Just a week out from the start of the 2005 National Rugby League Premiership, the game has been given some timely advice, and a warning, from a very unlikely source.

In the last 48 hours, two women, yes women, have been spot on with their observations about recent shameful events and the role of the highly paid club Chief Executives in lifting the game out of the mire.

I say “unlikely” source because rugby league has been slower than most sports to embrace the role of women in its leadership structures. And that is despite the fact the game has a very strong support base among female fans.

It is only a matter of weeks since the NRL appointed a woman – Ms Katie Page – to its Board (but not to the far more powerful Partnership Committee). And now wonders never cease – the Melbourne Storm are about to appoint just the second women director to the Board of an NRL Club, joining the immortal Dawn Fraser who has been a long-time Wests Tigers Director.

So I took extra notice when two highly successful women from the business and corporate world handed out some very public advice to NRL clubs this week.

At the launch of the 2005 season on Wednesday, Telstra’s Marketing Director, Holly Kramer, said the game’s major sponsor was “not impressed” by the actions of Newcastle Knights players in Bathurst almost two weeks ago. If that did not send as small shiver down the spines of the NRL Club CEOs then it should have.

At a time when the NRL is considering yet another way to tinker at the edges of the salary cap without undermining its principles – and this time it is allowing 2 players from each club to receive sponsorship payments outside the salary cap – the game’s biggest sponsor has clearly issued a note of warning. And so it should.

CRIKEY: Read the full story on the site here: http://www.crikey.com.au/articles/2005/03/004-0001-8848.html

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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