Whenever there is an incident within the Rugby League community, similar questions are asked. Questions like why, despite women being the biggest growing influence group in the NRL, more women attend AFL matches than NRL matches. Like why Rugby Union gets much better corporate sponsorship and is used for corporates to build relationships with their clients to a bigger extent than rugby league and why despite other codes having players that disgrace themselves off the field, NRL is still seen as the code for ‘boofheads’.
This year, I have found myself impressed, on a number of occasions with action that the NRL has taken. There have been several examples including the strong stance taken in regard to players like Todd Carney and Blake Ferguson. I have also been impressed by the NRL’s bravery, revealing, only a couple of weeks ago, that as part of the Participation Agreements which all clubs must sign in order to participate in the NRL competition, each club would need to have at least one woman on their board.
It seems that the NRL is beginning to show leadership and beginning to demonstrate an attitude which shows that it wants to be the most respected sporting code in Australia.
We don’t send enough time celebrating the 95% of players in the NRL who do the right thing. These players are great role models, do positive work in the community and play an integral role in what is the jewel on the NRL’s crown – the NRL Rugby League One Community.
Once again, over the weekend, the NRL took action which made me proud to be part of the game. Of course, I am talking about a tremendous young man named Alex McKinnon.
In a code which is often in the papers for the wrong reasons, the rugby league community truly shone on the weekend in order to show our support for a very brave young man.
There are few people in Australia who are unaware of Alex and his injury. He is a timely reminder to all of us that we need to remember the bigger picture.
The #riseforalex round showed just how powerful sport can be in bringing people together and eliciting extreme emotion and making a real difference.
Over the weekend, Rugby League supporters donated over $1.1 million dollars and the sale of ‘Rise for Alex’ wristbands in Newcastle alone amounted to $30,000 alone. The NRL donated $1 for more than 140,000 fans which attended the Round, while AAMI Stadium and the SCG Trust provided an additional $1 for each person who passed through the turnstiles at their venues for Storm-Raiders and Roosters-Panthers games.
Anyone who has had any association with our game over the past 4 weeks will look out our code with tremendous respect and pride. The NRL has demonstrated its commitment to its athletes and will need to continue to do so to ensure that injuries like Alex never happen again.
This weekend has shown really what the fabric of the NRL is all about.
Whilst it is unlikely that we will ever get to a position where all the players behave perfectly all the time (because NRL is a microcosm of society and we as a society are never perfect), the sport has the potential to achieve a great amount of good when it is united.
Congratulations to the NRL, its fans and everyone who got involved this weekend. Thank you for supporting Alex, for supporting the NRL community and for helping to show Australia that our game has so much more to offer than is often in the papers.
Ladies who League