Zero-tolerance approach to be applauded
NORTHERN Districts Rugby League should take a bow for the way it handled the fallout from brawl several weeks ago.
The zero-tolerance approach to violence both on and off the field in this case should be applauded, and Avondale Tiger Corey Valzan should happily take the 12-month stint on the sidelines.
Especially when you consider one of three spectators involved in the incident was banned for three years.
It is no secret regional rugby league is struggling.
Despite the inclusion of Burnett Heads Cutters to the NDRL and the readmission of Waves Tigers to Bundaberg Rugby League’s A-grade competition, there is cause for concern about the future of local league.
Scenes like those seen on April 12 in the Avondale-Burnett Heads game have no place in any sport, and is a major setback for hard-working committees who spend a lot of time trying to plan the sport’s future.
A lot has been written in social media circles, although the NDRL clubs’ insistence to strictly adhere to and enforce codes of conduct in the time since should be applauded.
The effect of images like those above have a sense of immediacy: one look at an image or hearing stories about what happened can instantly turn people off attending games.
While players, coaches and officials have to ensure the scene is never repeated, there is a larger issue that could undermine NDRL and BRL’s efforts more than any violent incident could. Juniors. Specifically, the lack of young boys and girls opting to lace up the boots and hit the field. Rugby league prided itself on being the working-class game for decades, and as such did not have to put too much an emphasis on junior recruitment.
Attitudes towards sport changed with the times, but as technology evolved to give people more mobility, rugby league’s mindset did not change, and now it has to radically change to survive in the long-term.
League is no different to other sports in that it faces an uphill battle to not only convince young people to play but to attract adults and parents to volunteer their time to help run clubs..
Childers Devils almost folded in the off-season due to both a lack of volunteers to run the club, and a lack of numbers across most divisions.
Solutions are more elusive than Johnathan Thurston at his brilliant best, but it will take a radical approach to turn the fortunes around.