A rep game that never reached any great heights. For a so-called representative game, played by the some of the top players in the NRL, the crowd was disappointing. The game would have received more attention and possibly a larger crowd if it was played in a major country centre such as Bathurst or Orange. The game was a fantastic opportunity to increase the exposure of the game to an audience currently starved of live NRL games. While the players tried their guts out and put on an impressive show, was it worth it?
While there is always the risk of injury to players in any representative match, was the risk really worth it in the case of City vs Country? Sure, if there are bigger crowds through the gate and greater interest – the injuries would be worth it, but at this stage any player that is struck down with injury will miss possibly the chance of NSW representation and certainly some club time – all for an event that hasn’t reached any great heights so far.
The game was definitely not an opportunity for players to impress the State of Origin coach â€“Craig Bellamy did not even bother to attend the match. Hopefully, he stayed up to watch the late night replay available on Channel 9 in Victoria. Fortunately it seems at least Victoria will get the Centenary Test Match and State of Origin fixtures live on their small screens, a small ray of hope in an otherwise competitive TV and sporting market down south.
In the 1970â€™s and 80â€™s, mid-week and pre-season competitions such as the AMCO Cup would travel to country centres within NSW and QLD to promote the game, nurturing its grass roots. Aspiring country rugby league players had the opportunity to watch their heroes play, giving them the motivation to want to one day, join a club in the elite Sydney or Brisbane competitions. Many clubs complain about the amount of Rugby League being played at present, so the risk is always there that clubs may use ‘lower grade’ players in the tournament to avoid injury and fatigue, however if you make the prize attractive and enforce strict rules – a mid-week or pre-season tournament would certainly get the clubs interested.
With AFL planning a team for western Sydney, NRL Rugby League administrators must focus on ensuring that the sportâ€™s top competition maintains its position as the number one sport in NSW. AFL, with a â€˜realâ€™ national competition, is undoubtedly rugby leagueâ€™s greatest threat and the great enemy is making ground all the time.