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Corruption the cause of the League rot

  • February 16th, 2009

Rugby League is a magnificent gladiatorial spectacle. The Kiwi game breeds and cultivates heroes. League clubs can be important networking  focii of communities that need more such schools of leadership.

But the game has been also the prey of crooks (and allies who chose the path of least resistance) attracted by pokie money. That money rightly comes to League as a way to recirculate it back to the communities from which it is extracted.

Now there is a chance that the crooks will be sidelined permanently, and League’s administration can improve to match the quality of the game.

The Review team led by Sir John Anderson has produced a characteristically forthright report. It does not pull its punches about corruption, though surprisingly the Stuff report does not find those jabs. Sir John and Sue Suckling, who presented the report to the District Leagues, were even more direct in person.  

Some of my Wellington District League colleagues have been waiting for that vindication for years. Thank you Sir John.

The recommendations are designed to make it harder for the corrupt to determine who controls the game.

The current Board should not be tarred with this brush, just because they have to resign to enable the new structure. I think Ray Haffendon has done well, with dignity under fire.

The problems would never have got so far if the Department of Internal Affairs had excised more of the crooks with timely prosecutions. Instead some of the targets of their prosecutions seem to have chosen by the DIA for the crooks.

League is a reminder of why there must be zero tolerance for corruption. Even small amounts of it, when seen to succeed, corrode trust comprehensively.

We should accept no excuses. In League as I’ve observed things the  corruption has not been "tribal" nor organised on ethnic lines, but people accustomed to the use of power to prefer kin may have had less resistance to it.

It is not the New Zealand way, and now League has a chance to hold its head up for longer than the weeks after a World Cup game.


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