South Side Story episode 4 aired last night on the ABC at 8pm. For those that haven’t seen South Side Story yet – it is a 6 part series providing a true behind the scenes look at the South Sydney Rabbitohs since they were purchased by Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court last year. Tracking their off-field progress as well as their 2007 assault on the NRL premiership.

We have mentioned South Side Story previously on NRL News, however one particular scene caught my eye last night and I felt it was worth mentioning.

Undoubtedly the South Sydney Rabbitohs have achieved great success in 2007, regardless of the weeks ahead – the Bunnies have secured off-field sponsors, plenty of media attention and have finally become a true force on the Rugby League field.

The duo of Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court deserve recognition for getting the business back on the road, the infrastructure and support staff network around the players have allowed them every advantage and the players have upheld their end of the bargain – taking the NRL by storm.

In last nights episode of South Side Story, we found out that Crowe and Holmes a Court have been regularly treating the Rugby League media writers to fancy dinner and drink dates as they discuss and present the latest information around Souths. (Come on Russell and Peter, where is the invite for NRL News?)

Seriously, is this genius or what? Not only do Souths get to build a strong rapport with Rugby League media outlets, but they also develop an on-going ‘media-friendly’ relationship. Media writers would certainly be hesitant to cristise Souths in any way; be it on-field or in back office management – the regular meetings organised by Crowe and Holmes a Court have the Rugby League media eating out of their palms.

The Rugby League media obviously have a huge impact on the NRL, the fact that News Limited not only ‘own’ half of the NRL, but are also the prime publisher of NRL stories and information through their Daily Telegraph paper – means they have a huge influence on the game.

Just look at Newcastle, the drama at the Knights is not going away – almost daily, the media is publishing stories that put more pressure on the Knights to sack Brian Smith, we saw a similar push by the media a month or so ago to put pressure on ARL powerbroker Colin Love.

Why? Because the stories don’t only sell Newspapers – they can have a huge influence on what happens in certain situations. The media outlets obviously know this, and push their beliefs and agendas all the time.

This makes the move by Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court so much more impressive. Both smart operators, they used their understanding of the media power and their business nous to engage the Rugby League media writers early in 2007. By getting the media ‘in their pockets’ – Souths are one step ahead of everyone else.

The new owners of South Sydney are not only doing wonders for their own club, they are showing they way forward for other NRL teams off the field. The advancement and business talent at Souths is certainly good for the NRL collectively – as it will improve how clubs are managed, marketed and approached overall – taking the product we all ‘love’ to a new level.

South Side Story airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC for 2 more weeks, produced by Beyond Entertainment – South Side Story is as close as you can get to being part of a Rugby League team and seeing how it all works”

By ricky

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