Pros and cons of Auckland Nines

There is a good argument that the Auckland Nines are a bad idea.

For a start, there are the concerns of Cameron Smith that player burnout is being ignored. In Thursday's Sydney Morning Herald, Smith warns the players will get militant – calling in the Rugby League Players' Association – if the clubs just approve the tournament without consultation.

Now, there is a good chance the promise that the Nines will replace existing trials and not be added to them will solve this dispute. But if not, where do we go?

My own concern is that rugby league has spent 118 years making decisions purely for money and where has it got us? Generally speaking we only get it right when we have at least one other reason to do something.

The World Sevens and World Nines introduced new countries and territories to our game by allowing them to compete with full-time professionals in a truncated version of the sport.

The Auckland Nines do nothing but bribe a bunch of pro football teams to cross the ditch in search of cash.

But there is a compelling and very simple case in favour of the Auckland Nines. If the Auckland Regional Council does not give this money to us, they'll give it to another sport.

And that idea makes me shudder a bit. There must be a solution, then, to getting their cash and still doing something for the greater good of the game (if the stand-off remains).

Let's break it down.

On one hand, someone wants to give us cash. On the other hand, we (or the players) don't want to do what is necessary to earn that cash. So, would they give us a little less cash to do a little less? What if it was a World Nines, with national teams? What if we had all the Australian states (plenty of NRL players were born in Victoria, WA, Northern Territory, even South Australia) and the north and south islands of New Zealand compete, instead of 16 clubs? How about a weekend of pre-season games which would have been played anyway?

How much cash would they give us for the All Star game, or the World Club Challenge? I repeat, they want to give us X for Y. Would they give us Z for W? Let's ask!


The shoulder charge has been banned in England and we have the same volume of outrage that we saw in Australia.

To our English readers, I'll repeat some points from an earlier column. Doctors said the shoulder charge was dangerous. The NRL was put in a position where by not banning it, it was seen to be promoting it, given that rugby union had already passed a ban.

If a group of doctors say something in the workplace is unreasonably dangerous and bosses do nothing, the bosses are liable. We are protecting arses not heads but that is the way things are.

Yes, they will ban tackles. Yes, they will ban rugby league as archaic and brutal. But not in our lifetimes. Until then, we will get more gentle and safe at a glacial speed and there's nothing you or I can do about it.


In all this talk about expanding the World Club Challenge, one evolutionary issue has been overlooked by many – including me.

It was a point made by Martin Sadler in Rugby League Express on Monday and underlined by Brad Walter's story on the explosion of NRL funding in the Herald on Thursday.

How competitive will an expanded WCC be when the salary cap in the southern hemisphere goes to $7 million in 2017 while the Super League cap shows no sign of budging from £1.65 million, or $A2,454,784?

Even the players in Super League aren't pushing for the cap to go up because they realise the game in Britain cannot afford it.

Speaking dispassionately and logically, the NRL would be better off staging an expanded World Club Challenge against the Queensland Cup. At least the travel costs would be less.


Thanks for last week's comments.

JG, El Seano, Dynamite Shifty and Horrid Bees Wax had a lively debate about the future of the WCC. The only thing I would add is making the prize money bigger does not make something worthwhile. We should have learned that from the Super League war.

John B makes a good point about how you pick the third-placed team for the six-side WCC in 2015. Do you go to the competition table, or do you choose the team that lost their preliminary final by the smallest margin? What do you think, dear reader?

Paulmac, check out Frank Ponissi's idea in Thursday's Herald, at the bottom of the Cameron Smith story.

This story Pros and cons of Auckland Nines first appeared on WA Today.