The news that five clubs have been “fined” for breaches of the NRL
salary cap rules is a bit like the stories about Wendell Sailor
returning to rugby league – an unnecessary distraction. But the timing
of the imposition of $275,000 in fines on the Storm, Bulldogs (again),
Roosters, Dragons and Panthers was indeed ironic.

On the very day the salary cap made the news, it was revealed that
rugby union has quietly dropped its unofficial “gentlemen’s agreement”
that Super 12 salaries not exceed $110,000.

So while the NRL is now threatened with appeals, and possibly wider
legal action, over penalties totally just $275,000 (another lawyers
feast on the way?) the one code that represents a challenge to the
playing talent of rugby league is making it easier for its Super 12
teams to tempt league players with offers their NRL club – thanks to
the salary cap – might not be able to match. Talk about getting your
priorities wrong.

The debate about the relevance and benefit of the salary cap never gets
off the ground because neither the NRL, nor the majority of clubs, want
to see it increased, or its conditions substantially liberalised.

Yesterday’s decision by the NRL Board to allow each NRL club to enter into
$50,000 deals with current sponsors for two elite players – and do so
without impact on the salary cap – is just another feeble attempt to
divert attention away from the very relevance of the salary cap itself.

Read Jeff’s full story on the site here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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