For the second week in a row the National Rugby League
finds itself caught up in a public relations disaster that it seems singularly
incapable of overcoming.

Last week it was the debacle of the Cowboys vs Storm semi
final at Aussie Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 42,000. Logic dictated
the game between two out-of-town teams should have been moved to Melbourne or
Townsville, or even Brisbane or Gosford.

But this week’s disaster is far greater, and quite
frankly, inexcusable. On Saturday night the first preliminary final will be
between two teams with very large followings – the St George Illawarra Dragons
and the West Tigers. It will be played at Aussie Stadium. On Sunday afternoon at Telstra Stadium (80,000 capacity)
the Parramatta Eels will meet the out-of-town North Queensland
Cowboys.

Now logic would dictate that the games should be
switched – with a Dragons vs Tigers game at Telstra Stadium certain to attract a
crowd of at least 60,000 and maybe 70,000. On the weekend the Sydney Swans line up in the AFL grand
final, what a great advertisement for rugby league that would
be.

But despite the urging of the NSW Premier, and,
embarrassingly, the naming rights sponsor of Aussie Stadium, John Symonds, the NRL ruled out a switch of venues on Sunday
night, and has refused to budge since.

Read more on the website here.

Peter Fray

Save up to 50% on a year of Crikey.

This extraordinary year is almost at an end. But we know that time waits for no one, and we won’t either. This is the time to get on board with Crikey.

For a limited time only, choose what you pay for a year of Crikey.

Save up to 50% or dig deeper so we can dig deeper.

See you in 2021.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

SAVE 50%