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The Rock-itt : May 2010
In an unprecedented incident that has send shock waves throughout the sporting world and which has our own NRL reeling, the glamour team of Australian Rugby League which has won two of the last three grand finals, Melbourne Storm, has fallen into an abyss so deep it will take years for the club to recover and restore its face of integrity. After a scandal revealed by internal NRL investigator, Ian Schubert, The Storm has been stripped of its grand final wins, and has been disallowed from adding any points to this year's competition. The Storm had been caught out rorting the salary cap law set up by the NRL to ensure that the competition would have an even playing field for all teams. This was the shock news which had me sitting speechless on the edge of my chair with an unopened bottle of VB in my hands slowly going warm as I tried to digest what I had just heard at 6pm on channel nine on Thursday 22 April 2010. As I sat in disbelief my mind wandered to other similar incidents which threatened to ruin and bring their relative sport into disrepute. In 1919, eight players from the American Baseball team, The Chicago White Sox, were kicked out for life for throwing the 1919 series for cash. In the sport of cricket, Hansie Cronje, the South African Cricket Captain was shown the door for taking money for game fixing. In horse racing, it was said of the great Australian horse, Pharlap, that he was poisoned to end his winning streak, and in boxing how many times have we heard of boxers throwing fights for cash. These are a mere few incidents. Not ever wanting to bring politics into our sports section of The Rock- itt or any other section of the magazine for that matter, both The editor and I agreed for once that something on this occasion about this issue had to be said. As we know, head of the NRL, David Gallop has made a decision to strip The Storm of their premiership wins in 2007 over the Manly Sea Eagles and also in 2009 over Parramatta Eels. The Storm has been allowed to play out the rest of the 2010 season but all points won by the team would become null and void. There is certainly no doubt that David Gallop has reacted to this issue fast and severely, coming down harshly on the perpetrators of the salary cap violation. But now that some of the dust has started to settle should the penalty be reviewed ASAP so as the rest of the 2010 competition is not downgraded in which direction it unfortunately appears to be heading. Surely there is a minority group within the Melbourne club which are the guilty party and if these individuals can be separated from the rest of the club and be made to pay the price for their transgressions, then the innocent majority of Melbourne Storm can be left to get on with the rest of the 2010 season. According to reports, there are only a few players who have been getting the under the counter payments to keep them at The Storm, so why not give them the opportunity to stand down leaving the door opened once more for the Melbourne club to rejoin NRL competition. In the administration side of the club, let the guilty ones be stood down as well. Why should the rest of The Storm team, the honest administrators who have done nothing wrong and the Punters who have supported the club all the way and have done nothing wrong be punished? I agree that an immediate measure had to be implemented when the rort was first discovered but it is not too late to revise the penalty and get the 2010 competition back on an even keel with The Storm included. After all, no one has been murdered here, just a bit of hanky panky with the till. I hope that somehow David Gallop gets the message and does reconsider. Rugby League in Melbourne is an integral part of a national league competition and for the infrastructure of the future of rugby league to stand solid and in place, wise decisions are needed to be made even if the decision has to be reversed. This has been a devastating time for the game but why not turn it around and show that no matter what ever trials and tribulations confront us in the future, we are capable of handling them and Rugby League, the greatest game of all, will be there for future generations of Australians to play, watch and enjoy. by Rock-itt Rugby League Journalist Paddy McClellan