Need for greater professionalism on and off field

Normal, Sports

The National, Friday 12th April, 2013

 RUGBY league must get its act together fast.

The Digicel Cup starts tomorrow but by late yesterday there was still no sign of the season’s draw.

Apart from the opening round, fans of the country’s most popular sport were still in the dark.

No one could make early plans  to watch the team they support.

It is particularly galling as there are only 10 teams.

How hard can it be to draw up the fixtures for the season. Sports around the world do that each year. 

The fact that this was not done sooner only shows a lack of professionalism by the organisers and the body that oversees the code.

The fact that teams for the com­petition were not finalised  un­til recently is no justification for such a delay.

In fact, that delay is just another poor indicator of the way the  game is run in a country that considers rugby league the national sport. It is simply poor administration.

What is the point of releasing the season’s draw a day before the competition starts.

Franchise owners spend a lot of money putting their teams together and expect to make some of it back through gate-takings  and the sale of merchandise.

One way of boosting gate-takings and increasing following is by releasing the season’s fixtures months ahead of time. 

That allows fans to decide which games they watch, when and where.

Often fans use the pretext of a cup match to visit their province of origin.

That generates business for al­­most everyone – the transport and hospitality industries in particular.

It takes money back to the pro­vinces and everyone comes out a winner regardless of the score.

The government has already spent or earmarked millions of kina in public funds for the game.

That has resulted in the hiring of key personnel for the Kumuls campaign in the World Cup in the United Kingdom later in the year.

Now we must instil greater pro­fessionalism into the game off the field.

Only then will the national sport be heading on the road to  greater success at home and abroad.