Ryan Papenhuyzen and Sandor Earl of the Melbourne Storm train in Melbourne, Tuesday, April 14, 2020. The NRL has been given
Ryan Papenhuyzen and Sandor Earl of the Melbourne Storm train in Melbourne, Tuesday, April 14, 2020. The NRL has been given "authorisation in writing" from NSW authorities for the game to restart on May 28, ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys says. (AAP Image/Scott Barbour) NO ARCHIVING

Kent: It’s time to play league, not politics

It seems only reasonable in this era of misinformation that Tuesday's meeting between ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys and Channel 9 boss Hugh Marks ended with none of the small explosions many expected.

Speculation that Nine would leverage the shutdown to wrestle back exclusive rights for Friday night and Sunday afternoon football appear wide.

Marks is believed to be at ease with the current broadcast arrangement.


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Speculation that Nine would try to pinch a Saturday game from Fox Sports also fell short.

Nine has no call on Fox Sport's contract rights.

What proved correct was Nine's insistence it be part of the conversation about what the resumed season looks like and the statement out of League Central suggested that will happen soon and they will also invite Foxtel boss Patrick Delaney.


Nine CEO Hugh Marks met with ARLC chairman Peter V’landys on Tuesday.
Nine CEO Hugh Marks met with ARLC chairman Peter V’landys on Tuesday.


Only in a meeting with Nine, Fox Sports and the NRL can change be made.

Until then we don't know what the season will look like.

"Channel 9 naturally needs certainty about the return date because they don't want to promise that it's due that date and then we can't achieve that," V'landys said.

"I understand that and the next week or two will tell us if that date is achievable or not. But that was just a discussion point.

"As we said, both parties outlined their position and I expect that there are some concerns, that Hugh has, that we need to address. Including that one."

Broadcasters need certainty, even more among this world of financial instability.

They need certainty to sell to their advertisers, who use this certainty to entice buyers, and those buyers need confidence.

Their confidence comes from certainty. A resumption of the season indicates certainty all the way through.

Certainly the politicians are helping no one.


Peter V’landys has plenty on his plate. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Peter V’landys has plenty on his plate. Picture: Jonathan Ng

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard moaned that the NRL had not consulted him about resuming its competition before V'landys, as politely as possible, produced a letter from NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, in his role NSW Emergency Operations Controller, authorising the NRL to go ahead.

Politicians are terrified of mumbling a quote that might return to haunt them. Every statement is open-ended or offers two points of view, for the affirmative and negative.

How else can everyone be pleased?

For instance all these politicians talk of the "ambitious" start to the NRL season as if ambition is a bad thing.

Ambition is why NASA looked to the moon and began building rockets.

Ambition is why Sam Burgess left England as a young man for the testing grounds of the NRL.

Why children go to bed, even now, cradling their footballs and hoping for dreams about playing in the NRL, or even the NRLW.

Every great act begins with ambition.



Yet politicians talk about it like it is a dirty word.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison cautiously described the NRL's intention to return "ambitious" some weeks back.

Morrison adjusted his language on Tuesday morning when The Today Show, whose network until recently was quietly campaigning for an NRL shutdown, hit the Prime Minister with a loaded question.

Was the NRL returning a "bad look for the game"?

"I like the ambition," the Prime Minister said. "I like that they're planning to try and get the show back on the road at least in some form."

Not all are so secure.

On Monday, with the NRL's intent now an action, Federal Sports Minister Richard Colbeck said "I think it's a bit ambitious, to be frank."

Of all the portfolios in Canberra, this from the Sports Minister. Somebody needs to send this guy to the Arts.

Nine's concern is the collection of tired minds fighting for daily relevance on the COVID-19 front.

Its own newspaper campaigned heavily for the NRL shutdown. Just recently its own Sunday sports program used, apparently as evidence why the NRL should not resume, the case of the New Jersey family who lost three members to COVID-19.

One was the matriarch, the 73-year-old grandmother. Her son and daughter were 53 and 55 respectively and their connection to rugby league isn't clear, except as a loose argument.

There seems a wilful ignorance to the realities of the virus. Combine it with hysterical arguments and it can be tough to beat, which the NRL now fights each day.

According to figures, 3196 people have the virus Australia-wide, with more than 70 per cent acquiring the virus overseas and bringing it home. Another 3141 Australians, or nearly half, have recovered.

Of the 61 deaths nationwide only one was aged in their 50s. Everyone else was older.

For every 100,000 people in NSW, there are 35 cases. Statistically, there is still more chance of being killed in a road accident than dying of the virus.

Tuesday's infection rate was almost 100 times less than it was the day the NRL suspended the season, falling from 22.27 per cent the day of postponement to 0.24 per cent on Tuesday.

In a country of nearly 26 million there were just 32 new cases on Tuesday.

This in a country with spiralling depression and domestic violence.

Rugby league is a solution, not the problem.

Originally published as Kent: It's time to play league, not politics