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NRL Mailbox: What is the new commission?

NRL Wed, Apr 06, 2011 - 8:00 AM

NRL Mailbox - answering your questions. Copyright: NRL Photos

We’re getting plenty of enquiries from fans asking about the new upcoming governance structure, including how it will differ from the current set-up and suggestions of who should be selected as an Independent Commissioner. We thought we’d explain our current structure and the changes we’re likely to see under a new structure.

Under the current structure, the NRL is a partnership between the Australian Rugby League and News Limited. The NRL Partnership has overall responsibility for the Telstra Premiership, the Toyota Cup and the game’s key revenue streams. There is a Partnership Executive Committee that oversees key financial areas and the partnership agreement, and there is also an NRL Board that administers the running of the Telstra Premiership.

The Australian Rugby League (ARL), as well as having 50 per cent of the NRL partnership, is the governing body for representative rugby league in Australia, from the Kangaroos and State of Origin to junior representative matches.

Beneath the ARL is the NSW Rugby League, NSW Country Rugby League (which takes in the ACT), and Queensland Rugby League. The Northern Territory Rugby League, South Australian Rugby League, Tasmanian Rugby League, Victorian Rugby League and Western Australia Rugby League have affiliate state status. These leagues administer junior and senior competitions as well as representative teams in their region.

As well as these bodies, there’s ARL Development (ARLD), a non-profit company formed by the ARL and NRL to develop the grassroots of the sport from introductory level up to the age of 18 years. ARLD does not run any competitions but rather works within the pre-existing development frameworks established by clubs and state leagues to enhance existing programs and establish new development initiatives, with a particular focus on participation. A ground-breaking campaign launched by ARLD last year is ‘Backyard League’ which saw more than 100,000 children of all ages and skill levels play rugby league in a fun, safe and structured environment where the players set the rules of the game – the concept being a first in Australian sport.

There is tremendous expertise in all these bodies, however there is currently no single board that sets game-wide strategies and oversees their implementation.

The decision to move to a new governance structure was borne out of a Chief Executives’ strategic planning conference in May 2008, with Gold Coast Titans CEO Michael Searle elected to chair a sub-committee to discuss the issue with each of the leagues and the NRL partners. Since then there has been agreement to a commission with a  number of dates proposed. The ARL and News Limited agreed to a draft constitution and have elected a committee that includes an ARL, News Ltd, QRL and NRL club representative, to determine a list of commissioners.

The plan is to assemble a commission of eight members with the view to making the game more efficient by centralising development funding and control under a single body. The Commission will be responsible for the governance of the overall game and the setting of priorities and policy agendas.

The ARL board will dissolve as will the NRL Partnership and NRL Boards, to be replaced by the Commission.

The state bodies will continue to run their competitions under the Commission and the NRL clubs will continue to run their own businesses too.

David Gallop has been nominated by all parties as the person wanted as Chief Executive of the Commission.