THERE HAVE BEEN FEW more important or revolutionary developments in rugby league history than the establishment of the Australian Rugby League Commission in 2012. A football code that had just celebrated its 100th birthday was entering a new era.
Much was promised, some of which has been delivered.
Seven years on, and it is a curious thing about rugby league in Australia that while most rugby league fans are aware their game is run by a Commission, very few could tell you the names of the Commissioners or exactly what they do. In The Commission We Had To Have, David Trodden recalls the process that led to the Commission’s formation, lists its objectives, and explains why it could be one of the best things to ever happen to the code.
As a lifetime fan, student of league history, lawyer and prominent administrator who was part of the Australian Rugby League board that voted to create the Commission, Trodden is uniquely placed to analyse the game’s current governance structure. Once predominantly working class, rugby league has become a sporting powerhouse, a producer of heroes from Dally Messenger to Johnathan Thurston, and survivor of courtroom battles, endless controversies and the Super League War. In charting this evolution, Trodden confronts a question now facing those in charge of all major professional sports: is our game a sport or a business, or something in between? The answer has huge implications, not just at the elite level but also for the ‘grassroots’.
The Commission We Had To Have confronts some important issues for league supporters who are wondering what is happening to their game. Are the hopes and dreams of fans and the welfare of players now subservient to the protection of the ‘brand’? Have today’s administrators learned from past court cases involving Dennis Tutty, the ill-fated draft, Super League and Souths?
Where would rugby league be without its current administrative structure? Where might it be heading?
About the Author ...
David Trodden is a former Chairman and life member of Balmain Tigers Rugby League Football Club, and a former Board member and Chairman of Wests Tigers Rugby League Football Club. Trodden holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from UNSW, a Bachelor of Laws degree from UNSW and a Master of Laws degree (specialising in sports law) from University of Melbourne. In 2010, he was elected to the Board of the NSW Rugby League and the Australian Rugby League, and since August 2013 has been the Chief Executive of the NSW Rugby League. From these positions, Trodden enjoyed a unique ‘insider’s view’ of many of the events that are described in The Commission We Had To Have.