Only in rugby league could the governing body introduce something as simple as a new logo and it cause such consternation among the rank and file. Sure, social media’s reaction wasn’t Alan Jones, #DestroyTheJoint white hot, but the tone was unambiguously negative.
Boring, too much like Cricket Australia, amateurish, 1980s … these were the oft-repeated knocks.
I actually reckon it looks really good – the shield and the V (or, if we’re being pretentious, ‘chevrons’) are traditional rugby league icons, the southern cross is a ubiquitous Australian symbol, and in general it looks sleek and modern. My only mild criticism is the space-age font, but overall it looks terrific.
The critics also fail to acknowledge the bold effort to unify the game under the one badge. The NRL, Toyota Cup, Origin, NSW, Queensland, affiliate states, One Community logos all follow the same shield-and-chevron design, and this consistent branding is a sophisticated approach that bodes well for the future of the game. It’s another inevitable step in the future of the Commission, alongside the Moore Park bunker, that adds to the code’s professionalism.
The other primary criticism was that the New Zealand Warriors will be wearing a different premiership logo to the rest of the comp, rather, they have their own black-and-silver version. It is peculiar that one team is an exception to the rule (the Toronto Raptors, Toronto Blue Jays and the raft of Canadian NHL teams seem to manage), especially considering if the League was being literal, the competition would have to be called the Inter-National Rugby League.
The logo re-branding was the headline act of today’s announcement of a five-year plan, another integral step in the maturation of the game. Two key points stuck out: the first was the creation of an NRL Growth Fund that seeks to avail $200 million for community projects, which demonstrates a newfound appetite to centralise funding and distribute it to the grass roots.
The second was the 400,000 members, 20,000 average crowds. Ambitious, but do-able, and an important target to meet. It’s easy to forget how rapid the growth of AFL memberships was: when the AFL instituted their Commission in 1985, Hawthorn had less than 8,000 members, a similar number to most NRL clubs at the moment. Last season, the Hawks sold over 60,000 memberships. John Grant’s master plan might seem pie in the sky, but the AFL has already gone down this path and then some.
Another head-scratcher out of the day was how Grant and his Commish had time to draw up these snazzy new tags while they still haven’t found a replacement for ex-CEO David Gallop, who was sacked last June. The Commission has been panned for not doing much, but considering the quality of the season we just witnessed, I can’t help but be reminded of The Office episode after Deangelo Vickers winds up in a coma, and Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch manages to work more efficiently without a manager. Shane Mattiske seems like a sensible man doing a sensible job in a sport that had often lacked sensibleness. Long may stability continue … under the new logo, of course.