GUEST POST: ItsMitchell180 says “Settle petals, Dave Smith isn’t here to take all our money”.


The Summer of Guest, people!

I proclaim this the Summer of Guest!

In our first guest post earlier this week, long-time Roosters disciple DMW discussed how the NRL needs to take a cue from its clubs and learn from their mistakes and successes, keeping one eye firmly inward while it looks to expand. TV, the old guard at the NRL, the new regime and gambling were all in the cross hairs.

Today, we take a different tack, and give a platform to a Melbourne Storm supporter with a notable affinity for the current regime.

Yes, a fucking Melbourne Storm supporter on 26 Rounds. I might as well let a Souths fan root my mum now.

Unless you’ve muted the term #crisis on Twitter or BLOCKED him altogether as many of us have done in the past 12 months, you may have run into @ItsMitchell180 on social media.

He’s the guy that posts Simpsons images on a minute-by-minute basis, oblivious to the fact the show hasn’t been funny for 15 years. And many people think he’s oblivious to the conspiracy going on at the moment. You’ve heard the conspiracy, right? How Dave Smith was born to ruin rugby league, take all its money and take the food directly out of the mouths of babies?

Well, Mitch is here to debunk the myth — and while I disagree with Mitch on a daily basis on Twitter with regards to pretty much everything he ever says, on this occasion I have to agree with him. So sit back, crank the crisis meter up to 11 and feel free to abuse or applaud him in the comments section below or on Twitter.

Settle petals, Dave Smith isn’t here to take all our money.

by @ItsMitchell180

This may come as shock to you all — as I don’t think any media organisation has said anything about it — but Dave Smith, the NRL CEO, is from the banking sector.

I have seen, heard and been bewildered by the general hate aimed at Smith during his 11 months in the top job. The hate from a certain newspaper is no shock (and we all know why), but the vitriol from fans for the most part has been ludicrous.

I have been told I have my head in the sand and, thinking back, maybe that’s where my head has been. Maybe Dave Smith was brought in to raise the cost of everything from memberships to tickets, food and drink and line his own pockets with that extra money, laughing while the game spirals out of control.


Or maybe I just don’t buy into ridiculous conspiracy theories.

The thing about Dave Smith is that he is from the banking industry, and I admit it’s just so un-rugby league. He replaced David Gallop who, as a former club cricketer, got involved in rugby league in the summer of 94-95 and became the Legal Affairs Manager for Super League.

A lawyer from Super League… Smith simply can’t compete with that, because if there are two things the rugby league public loves, it’s lawyers and Super League.

Sarcasm aside, let’s take a look back for a second. Gallop was sacked three months after the Independent Commission came into control of the game. “Reactive, not proactive” was the famous line used by John Grant and for the most part he was right, but having said that there’s not much that Gallop or anyone could do with the game under the News Ltd regime.

One can only assume what happened during those three months under Gallop before he was let go; all we can go on is what Dave Smith did in his first 11.

The first major announcement was a long-overdue restructure of the business. For far too long the players have kept the game ticking; it was time the business took the pressure off. The appointments of Todd Greenberg as head of football and Jim Doyle as Chief Operating Officer have been excellent appointments (Doyle especially with his role in the newly-formed integrity unit).

The dirty word that gets people pissed seems to be “business”, but like it or lump it sport is now a business. And in business if your front office is behind the times then no matter how good your product is it will ultimately fail.

The ASADA investigation has been going almost a year, but the process the NRL has gone through has shown to be the correct one.

Here’s a small sample of the things Smith has done in his first 11 months in charge: the link up with Touch Football Australia; the first real review of the salary cap in 15 years; changes to and emphasis of the NSW Cup and pathways; the list goes on.

Are the refs in #crisis? Yes, there were a few stinkers last year, but there were many the year before, and the year before that and the year before that.  Find me a sporting competition in the world where referees aren’t an issue; heck, tennis has to use satellite technology or GPS or whatever it is with Hawkeye to determine if a ball ends up on the line or not and they have something like 10 “touchies”. Although with the quality of linesmen these days, perhaps that’s the only answer.


The schedule? You can hardly blame Smith for the complaints about that, considering it was drawn up before he was appointed and is largely dictated by TV…

[STFU MITCH!!!! – JJ.]

…but to avoid Jake being sued, I won’t say anything about Channel 9 because, as we know, it’s “The Home of Rugby League” (except for the 62.5 per cent of games that appear on Fox every week), is “free” (except for the cost of the TV) and “live” (except for two of the three games).

[Thanks Mitch… kinda – JJ.]

Did ticket prices rise for the high-end games? Yes. Do I have a reason? No, but I do know even under “Rugby League Man” Gallop, going to a Titans game was hurtful to my wallet. And for the most part, my eyes.

But think about it: did Dave Smith apply for the job, go through the interview process and accept a job with the greatest scrutiny in Australian sport, just to take money from the rugby league public and line his own pockets?

(It’s also nice for a change to have a CEO unconcerned with other codes and simply concentrating on the game he is in control of.  I don’t think Dave Smith has the letters AFL nor the words Rugby Union or Soccer in his vocabulary, whereas former boss Gallop has had some words come back to embarrass him recently when talking about the public interest in the Big Bash League.)

In my humble opinion — and yes, I am clearly in the Pro-Dave Smith group — he has done a fantastic job. He was brought in to make decisions for the game’s future, and he’s made a long list of significant and positive changes to the game in just 11 months in the top job.

Are there more things that need to be done? Yes of course, but for the first time the game has direction and I couldn’t be more confident for the future.

If you have lasted this long, I apologise and thank you for reading. If you disagree that is fine [all Mitch does is disagree on Twitter after all – JJ], but do me a favour and put down the newspaper, and judge the man on his results rather than the opinions of those who may have more than a vested interest in Smith’s downfall.


23 responses to “GUEST POST: ItsMitchell180 says “Settle petals, Dave Smith isn’t here to take all our money”.

  1. I agree Dave Smith has done a great job since he took over from David “boring same old same old” gallop. He is bringing more money into the game whilst being big enough to realise he needed help in the football side of things to bring in Greenberg and Doyle to help run that side of the game while he goes about securing and making RL into the great business it should and will be.

    Possibly the greatest thing he has achieved so far in he’s short time is the merging of touch football with RL. This is something gallop couldn’t or didn’t even try to do and has put participation figures through the roof, AFL does this with auskick, whilst making the game so much more accessible through the whole of Australia and hopefully NZ.

    Dave Smith has been a breath of fresh air and will continue to grow the great game of RL.


      • Is there enough talent to expand? Id like to see Perth and Central Coast, maybe even Adelaide. But a watered down product wouldnt be great — I like 16 teams, which would mean relocation… Just my two cents 😉


        • If PNG was an expansion team then hopefully a huge new talent pool would be opened up. There is a population of 7 million mad about Rugby League just waiting for an opportunity. It would be difficult – but the potential benefits …I agree – cosmetic expansion to SA/WA would lead to a watered down comp


          • PNG is 15 years away at least…they would also have to be merged with Darwin to work (which would be win for the game) QLD Cup was a great step, but still a big work in progress


        • That comes into my other idea about a national under 20’s so expansion teams are more prepared ;)…Currently, probably not, but there is a lot of hidden talent in NSW Cup which clubs do ignore since under 20’s are the prize talents to sign first.


  2. A fair post, and although I don’t feel there are too many demonstrable successes from yer man as of yet, I do fully and heartily agree with your take on the whole #crisis bit. Bogans do love a #crisis.

    I like The Integrity Unit, Touch Footy mergers and NSW Cup pathways. I don’t like auto sin-binning for punch-ons, nor Todd “domestic violence cover-up” Greenberg (and yes, I am aware of the irony in that last bit – I’m a complicated Rooster).

    But I do like Smith the administrator *in principle* – hell, any move that takes League away from the SL era is a good one, and thinking of football as a business first (in a dispassionate way) is totally the way forward.

    As they say, history will be the judge. Actually – scrap that, I’ll be the judge.


      • You’re probably right, but to be fair blokes punching-on isn’t exactly a new thing. Two athletes going at it, toe-to-toe aint craven (imo) and this on-street violence that seems endemic in Sydney at the moment is not about fighting and punching per se, its about cowardly blind-siding and unwilling participants being assaulted. Historically it seems as though Rugby League fights cause less injury than any other footy-induced injuries.

        But the way it stands at the mo, there’s auto sin-binning regardless of the context, and if you come in to defend your team mate, you’re auto-sin-binned, too.

        I liked the ‘grey area’ better than the black or white one we now have.


        • Excellent point, but personally i don’t have a problem with the punch rule. I’d rather just watch the game than a fight, and while a lot of punching is in self defence and the sin bin immediately rule seems drastic, it does put a spot of doubt in the players’ minds about whether they should throw one or not — and IMO that’s a good thing.

          Under the old rule the two who fought in Origin and got binned (forgot who they are now) may or may not have gone to the bin, depending on the referee, and that smacked of inconsistency. At least with the new rule there’s a blanket rule for all, no matter the game or the situation.

          Having said ALL that…

          I didn’t necessarily have a problem with the old rule either — and i think the refs in Origin egregiously blundered in sinbinning Tate and Bird who clearly didn’t throw one. And the blanket rule, I agree, does not take into account context which can be a bad thing.

          How’s that for an “all over the shop response”?


    • And you SHOULD be the judge, we all should be. Players, coaches and administrators need a friendly reminder that without us the game has no revenue.


  3. You’re on the mark with this blog, in my humble opinion. Nice work.

    Coming from a banking background, Dave Smith is a results-oriented dude with a horse sense for money. This is a good thing for the NRL, and they posted a nice result last year, but it doesn’t want to too money-focused at the expense of the fans and other stakeholders. The GF is a case in point, where the NRL, understanding it’s monopoly power at the finals end of the year, clearly put a lot of people off side with pricing (guessing the refs missed it, lol). But that’s banking – charge the marginal cost, or alternatively, what people will pay. They can’t do this during the season, but the finals they can.

    Much of the vitriol saved for Smith has come from sections of the media who had become used to ‘inside access’, and who had to look elsewhere for their scoops. I like that he isn’t beholden to the association of knucklehead vested interests so common in the game, and which have stymied the game’s progress for many years.

    As a former banking CEO, Smith understands two things: results matter, and that delegation works, especially when the game is foreign to him – hence the silo approach to management.

    The game will still struggle against the headwinds of mediocrity that have become institutionalised in the game, and there are so many changes that need to be made – still – but the wind is a ‘changing.

    Looking forward to an awesome 2014.


  4. Pingback: Touch Footy players in the Nines? It just makes sense… by @ItsMitchell180 | 26 Rounds·

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