This report investigates the epic battlebetween the Australian Rugby League which has beenaround for 87 years and the Super League concept for thecontrol of Rugby League in Australia. One man, Mr RupertMurdoch, is trying to take over and run a rebel SuperLeague to enhance his power and for financial gain. ThisSuper League is proposed to run in 1996 with a 10 teamcompetition as its prospectus.
This report reviews thehistory of the Australian Rugby League, the battle betweenMr. Murdoch and Mr. Packer, the battle of who controlspay 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 toachieve supremacy.
I have researched archives,newspapers, pamphlets and watched television toaccumulate information of this divisive conflict. 2. TheHistory of the A. R. L. The Australian Rugby Leagueoriginated in 1908 which was then known as the N.Order now
S. W. Rugby League. The game of Rugby League was born longago and faraway, on the 29th of August 1895 in the statelyGeorge Hotel Huddersfield Yorkshire, England.
Originally15 a side teams were reduced to 13 in 1906 and RugbyLeague’s trademark the play the ball was introduced. Thechanges large and small laid the foundations for the fastmoving thrilling game that Rugby League has become. Onthe evening of August 8 the N. S. W Rugby League wasformed with a secret meeting at Sydney’s Batemans Hotel. The men driving the new game were: The entrepreneurJames Joseph Giltinan, the great cricketer Victor Trumper,the influential politician Henry Clammond Hoyle.
Thesupreme master stroke being the signing of Rugby Unionschampion Herbert Henry Dally Messenger at a fee of 180pounds. In the summer of 1907-08 more meetings resultingin the formation of 9 clubs: Glebe, Newtown, SouthSydney, Eastern Suburbs, Western Suburbs, Balmain,North Sydney, Newcastle which only lasted until 1909,and Cumberland. However Cumberland had troubleenticing sufficient players and was forced to amalgamatewith Western Suburbs the following season. RugbyLeague’s first season began on Easter Monday 1908 on awave of unrivalled enthusiasm.
To South Sydney went thehonour of being Rugby Leagues first champions 14-12victors over Eastern Suburbs in the premiership final. Overthe years more teams have been introduced to make anexpanded competition, to strengthen and promote the gamelocally, nationally and at this present time internationally. The teams that have joined since the inaugural competitioninclude: 1910 Annandale which folded in 1920. 1920University which folded in 1937. 1921 St George.
1935Canterbury. 1947 Manly and Parramatta. 1967 Cronullaand Penrith. 1982 Canberra and Illawarra.
1983 Newtownwere expelled due to financial problems. 1988 Brisbane,Gold Coast and Newcastle. During the 1994 RugbyLeague season the N. S.
W. Rugby League passed a motionto expand the 16 team competition to a 20 teamcompetition incorporating a team from Western Australia, 2more teams from Queensland and a team from NewZealand. It was also agreed to change the name from theN. S. W Rugby League to the Australian Rugby League alsoknown as the A.
R. L as a true reflection of what itrepresents. The 1995 season promised to be the pinnacleof the league’s endeavours with the expanded 20 teamswhich included 4 new teams namely: Auckland Warriorsfrom New Zealand. North Queensland Cowboy’s based inTownsville.
South Queensland Crushers located inBrisbane. Western Reds from the far west Perth. RugbyLeague as a truly Australian story is abound with wonderfulcharacters such as – Messenger, Horder, Stehr, Churchill,Gasnier, Raper, Reddy, Fulton, Lewis, Sterling. TheImmortals are recognised as Rugby League’s finestpost-war exponents, Clive Churchill, Reg Gasnier, JohnRaper and Bob Fulton had a creative excellence thatcomes along all to rarely.
3. The Conflict Between TheA. R. L and Super League.
1995 provided the League withso much optimism, to realise their vision of a 20 teamcompetition and watch it come to fruition. On the 1st April1995 the unsuspecting Australian Rugby League was outmanoeuvred in a coup when the Super League announcedits intention to form a rebel super league. This super leaguewas a breakaway league with its own constitution andvision statement. The Super League had enlisted highprofile rugby league players to endorse and persuadecurrent players to sign with the rebel league without theknowledge of the A. R. L The rebel league backed by MrRupert Murdoch and the News Ltd.
Corporation madehuge financial offers as an inducement for players to sign toplay in their competition. The A. R. L then counter attackedsigning up loyal A.
R. L players with the financial backing ofMr Kerry Packer and Optus Vision. This conflict was nolonger just about Rugby League, the intervention of thesetwo omnipotent individuals brought a new dimension, thestruggle for power and total dominance for the paytelevision broadcasting rights. 4. Mr Rupert Murdoch verusMr Kerry Packer.
4. 1 Murdoch, Rupert (1931- )Australian-born media magnate, who boosted thecirculation of many of his newspapers by creating a tabloidmix of sex, crime, and sports stories topped with giantsensationalised headlines. He was born in Melbourne,Australia, and educated at Oxford University. He became aUnited States citizen in 1985. Murdoch returned toAustralia in 1954 and took charge of the Adelaide News(sold in 1987 and closed in 1992), a marginally profitableafternoon daily paper. Applying his Daily Expressexperience, he created the giant sensationalised headlinesthat were to become his trademark, and the paper’sreadership soared.
Murdoch started building his mediaempire with the purchase of a Perth Sunday newspaper in1956, and in 1960 he entered the Sydney market byacquiring the Sydney Daily and Sunday Mirror. Hishard-sell promotions and lurid stories boosted thecirculation’s of both papers. In 1964 Murdoch foundedAustralia’s first national newspaper, the Australian, whichfeatured national and international news, investigativereporting, and local issues. By 1968 his Australian empireof newspapers, magazines, and broadcasting stations wasworth an estimated $50 million. Murdoch then boughtcontrol of the Sunday News of the World, a sensationalistLondon paper aimed at the working classes, and thefoundering London daily Sun, a stodgy liberal paper. Circulation soared, and he went on to purchase otherBritish newspapers and broadcasting interests.
In 1981 heacquired the renowned London Times and Sunday Times. His holdings expanded to include Fox Broadcasting, forwhich he assumed the chairman and chief executive roles in1992, and TV Guide (acquired in 1988). By 1989Murdoch’s empire included newspapers, television stations,a movie studio, publishing houses, magazines, and largeshares in news services. But by 1991 his Australia-basedNews Corp.
had also accumulated immense debts, whichresulted in his selling most of his American magazineholdings. 4. 2 Packer Kerry (1937- ) The family controlledmedia group known as Australian Consolidated Press Ltd. He controls of the media empire that includes A. C.
P andChannel 9 and has interests in newspapers, sub andprovincial, Sydney and Melbourne television radio stationsin Victoria and Western Australia, land development,Leisure Resorts and television and film productions. In1977 Mr Kerry Packer offered top cricketers lucrativecontracts to play in teams for his World Series Cricket. 5. The Vision of the Super League.
5. 1 Selected clubs werepresented on 6th February 1995 with a 36 page proposaland slide presentation of Super League’s vision of thegame, not only in Australia but throughout the world. Theproposal addressed all the problems currently experiencedin the game by players and clubs and provided an excitingplan to guarantee that the super league competition wouldbe the best rugby league competition in the world. TheSuper League would be played in the initial years in thestrong holds of Australia, England and New Zealandculminating with a World Series that will be played invarious venues and televised throughout the world. 5.
2 Tenteams comprised of the: Auckland, Broncos, Bulldogs,Canberra, Newcastle Mariners, Penrith Panthers, PerthReds, Sharks, Townsville and another team yet to beannounced, the tip is a Sydney North Shore consortium. Melbourne and Adelaide will increase the number of teamsto 12 within 2 years. The harsh reality is that clubs cannotcompete, especially in the current chaotic climate, without asubstantial revenue base. Under Super League clubs areguaranteed that they will receive at least $4.
5 Millionannually, the clubs also have enormous opportunities toreceive major sponsorship involvement with companieswhose products extend throughout the world. Clubs notjoining the super league would miss out on the opportunityto participate in the best competition in the world and thefinancial security that goes with that opportunity. Superleague suggest that only the clubs that join will be assuredof there survival and there participation as a strongcompetitive team. 5. 3 Super League assure that 3 out ofthe 5 games played each week will be free to air whilst theother 2 will be available on pay television.
Spectators andsupporters will be well taken care of with more footballgames to watch at the game or on pay television locally,nationally and internationally. Super League also promise tohave better facilities and venues for spectators to enjoy. 5. 4The players themselves although thrown into turmoil haveemerged with larger player payments and enormoussign-on fees as the A. R.
L and Super League contest fortheir signatures. The tactics applied by both camps werenothing short of tenacious, each reporting who they hadsigned as a propaganda exercise. 5. 5 The development ofthe game of junior league level is the big winner underSuper League. Under the agreement clubs will be requiredto spend $500000 per year on junior development.
TheSuper League is also in the course of preparing a majorjunior league development program under which it willdevelop the game through out the game this will beseparately funded by Super League. Some of the actualSuper 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 Courtthat super league would be able to start its competition inMarch of 96, But later a win by the A. R. L made it unlikelythat Super League would be able to start untill the year2000.
This win was to be short lived as the High Courtdismissed the A. R. L and made it possible for SuperLeague to start its competition in 1997. 7. Conclusion andRecommendations.
In conclusion this epic battle is far fromover as both camps vie for the monopolistic control ofRugby League both as a sport and a valuable marketablecommodity. Mr Packer and Mr Murdoch are both used towinning and getting what they want. The A. R.
L. believeRugby League can not be owned by anyone, it is thepeoples game whereas Super League believe they have theright to exploit Rugby League for the good of the game asthere reason. The A. R.
L. spent 87 years building this greatAustralian sporting icon which encompasses cameraderieand mateship, national pride, humour and courage, braveryand skill, spectacular feats of athleticism and great drama. The traditions have been established the legacy shouldremain. Can Rugby League be bought or sold out ? In myopinion the values of life are not for sale at any price.
Rugby League has evolved over the years, nurtured into thedynamic game as it is today. What right does anyone haveto take-over and exploit rugby league for their ownfinancial benefit. Some of the Super League concepts havemerit 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 SundayTelegraph. The Telegraph.
Books and Magazines:- TheKangaroos Ian Heads. The Rebels of Rugby Bob Power. Action ’85 Gary Lester. Concise Australian EncyclopaediaAngus and Robertson Publisher.
Green and Gold HeroesRugby League Week Publisher. Rugby League WeekMagazines. Summary. This report investigates the epicbattle between the Australian Rugby League and the SuperLeague concept for the control of Rugby League inAustralia. This report reviews the history of the AustralianRugby League, the battle between Mr.
Murdoch andMr. Packer, the battle of who controls pay television, theplayers future and junior development. This conflict ismainly based on power, greed and money. The mainaspects included in this report are the topics surroundingthe controversial Super League.
I explore the history of theA. R. L. as opposed to the rebel league’s vision, theconfrontation of the A. R.
L. and Super League and somebackground information on the two protagonists Mr RupertMurdoch and Mr Kerry Packer. In conclusion thetraditions and loyalties established by the A. R. L.
into thegame as we know it today are on the brink of beingdestroyed because of another mans vision for power andmoney. Table of Contents. Summary 1. Introduction. 2. TheHistory of the A.
R. L. 3. The Conflict between the A. R.
L. and Super League. 4. Mr Rupert Murdoch verus Mr KerryPacker. 4. 1 Murdoch Rupert.
4. 2 Packer Kerry. 5. TheVision of the Super League. 5. 1 The Clubs.
5. 2 TheTeams. 5. 3 Pay Television Rights. 5.
4 The Players. 5. 5Junior Development. 6.
The Outcome. 7. Conclusion andRecommendations. 8.