Wednesday Whinge – State of Origin

Here we are. State of Origin time again in the eastern states. That time of the year where the NRL grabs the nation’s sporting headlines and puts on a spectacle for all to see. As a South Australian, we don’t get fully exposed to the media or the rivalry over here. But having been over in Sydney at Origin time and to ANZ Stadium at a Blues win, there really is nothing quite like it. An awesome sporting event.

And right on cue at this time every year, the old debate about whether the AFL should reinvent State of Origin gets bandied around.

Well. Enough. I’m sick of this debate. So let’s end it now once and for all. Here are five reasons why State of Origin will never and should never return to the AFL scene.

One – Who would the game be between? South Australia and Victoria? Victoria and Tasmania? Western Australia and South Australia? The AFL is a national competition now. Well except for Tasmania, but we won’t go there. There are no massive rivalries that exist between the states anymore. That is gone. Over the weekend 4,319 people went to a SANFL versus VFL game. This game used to be huge. Now it hardly gets mentioned.

Two – There is no place for it on the calendar. Even if the draw was to be further tampered with, there is simply no time for a representative match. Now some people will argue the same about the NRL, and I think that the scheduling in that competition needs work too. But the AFL season already spans from April to October. I can’t see the players agreeing to any more extensions of the season without more and more coin.

Three – Clubs won’t allow it. The risk of injuries to a some of the best players is a major issue. Imagine Buddy Franklin running out in an Origin match and then being ruled out for the rest of the year because of injury. That could potentially deny Sydney a premiership. Premierships are the ultimate in the AFL. I’d argue NRL players put representative footy on an equal, if not greater pedestal than a premiership.

Four – There are so many more issues that need to be fixed in the AFL before State of Origin footy should even be thought about. Fixture reform, equalisation, the level of umpiring and goal review technology just to name a few. Get that right and focus on improving the game that already exists before even thinking about adding another element that will expose these issues in the sport.

Five – Ultimately, the AFL doesn’t need State of Origin footy. There is already enough drama and blockbusters throughout an AFL season, that I don’t think representative footy would add to. There are indigenous rounds, big rivalry games and ANZAC Day games that provide big event sport. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I think it would just cause more issues than it would solve.

So when you tune into the big game tonight, by all means enjoy it. Embrace it! It is a great concept, but one that isn’t needed back in Aussie Rules. Leave it to rugby league and see it as a success for that sport, rather than a failure for another one.

Turn it up! 

Adelaide Oval is a world class venue. Don’t get me wrong. I think I’m not alone when I say that over the past two years or so, I’ve enjoyed watching history being made. Great sporting moments that people will never forget. 

Adelaide Crows small forward Eddie Betts has kicked two of the best goals in AFL you’ll ever see there.

Port Adelaide have transformed game day experiences for fans and players alike. I mean if I’m saying it than it must be alright. 

The Oval hosted the first ever day night test match where 123,000 people went through the gate over three days. 
India played Pakistan in a Cricket World Cup blockbuster which was loud. Very loud.

 In more recent times, Adelaide United won their first A-league title there earlier this year.

There is one thing holding Adelaide Oval back though. Watch any event at the ground from the Riverbank Stand and you’ll be able to see it perfectly. Unfortunately, you might not be able to hear it however. The sound system in that stand is absolutely terrible. It has been since day one of the redevelopment. 

I’m no expert, but the speakers are facing the crowd, which appears to project the sound to the back of the stand and the roof, where it rebounds causing a muffled, stifled noise that is impossible to decipher. 

Surely in 2016 where we can have people watching from the roof, this isn’t that hard to fix. Go anywhere else in the ground and the sound system is great. 

The mumble of noise in the Riverbank Stand really detracts from events like the indigenous celebrations prior to the Adelaide, GWS game last weekend. I’m sure it was a great ceremony, but you couldn’t hear anything that was being said from up in that southern grandstand. It robs those up there of the awesome atmosphere the ground has created for itself. 

Ground announcers might as well not be there. They cannot be heard. Period. Neither can music, on-field entertainment or interviews. 

It also raises the issue of safety. What if people have to be evacuated quickly? How would people be able to hear instructions if the sound is so terrible? 

So Adelaide Oval is fantastic, but let’s make the experience just that one bit better for everyone. Fix the sound system. Please. Can anybody hear me?! 

A very brave new world for netball. 

There is no doubt that the Trans-Tasman ANZ Championship needs a revamp. Introduced in 2008, the competition has increased the Australia, New Zealand rivalry, produced some outstanding games of netball and attracted the world’s best players to the two countries. It has been fantastic for the sport, not only in Australia and New Zealand, but globally too. In recent times though, the competition has began to feel stale. There seems to be too much talent sitting on the benches and in eight seasons, only one New Zealand based team has won a Grand Final.

So I agree, time for a change. But change in a sporting competition needs to be really well thought out. It cannot include aspects that leave your sport and your audience worse off in the long run.

Last week it was announced that Netball Australia would end their association with the Trans-Tasman competition. The two countries are to break away into their own individual competitions. In Australia, three new teams are to be created and the five current Australian teams retained.

These three new teams will be off-shoots from AFL teams, GWS and Collingwood, as well as from NRL team the Melbourne Storm.

Here is where I have some concerns. Are these ‘brother’ clubs if you like, really serious about the game of netball or is this purely a marketing, goodwill gesture aimed at other things other than furthering the future of netball in this country? Did Collingwood only do this to increase their chances of getting a licence in the new Women’s AFL competition? What benefits do these ‘brother’ clubs gain apart from monetary value for having their brand associated with the new competition? I sincerely hope Netball Australia has looked into this. What happens when one of these new netball teams is struggling and hurting the brand of the ‘brother’. Do they pull out? When things get tough, are the ‘brothers’ going to be a shoulder to cry on?

The Queensland team is likely to be based from the Sunshine Coast and the GWS team from the west of Sydney, which will prevent an over saturation of the market and reduce the hurt on the current teams in those states. But is Melbourne ready for another netball team. How will this impact the Vixens? Perhaps Geelong would have been a better starting point.

My other issue is with the broadcasting of this competition. Two games will be shown back to back on a Saturday night on the Nine Network. Notice the use of the word ‘network’ here. Most likely, 9Go! will be netball’s new home. Just think about that for a minute. Four games a round. Two of them live, buried on a secondary channel on a Saturday night. A night where netball will compete for the most part against AFL, NRL, Super Rugby and A-League. The other two games will be shown on delay. Delay. What is this, 1999? Delayed sport might as well not be shown at all in this instant gratification world we live in.

Your other option is to watch these games on the Netball Live App through Telstra. Without mentioning Telstra’s recent troubles, if you are a netball fan locked into another network, there is a fair chance you will no longer be able to see your team regularly live. Restricting your audience in a sport that doesn’t have a huge one to start with is absolutely mad.

Currently games are scattered across the weekend and all, I repeat ALL of them are live on Foxtel. Yes, netball needs free to air TV exposure, but if you love sport or even just netball, there is a fair chance you either have Foxtel anyway or you’d be far more likely to sign up to subscription TV with the guarantee of seeing your team live every week. Is anybody going to change phone networks with the only benefit being able to watch the game on a small screen?

I understand this broadcasting deal is going to pump more money into the game. That is fantastic news and should never have taken this long to occur. But without an audience, this money is not going to be around for long. Your diehards will always find a way to watch, but you won’t attract new audiences in silly time slots, with delayed games and without regular exposure on a major channel. Isn’t searching for a greater audience the point of having free to air exposure in the first place?

So they way I see it is this. Other sports bank rolling netball is a risk. Netball is never going to be their main focus, which is an issue. More talent will be on the court, which is great. But at what cost to the current teams? In particular the Vixens. The game can’t grow with netball on a secondary channel or a mobile phone network. So where is this new audience and in turn more money going to come from down the track?

I hope Netball Australia can answer all these questions or we may not have a competition after the five year deal is up.

 

 

 

 

Crow Call – Round 10

Your Thursday night wrap of all the selection news at the Adelaide Football Club.

Ins –

Outs –

Unchanged

The Verdict – 

The Crows come up against a fast paced outfit in the Giants this week. The Giants have never won at the Adelaide Oval, but they’ve showed this year that they are in a mood to do things for the first time.

Charlie Cameron might need to have some big midfield minutes on Saturday night to add a bit of pace to the middle of the ground. Wouldn’t mind Mitch McGovern being given a run in there too for some height and agility.

Would have been great to see Matt Crouch back, but as sad as it is to say it, I no longer think you can play him and Scott Thompson in the same side. Maybe you never could. They don’t offer enough point of difference unfortunately.

Brad Crouch is stiff to miss out. The ridiculous, bordering on insane third bye in six weeks for the Crows SANFL team is not helping his cause. The same could be said of Cam Ellis-Yolmen and even Harrison Wigg. The latter will now have his third straight week without footy after being the travelling emergency for the Gold Coast game. Silly. I just feel the midfield needs something different. Ellis Yolmen’s height? Gore’s ability to burst from the middle? Watch this space in the coming weeks.

Having said all that, it is good to see Lyons hold his place. I really hope he cements it now.

I didn’t understand the VB selection last week and I do not agree with it again tonight. He has been a great servant for the club, but what the Crows need right now are pace and elite ball skills. Not traits Van Berlo has.

Speaking of elite ball skills, the run of Seedsman and Smith will be vital this week. If history is anything to go by, the ball will spend a lot of time heading down to the defensive end. Both these players have been off in recent weeks. If they can get it right, that will go a long way in giving the midfield a hand and getting the ball forward.

We can only assume Laird still isn’t fit.  Otherwise why wouldn’t you have in him there for a direct swap with Ricky Henderson?  He trained well didn’t he? Henderson just doesn’t use the ball well enough for mine. Maybe he just needs some more minutes.

The Crows can win this game if the midfield can provide the forward line with enough entries. Sounds simple, but in the losses this year, the entries just haven’t happened enough. Teams have locked it down back after dominating the clearances in the middle. We’ve seen what can happen when the ball does enter Adelaide’s forward 50. It is just a matter of it occurring often enough.

Adelaide has a history of performing well in the newly named Sir Douglas Nicholls Indigenous Round. Who could forget Jared Petrenko’s sealer agains the Roos to steal that famous game in 2013? Eddie Betts’ goal of the year in the 2015 edition of the round is also one, no Crows fan will ever forget. Along with Betts, it will be great to see Milera and Cameron out there on the weekend. Both have the potential to be stars of the future for the footy club.

In summary, I think the Giants will have too much speed for the Crows this week and like the Geelong and Bulldogs games before it, this game will be won in the middle.

Giants by 27 points.

Wednesday Whinge – AFL Rules 

As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The AFL’s constant tweaking with the rules over the past few years has reached breaking point 9 weeks into the 2016 home and away season.

Last week it was reported that a memo was sent to the clubs warning that a stricter interpretation was about to be applied to the rushed behind rule.

Hawthorn Acting Captain Jordan Lewis said it best on AFL 360 on Fox Footy last night. ‘Why is there a rule of the week?’ Why can’t the umpiring and interpretations be the same from week to week?

It is a fair point. I’d go further and ask why the umpires stopped penalising the deliberate rushed behind in the first place? It disappeared for a good few seasons. Not how I understood rules to work. They’re either there or they’re not.

It’s no different to the police suddenly not penalising speeding for a while only for a few years later to go, actually no we are going to start policing that again, albeit with the law staying the same the whole time.

As fans, all we ask for is consistency. If clubs are getting memos and different rules are being focussed upon from week to week, we are a long way from where we need to be in terms of policing the game. If fans are confused, you can bet your bottom dollar, umpires and players are as well.

This is no more evident than with the deliberate out of bounds rule, which may have reduced stoppages and opened the game up, but lead to massive uncertainty from players, umpires and fans alike. Players even now stand at the boundary line, not contesting the ball waiting for it to go out so that they receive a free kick. That’s not AFL.

Port Adelaide defender Tom Jonas’ hit on Andrew Gaff over the weekend reignited the send off rule debate. Could you imagine the muddle and potentially game changing consequences this law could cause in today’s footy environment.

If the open style play, with fewer stoppages is the way the game needs to go, great. But let’s not have another rule change for say 5 years. Allow the umpires to work out how to consistently interpret all the current rules. Focus then on interpreting these laws the same way every game, every  week.

Who knows, that might also help to open the game up, and it will surely aid fans, players and umpires with understanding a bit more why decisions are being made.

Game On! Why Adelaide Needs the Commonwealth Games

The 2018 Commonwealth Games are set to be held in the sporting capital of Australia, the Gold Coast. Hang on. What? No. The Gold Coast isn’t even in the top 5 for sporting capitals of Australia. If the party capital can host the big event, surely so could Adelaide.

Hot on the heels of the success of the redeveloped Adelaide Oval, a Reds A-League win and an reinvigorated NBL, there’s been no better time for a Commonwealth Games bid.

We live in a state that could use jobs more than anything right now. It’s beyond crisis point. I don’t think some people realise quite how bad it is.

Just think, a purpose built soccer stadium for the Reds and Socceroos, a brand new venue for the Sixers and Thunderbirds to share and a massive velodrome to host world class cycling events that can compliment the Tour Down Under. We’ve already got a world class swimming centre at Marion. Location not perfect, but it’s there.

Jobs would be created in building these structures and created to run these venues before, during and after the event.

There was already a half commitment at the last election to extend the tram line to all parts of the city. Accessibility wouldn’t be an issue. It might even help Adelaide have a decent public transport system. Imagine that! (Yeah I know we can dream).

Yes it will be expensive. But so is having thousands of people unemployed, no economy and no reason to visit the state. The flow on benefits to the regions could be enormous. And unlike the Games, everyone leaves with the gold medal.

It’s a idea that, if successful could have long lasting benefits over the next few decades. It might fasten up what is quickly becoming another drawn out saga in the Riverbank redevelopment. A bid might encourage a bigger bridge to be built across the Torrens (who decided a narrow bridge would work in the first place) and encourage new hotel chains to set up in Adelaide with the greater tourism demand.

It would also ensure big international events have a reason to call Adelaide home. There have been some massive gains in recent times with the Adelaide Fringe Festival, WOMADelaide and the Clipsal 500. All attracting masses of interstate and international names and guests.

Adelaide Oval proved that if you build it, they will come. And a Commonwealth Games bid is just the opening to years of success for the state. We can’t afford not to.

Gold Coast – Where Sport Goes to Die

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Footy should never have been taken to the Gold Coast. And it’s not too late the fix the mess.

The AFL has to admit it made a mistake. A gutsy mistake, but a mistake that has to be fixed and soon.

An endless array of nightclubs. A party scene like no other. One of Australia’s best holiday destinations. Check. Check. Check. While it might be the party capital of Australia, there isn’t room for football in this part of the world. From the moment you step of off the plane, it is clear this is a holiday destination. The majority of people here are tourists. Or koala figures dressed up in super hero gear, but mainly tourists. Tourists who aren’t going to go to the footy and fork out $50 bucks for a semi decent ticket. And the locals, with perfect weather and leisure activities at your doorstep, why would you choose footy on the weekends?

The AFL only had to look at other sports who’ve tried to make it work here. I mean if Clive Palmer had an idea to back a team on the Gold Coast, you must realise that’s proof enough to not go through with the idea.

From the A-League’s Gold Coast United to the NBL’s Gold Coast Blaze and the NRL’s constant cultural issues with the Gold Coast Titans, sport simply doesn’t work here. It’s the wrong environment. And that is ok. That’s allowed to be the case. We just need to realise it.

I get it though, millions of dollars has been spent on this venture, why would you pull the plug now? The Suns and the AFL will attain that the Suns have been crippled by injuries over the last two years. Perhaps that’s an issue. But I argue that it’s more than that. A membership of about 11,500 after the aim was 20,000 by 2015, empty stadiums and real lack of support from the locals, it’s a problem that is going to take millions of more dollars to fix. And even then there is no guarantees.

Tasmania has been left upset about being left off the footy mall for years and the sport is no better off without them in the competition. Why not use the millions it will take to prop up the Suns and set that team up in Tasmania?

Come on AFL, admit you made the mistake, rip the band aid off now and scrap the Suns. Take football back to where it can thrive and be supported by those who allow you to have a competition in the first place.

Liam Thompson travelled to the Gold Coast over the weekend for the Gold Coast Suns v Adelaide Crows game.