The recent headlines surrounding former NRL and now Channel 9 indentity Matt Johns is set to expand to other previous allegations aimed at Rugby League players on tonights Four Corners program on ABC at 8.30pm.
The publicity surrounding this upcoming broadcast has gained plenty of legs and is sure to attract a large audience, with the latest mail suggesting the program will not only talk about the Matt Johns situation 7 years ago, but extend to cover more recent NRL damaging headlines such as:
* The Bulldogs affair
* The Dane Tilse affair
* The Anthony Laffranchi and Michael Crockett trials
*Â The Brett Stewart affair
*Â The Balmain-Ryde affair
Some media sources have suggested it’s unfairly targeting the National Rugby League code alone, with the existing damage set to be compounded by this documentary that airs tonight.
Such was the media glare around this story, the wife and children of Matt Johns have travelled to Western Australia to holiday away from the publicity surrounding events that happened 7 years ago. It’s believe that Johns and his wife Trish spent time apart after the event many years ago but reconciled soon after.
While the NRL body is not commenting until after the show has screened; Four Corners reporter Sarah Ferguson made no apologies for digging up some of the old skeletons in the Rugby League closet.
“One of the things that I think we have to bring into this debate is that these incidents are not only interesting when the threshold of a prosecution can be met and what we are looking at here is behaviour and we are looking at attitudes to women,” Ferguson told the ABC’s Offsiders program.
“I don’t think anybody would want to make that case,” she said. “However, when you listen to people saying, ‘Why don’t we look at AFL, why don’t we look at soccer, why don’t we look at this’, I think they’re defensive mechanisms aimed at diverting attention from this crucial question.
“Are there mothers around the country today looking at rugby league and saying, ‘Do I want my son involved in this game, are these attitudes prevalent today, has it changed, are the NRL doing anything to wipe out these attitudes in the sport?’ and that is really the question we have to answer.”
But while some argue that the publicity will harm the NRL, marketing experts are divided and still believe that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Leading New Zealand marketing expert Mrs Dianne Roy has said that the headlines, talk and attention Rugby League receives over this program will keep them in prime newspaper and television news slots for the next 24-48 hours.
Valuable slots that would cost big dollars to buy, and the free airtime (while not positive) still keeps the competing codes and other sports well out of the limelight.
So it seems while officials will be cautious to mention this; ultimately it isn’t all bad news for the Rugby League code.
Whats your view on the scandals within Rugby League? Is it confined to it’s players? Or is it something happening in all corners of sport, and other parts of the community that just aren’t in the media spotlight?