NRL clubs have thrown their support behind the ARL Commission's decision to ban the shoulder charge, despite the players' outrage over the crackdown.
At a meeting in Sydney on Wednesday, the club chief executives unanimously backed the controversial decision by the ARLC. Following the decision to ban the controversial tackle, NRL players were almost united in their anger over the move, but their bosses have sided with medical opinion and backed the commission.
The NRL's director of football operations, Nathan McGuirk, whose recommendation to the commission following a detailed report into the technique, was set to make a presentation to the group of club bosses, but ultimately was not required to. The clubs all agreed with the decision, despite players reacting so savagely to it.
''The CEOs were unanimous in endorsing the decision,'' an NRL spokesman said.
NRL officials have already stated the decision will not be revisited, despite the players - and their union - expressing their opposition. The clubs' unanimous vote of confidence, though, adds even more finality to the decision, if indeed it needed it.
The NRL's competition committee is still to discuss how the ban will be policed, and which forms of shoulder contact it will apply to.
Still, the players might still have more success when it comes to their pay packets. The salary cap and grant for next year were discussed in greater depth by the chief executives at the meeting, with the Rugby League Players' Association still trying to secure a salary cap higher than $5 million as part of their ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations with NRL officials.
A meeting on Friday between the union and leading NRL officials is hoped to accelerate those negotiations around next year's salary cap.
During Wednesday's meeting at Rugby League Central, club bosses discussed the prospect of raising the cap higher than the $5 million - which has long been foreshadowed by NRL officials. The RLPA has not yet agreed to the $5 million cap for next year, and it's believed the association wants a salary cap of $6.5 million to be spread among a larger squad of 30 players.
In their final meeting for the year, the chief executives have also set a target of averaging 20,000 a game across the NRL by 2017.
''We have committed to a strategic target of averaging 20,000 fans a game by 2017 and to do so we need to look at the capacity we have and the experience we are offering,'' the NRL's interim chief executive, Shane Mattiske, said.
As part of the process, the NRL will over the next three months undertake research into the ''needs of clubs and fans in determining the most effective stadium strategy''. The strategy will also look at the scheduling of matches in non-traditional areas and regional areas.
''We are going to have to look at every aspect of our match day and matching games to the appropriate stadiums is at heart of that,'' Mattiske said.
''This isn't about moving every match to a major venue but it is about ensuring we have the strategies in place to play matches in the most appropriate location for that match.''
Meanwhile, Parramatta's long-serving official Craig Catterick has been made redundant by the Eels. The popular Catterick had been the Eels' long-time head trainer but was recently appointed to a role as football manager. However, he left the club on Monday.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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