OPINION: Changes the BRL must consider in 2019
OPINION: Mike Ireland will have plenty of time to work on new ideas when he serves as Bundaberg Rugby League's chairman for his ninth season.
Ireland was elected unopposed at the BRL's annual general meeting yesterday.
"The board has done a good job over the last few years because there wasn't too much change across executive or club level,” he said. "It was pretty good for the BRL, so we're obviously doing things well.”
He said he would have more time to devote to the league after his retirement from the workforce in February, and has flagged a number of initiatives for clubs to consider.
Among those are a desire for A-grade games to be played on both Saturday and Sunday, and he wants clubs, where possible, to play all matches in all grades - under-18, reserves, A-grade and women - at one venue on the same day.
These should be simple, no-brainer ideas quickly agreed upon by clubs. It should be how things are already run.
Overall, there were 18 suggestions - 11 came from Ireland himself - which clubs will consider ahead of the next BRL meeting on December 2.
There are three key changes the competition has to make to strengthen the league: home and away fixtures, better scheduling of women's games, and a home final for the club that finishes as the A-grade minor premiers.
Most clubs already have a home ground, but clubs play regularly at only four: Hervey Bay's Stafford Park, Eskdale Park at Maryborough, Childers Showground at Childers, and the home of the BRL, Bundaberg's Salter Oval.
Past Brothers and Waves are lucky to use their grounds for games once a season as well.
With the majority of games at Salter Oval, it robs the league of genuine feeling in some games. There's no home ground advantage in the BRL, unlike the majority of other leagues on the east coast where players step into another club's fortress every fortnight.
Tribalism is such an important aspect of sports culture, and nothing sucks the life out of that more than a generic venue with little soul.
It is what takes away from some major semi-finals.
Yes, they are popular games which attract crowds, but if you're from one of the four clubs from outside of Bundaberg you forfeit any advantage other regions enjoy as being the best team that season.
The minor premiers deserve the choice to host the major semi-final. The BRL and clubs can organise a way to share the income generated by the occasion, but Wallaroos this year (and Hervey Bay from 2015 to 2017) should have had the opportunity to thank fans for their support in a major game.
The region's female footballers deserve better than to start their games before noon, and should be showcased immediately before or after A-grade.
The female competition is one of the most exciting aspects of rugby league today, and the BRL risks losing players to other regions - or codes - with the current draw.
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