If the Chairman of the ARLC, John Grant, and his CEO, David Smith, have even the remotest commitment to the history and the integrity of the game, they will insist that heads roll at the ARLC/NRL headquarters tomorrow.
The decision to launch the season at a casino shows poor judgement – but we can overlook that as I am sure some financial deal was involved. But the revelation in the Telegraph this afternoon that three of the games legends, and two of them arguably the best in their playing positions in our history, have not been invited is just inexcusable.
The omission of Reg Gasnier, John Raper and Graeme Langlands from the guest list is being excused by the NRL as an “oversight” which they are trying to correct – but only after the Telegraph outed this incompetence. I have some history when it comes to organising major rugby league events – in the period when the game was run by people like Kevin Humphreys, Ron McAuliffe and Ken Arthurson.
I can assure readers that such an appalling over sight simply would not have happened then. I worked closely with Ron McAuliffe on every event held by the QRL, and often in conjunction with the ARL, for close to a decade.
The one area he personally oversaw, even when he was away in Canberra as a Member of the Senate, was the invitation list for major events – such as season launches, pre test dinners and anniversaries. And he did not have the benefit of email access etc…….
That is why I cannot recall once occasion in that decade when we overlooked inviting a former test or representative player who should have been invited. Never!
I know the ARL and NSWRL, under the Humphreys, Arthurson and Bellew administrations, we just as exacting. The fact that three of the games immortals have been overlooked for the season launch simply defies comprehension.
Back in the McAuliffe era, the QRL office had a staff of three, and a group of volunteers myself included. The ARL office in Sydney had a similar number. But the events the two leagues organised were high quality – and everyone who should be there was there!
I was fortunate to grow up in the era when John Raper, Graeme Langlands and Reg Gasnier were at their very best. Reg Gasnier went on to have a distinguished broadcasting career, and John Raper was for many years a National and NSW selector. They, and Graeme Langlands, are part of the rugby league legend. Their place in its history is honoured and deserved. That surely deserves at least one head rolling at NRL headquarters tomorrow.
And a good hard look by the Grant/Smith administration at the way the place is run, and the processes that are in place to avoid such an appalling oversight.