John Quayle regrets lack of action in women’s football

The NRLW is on the way, stirring up the usual spectrum of emotions whenever women play traditional men’s sports, especially the codes of football.

Debates about equal pay, or simply more pay, dominate discussions. The pure and simple hostility shown by some and the lack of hindsight of others does not help anyone.

These are also moot points in many ways, as the last time I watched, no one was standing in my living room pointing a shotgun at me, insisting I watch women’s rugby league. Is there anyone in yours? Call the police.

The first round of NRLW was a mixed bag: incredible skill, brutal physicality, thrilling tries scored, thrilling climaxes and often slow and sloppy play. I drifted in and out of watching, sometimes entertained, sometimes not, much like I do with some NRL games.

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But whether you or I enjoy the NRLW is irrelevant. Our perceptions don’t make it any less valuable for those who make it and, more importantly, for those who play it.

The NRL is investing in competition because it has no choice: the gates of women’s sport have slammed back with rugby league competing with the AFL, rugby union, football and cricket in the race for the hearts and minds of children and the credit card details of moms and dads buying tickets and merchandise.

Many people, mostly men, say the women’s game is a waste of money, but the $5m the NRL spends annually on elite competition is a drop in the ocean for a code which has secured $2 billion in broadcast funding over the next five years. .

Rugby Australia didn’t quite capitalize on the gold medal won by the women’s sevens side at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but the AFLW quickly established domestic dominance like their men’s counterpart.

The NRL are aware of this and do not want to be left behind, even though they have taken a careful and cautious approach to building their competition.

There have been distinct gains since the first season of the NRLW in 2017. This is the rapidly growing demographics of the game with participation at all levels rising from 10,000 players to 35,000. There are currently 1500 female coaches and 500 referees.

Eel player Abbie Church went part-time from her paramedic job to play NRLW.Credit:Wolter-Peeters

Meanwhile, on television, the audience is also growing. The annual women’s show State of Origin draws nearly one million viewers. Around 204,000 people watched Parramatta’s thrilling win over Newcastle on Sunday when Maddie Goujon threw the winning basket – up 9% from 2020 (NRLW competition was canceled last year).

Which brings us to Abbi’s Church23, who came late in the game for the Eels and represents the kind of commitment young women take to play the sport at an elite level.

She grew up in Werombi, near Camden, supported South Sydney like her father but aspired to play the game. She played touch and OzTag until Group 6 launched a women’s competition three years ago years.

Around the same time she became a paramedic and for the past two years has been on the front line in Sydney’s west as COVID-19 devastated the suburbs. She trained between grueling 16-hour shifts.

After the Eels included her in their squad this season, Church decided to work part-time.

“I had to sacrifice a few things to make it work – but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity,” she said. “I used to work four 12-hour shifts a week, but recently switched to part-time – only two shifts – because with my job I can’t just finish up and run to training. I had to sacrifice that, but a lot of women in the game did. They come to practice from work, or finish practice, sleep fast and then work night shifts.

Church laughs when I tell him about the medical advice offered to Quayle 30 years ago.

“We are not biologically the same as men, nobody says that,” she said. “But the way the game has evolved, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be out there, running around, punching each other.”

Change is a good thing. Some take it, some don’t. Sometimes it’s just a matter of showing up.

Bruises: Therese Aiton sports an impressive minnow in the Eels clash against Newcastle.

Bruises: Therese Aiton sports an impressive minnow in the Eels clash against Newcastle.Credit:NRL Photos

Nick Politis is the Roosters’ most passionate man who has ever lived and the chairman was in Newcastle on Sunday, showing up in the dressing room after the club’s NRLW side suffered a heavy loss to the Broncos.

“All the eyes of the players lit up,” an official said. “They felt like part of the club.”

Women have supported and followed rugby league for decades, although the behavior of some male players in recent years has turned many away from the game.

The advancement of women’s football can only help heal some of these wounds. Is this a bad thing?

As John Quayle suggests, perhaps rugby league should have done this sooner.

Lawyers 10 steps away

Forget the kids – what about corporate governance? !

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The ARL Commission has threatened to withdraw millions of dollars in funding from NSWRL after the Sharks chief executive Dino Mezzatesta was barred from running for the board due to an apparent conflict of interest.

President Georges Peponis and longtime manager Nick Politis resigned at last week’s Annual General Meeting and now ARLC President Peter V’landys investigation into the matter.

“At the end of the day, corporate governance is paramount,” V’landys told the Herald earlier this week. “We are funding this organization and this organization must be for the betterment of rugby league in this state, not for any other reason.”

Mezzatesta’s nomination was not accepted after the NSWRL sought legal advice on its own constitution.

This legal advice came from a prominent lawyer in Sydney Darren Kane. For the sake of transparency, it should be noted that Kane is a Herald journalist.

A line is tossed that Kane’s legal advice should not have been taken as he has been on assignment for NSWRL for the past two years.

So, let’s be clear: the NSWRL Board asks the solicitor it has retainer for a legal opinion, and that is precisely what it is being paid for.

That sounds suspiciously like good corporate governance to me. So why the threat to blow up the NSWRL?

Maybe the reaction would be different if his legal opinion was different.

Mezzatesta took his own legal advice and complained to V’landys, which is his right.

“Boring”: Blake Ferguson on his time in a Japanese prison.Credit:Getty

THE QUOTE

“It’s been really lonely and boring.” – Blake Ferguson spend 29 days in a Japanese prison cell. Looks like my 40s.

THUMBS UP

On Tuesday, the pharmacist Skye Swift issued a call on social media requiring a drive from Tweed to Murwillumbah to ensure flooded residents can access essential medicines. Mick Fanning arrived on his jet ski. Winning world surfing titles, beating sharks, helping flood-affected chemists. Is there anything this man can’t do?

THUMBS DOWN

Sports bodies around the world were quick to send Russia to sports Siberia about the president Vladimir Poutinethe invasion of Ukraine, but they have to be careful not to overstep the line, especially with Russian athletes brave enough to speak out against the war. The selective morality is also mind-boggling, given the human rights records of some countries rewarded with World Cups and Olympics.

It’s a great weekend for … Australia’s women’s cricket team conquers all as they kick off their ICC World Cup campaign, taking on England in Hamilton, New Zealand, in their first game at midday on Saturday AEDT.

It’s an even bigger weekend for… pat cumminswho will lead Australia not only in the country’s first Test in Pakistan in 24 years, but its first after leading the charge to edge past the coach justin langer. The Cummins era officially begins in Rawalpindi on Friday.

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