This report investigates the epic battle
between the Australian Rugby League which has been
around for 87 years and the Super League concept for the
control of Rugby League in Australia. One man, Mr Rupert
Murdoch, is trying to take over and run a rebel Super
League to enhance his power and for financial gain. This
Super League is proposed to run in 1996 with a 10 team
competition as its prospectus. This report reviews the
history of the Australian Rugby League, the battle between
Mr.Murdoch and Mr.Packer, the battle of who controls
pay television, the players future and junior development.

This conflict is mainly based on power, greed and money.

The two protagonist’s are prepared to go to any lengths to
achieve supremacy. I have researched archives,
newspapers, pamphlets and watched television to
accumulate information of this divisive conflict. 2. The
History of the A.R.L. The Australian Rugby League
originated in 1908 which was then known as the N.S.W.

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Rugby League. The game of Rugby League was born long
ago and faraway, on the 29th of August 1895 in the stately
George Hotel Huddersfield Yorkshire, England. Originally
15 a side teams were reduced to 13 in 1906 and Rugby
League’s trademark the play the ball was introduced. The
changes large and small laid the foundations for the fast
moving thrilling game that Rugby League has become. On
the evening of August 8 the N.S.W Rugby League was
formed with a secret meeting at Sydney’s Batemans Hotel.

The men driving the new game were: The entrepreneur
James Joseph Giltinan, the great cricketer Victor Trumper,
the influential politician Henry Clammond Hoyle. The
supreme master stroke being the signing of Rugby Unions
champion Herbert Henry Dally Messenger at a fee of 180
pounds. In the summer of 1907-08 more meetings resulting
in the formation of 9 clubs: Glebe, Newtown, South
Sydney, Eastern Suburbs, Western Suburbs, Balmain,
North Sydney, Newcastle which only lasted until 1909,
and Cumberland. However Cumberland had trouble
enticing sufficient players and was forced to amalgamate
with Western Suburbs the following season. Rugby
League’s first season began on Easter Monday 1908 on a
wave of unrivalled enthusiasm. To South Sydney went the
honour of being Rugby Leagues first champions 14-12
victors over Eastern Suburbs in the premiership final. Over
the years more teams have been introduced to make an
expanded competition, to strengthen and promote the game
locally, nationally and at this present time internationally.

The teams that have joined since the inaugural competition
include: 1910 Annandale which folded in 1920. 1920
University which folded in 1937. 1921 St George. 1935
Canterbury. 1947 Manly and Parramatta. 1967 Cronulla
and Penrith. 1982 Canberra and Illawarra. 1983 Newtown
were expelled due to financial problems. 1988 Brisbane,
Gold Coast and Newcastle. During the 1994 Rugby
League season the N.S.W. Rugby League passed a motion
to expand the 16 team competition to a 20 team
competition incorporating a team from Western Australia, 2
more teams from Queensland and a team from New
Zealand. It was also agreed to change the name from the
N.S.W Rugby League to the Australian Rugby League also
known as the A.R.L as a true reflection of what it
represents. The 1995 season promised to be the pinnacle
of the league’s endeavours with the expanded 20 teams
which included 4 new teams namely: Auckland Warriors
from New Zealand. North Queensland Cowboy’s based in
Townsville. South Queensland Crushers located in
Brisbane. Western Reds from the far west Perth. Rugby
League as a truly Australian story is abound with wonderful
characters such as – Messenger, Horder, Stehr, Churchill,
Gasnier, Raper, Reddy, Fulton, Lewis, Sterling. The
Immortals are recognised as Rugby League’s finest
post-war exponents, Clive Churchill, Reg Gasnier, John
Raper and Bob Fulton had a creative excellence that
comes along all to rarely. 3. The Conflict Between The
A.R.L and Super League. 1995 provided the League with
so much optimism, to realise their vision of a 20 team
competition and watch it come to fruition. On the 1st April
1995 the unsuspecting Australian Rugby League was out
manoeuvred in a coup when the Super League announced
its intention to form a rebel super league. This super league
was a breakaway league with its own constitution and
vision statement. The Super League had enlisted high
profile rugby league players to endorse and persuade
current players to sign with the rebel league without the
knowledge of the A.R.L The rebel league backed by Mr
Rupert Murdoch and the News Ltd. Corporation made
huge financial offers as an inducement for players to sign to
play in their competition. The A.R.L then counter attacked
signing up loyal A.R.L players with the financial backing of
Mr Kerry Packer and Optus Vision. This conflict was no
longer just about Rugby League, the intervention of these
two omnipotent individuals brought a new dimension, the
struggle for power and total dominance for the pay
television broadcasting rights. 4. Mr Rupert Murdoch verus
Mr Kerry Packer. 4.1 Murdoch, Rupert (1931- )
Australian-born media magnate, who boosted the
circulation of many of his newspapers by creating a tabloid
mix of sex, crime, and sports stories topped with giant
sensationalised headlines. He was born in Melbourne,
Australia, and educated at Oxford University. He became a
United States citizen in 1985. Murdoch returned to
Australia in 1954 and took charge of the Adelaide News
(sold in 1987 and closed in 1992), a marginally profitable
afternoon daily paper. Applying his Daily Express
experience, he created the giant sensationalised headlines
that were to become his trademark, and the paper’s
readership soared. Murdoch started building his media
empire with the purchase of a Perth Sunday newspaper in
1956, and in 1960 he entered the Sydney market by
acquiring the Sydney Daily and Sunday Mirror. His
hard-sell promotions and lurid stories boosted the
circulation’s of both papers. In 1964 Murdoch founded
Australia’s first national newspaper, the Australian, which
featured national and international news, investigative
reporting, and local issues. By 1968 his Australian empire
of newspapers, magazines, and broadcasting stations was
worth an estimated $50 million. Murdoch then bought
control of the Sunday News of the World, a sensationalist
London paper aimed at the working classes, and the
foundering London daily Sun, a stodgy liberal paper.

Circulation soared, and he went on to purchase other
British newspapers and broadcasting interests. In 1981 he
acquired the renowned London Times and Sunday Times.

His holdings expanded to include Fox Broadcasting, for
which he assumed the chairman and chief executive roles in
1992, and TV Guide (acquired in 1988). By 1989
Murdoch’s empire included newspapers, television stations,
a movie studio, publishing houses, magazines, and large
shares in news services. But by 1991 his Australia-based
News Corp. had also accumulated immense debts, which
resulted in his selling most of his American magazine
holdings. 4.2 Packer Kerry (1937- ) The family controlled
media group known as Australian Consolidated Press Ltd.

He controls of the media empire that includes A.C.P and
Channel 9 and has interests in newspapers, sub and
provincial, Sydney and Melbourne television radio stations
in Victoria and Western Australia, land development,
Leisure Resorts and television and film productions. In
1977 Mr Kerry Packer offered top cricketers lucrative
contracts to play in teams for his World Series Cricket. 5.

The Vision of the Super League. 5.1 Selected clubs were
presented on 6th February 1995 with a 36 page proposal
and slide presentation of Super League’s vision of the
game, not only in Australia but throughout the world. The
proposal addressed all the problems currently experienced
in the game by players and clubs and provided an exciting
plan to guarantee that the super league competition would
be the best rugby league competition in the world. The
Super League would be played in the initial years in the
strong holds of Australia, England and New Zealand
culminating with a World Series that will be played in
various venues and televised throughout the world. 5.2 Ten
teams comprised of the: Auckland, Broncos, Bulldogs,
Canberra, Newcastle Mariners, Penrith Panthers, Perth
Reds, Sharks, Townsville and another team yet to be
announced, the tip is a Sydney North Shore consortium.

Melbourne and Adelaide will increase the number of teams
to 12 within 2 years. The harsh reality is that clubs cannot
compete, especially in the current chaotic climate, without a
substantial revenue base. Under Super League clubs are
guaranteed that they will receive at least $4.5 Million
annually, the clubs also have enormous opportunities to
receive major sponsorship involvement with companies
whose products extend throughout the world. Clubs not
joining the super league would miss out on the opportunity
to participate in the best competition in the world and the
financial security that goes with that opportunity. Super
league suggest that only the clubs that join will be assured
of there survival and there participation as a strong
competitive team. 5.3 Super League assure that 3 out of
the 5 games played each week will be free to air whilst the
other 2 will be available on pay television. Spectators and
supporters will be well taken care of with more football
games to watch at the game or on pay television locally,
nationally and internationally. Super League also promise to
have better facilities and venues for spectators to enjoy. 5.4
The players themselves although thrown into turmoil have
emerged with larger player payments and enormous
sign-on fees as the A.R.L and Super League contest for
their signatures. The tactics applied by both camps were
nothing short of tenacious, each reporting who they had
signed as a propaganda exercise. 5.5 The development of
the game of junior league level is the big winner under
Super League. Under the agreement clubs will be required
to spend $500000 per year on junior development. The
Super League is also in the course of preparing a major
junior league development program under which it will
develop the game through out the game this will be
separately funded by Super League. Some of the actual
Super League concepts have not been made public as yet,
the A.R.L. using innuendo as a means of scoring points. 6.

The Outcome. In 1995 it was decided by the High Court
that super league would be able to start its competition in
March of 96, But later a win by the A.R.L made it unlikely
that Super League would be able to start untill the year
2000. This win was to be short lived as the High Court
dismissed the A.R.L and made it possible for Super
League to start its competition in 1997. 7. Conclusion and
Recommendations. In conclusion this epic battle is far from
over as both camps vie for the monopolistic control of
Rugby League both as a sport and a valuable marketable
commodity. Mr Packer and Mr Murdoch are both used to
winning and getting what they want. The A.R.L. believe
Rugby League can not be owned by anyone, it is the
peoples game whereas Super League believe they have the
right to exploit Rugby League for the good of the game as
there reason. The A.R.L. spent 87 years building this great
Australian sporting icon which encompasses cameraderie
and mateship, national pride, humour and courage, bravery
and skill, spectacular feats of athleticism and great drama.

The traditions have been established the legacy should
remain. Can Rugby League be bought or sold out ? In my
opinion the values of life are not for sale at any price.

Rugby League has evolved over the years, nurtured into the
dynamic game as it is today. What right does anyone have
to take-over and exploit rugby league for their own
financial benefit. Some of the Super League concepts have
merit but I believe the A.R.L. should run Rugby League
“The Greatest Game of All”. 8. References. Newspapers:-
The Newcastle Herald. The Sun-Herald. The Sunday
Telegraph. The Telegraph. Books and Magazines:- The
Kangaroos Ian Heads. The Rebels of Rugby Bob Power.

Action ’85 Gary Lester. Concise Australian Encyclopaedia
Angus and Robertson Publisher. Green and Gold Heroes
Rugby League Week Publisher. Rugby League Week
Magazines. Summary. This report investigates the epic
battle between the Australian Rugby League and the Super
League concept for the control of Rugby League in
Australia. This report reviews the history of the Australian
Rugby League, the battle between Mr.Murdoch and
Mr.Packer, the battle of who controls pay television, the
players future and junior development. This conflict is
mainly based on power, greed and money. The main
aspects included in this report are the topics surrounding
the controversial Super League. I explore the history of the
A.R.L. as opposed to the rebel league’s vision, the
confrontation of the A.R.L. and Super League and some
background information on the two protagonists Mr Rupert
Murdoch and Mr Kerry Packer. In conclusion the
traditions and loyalties established by the A.R.L. into the
game as we know it today are on the brink of being
destroyed because of another mans vision for power and
money. Table of Contents. Summary 1.Introduction. 2.The
History of the A.R.L. 3.The Conflict between the A.R.L.

and Super League. 4.Mr Rupert Murdoch verus Mr Kerry
Packer. 4.1 Murdoch Rupert. 4.2 Packer Kerry. 5.The
Vision of the Super League. 5.1 The Clubs. 5.2 The
Teams. 5.3 Pay Television Rights. 5.4 The Players. 5.5
Junior Development. 6.The Outcome. 7.Conclusion and
Recommendations. 8.References.

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