later a win by the A.R.L made it unlikely

that Super League would be able to start untill the year

2000. This win was to be short lived as the High Court

dismissed the A.R.L and made it possible for Super

League to start its competition in 1997. 7. Conclusion and

Recommendations. In conclusion this epic battle is far from

over as both camps vie for the monopolistic control of

Rugby League both as a sport and a valuable marketable

commodity. Mr Packer and Mr Murdoch are both used to

winning and getting what they want. The A.R.L. believe

Rugby League can not be owned by anyone, it is the

peoples game whereas Super League believe they have the

right to exploit Rugby League for the good of the game as

there reason. The A.R.L. spent 87 years building this great

Australian sporting icon which encompasses cameraderie

and mateship, national pride, humour and courage, bravery

and skill, spectacular feats of athleticism and great drama.

The traditions have been established the legacy should

remain. Can Rugby League be bought or sold out ? In my

opinion the values of life are not for sale at any price.

Rugby League has evolved over the years, nurtured into the

dynamic game as it is today. What right does anyone have

to take-over and exploit rugby league for their own

financial benefit. Some of the Super League concepts have

merit but I believe the A.R.L. should run Rugby League

"The Greatest Game of All". 8. References. Newspapers:-

The Newcastle Herald. The Sun-Herald. The Sunday

Telegraph. The Telegraph. Books and Magazines:- The

Kangaroos Ian Heads. The Rebels of Rugby Bob Power.

Action '85 Gary Lester. Concise Australian Encyclopaedia

Angus and Robertson Publisher. Green and Gold Heroes

Rugby League Week Publisher. Rugby League Week

Magazines. Summary. This report investigates the epic

battle between the Australian Rugby League and the Super

League concept for the control of Rugby League in

Australia. This report reviews the history of the Australian

Rugby League, the battle between Mr.Murdoch and

Mr.Packer, the battle of who controls pay television, the

players future and junior development. This conflict is

mainly based on power, greed and money. The main

aspects included in this report are the topics surrounding

the controversial Super League. I explore the history of the

A.R.L. as opposed to the rebel league's vision, the

confrontation of the A.R.L. and Super League and some

background information on the two protagonists Mr Rupert

Murdoch and Mr Kerry Packer. In conclusion the

traditions and loyalties established by the A.R.L. into the

game as we know it today are on the brink of being

destroyed because of another mans vision for power and

money. Table of Contents. Summary 1.Introduction. 2.The

History of the A.R.L. 3.The Conflict between the A.R.L.

and Super League. 4.Mr Rupert Murdoch verus Mr Kerry

Packer. 4.1 Murdoch Rupert. 4.2 Packer Kerry. 5.The

Vision of the Super League. 5.1 The Clubs. 5.2 The

Teams. 5.3 Pay Television Rights. 5.4 The Players. 5.5

Junior Development. 6.The Outcome. 7.Conclusion and

Recommendations. 8.References.  

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