Rugby league is back! I don’t know about you, but I quite enjoyed casting aside the negativity and noise about the Perth nines tournament and taking in two days of good clean rugby league fun.
For all the huffing and puffing of those who thought the weekend was a waste of time, there were great skills on show from the men and women, a good vibe from the crowd and, in true rugby league fashion, there was even room for a high-quality #refsfault after the Dragons scored a hilariously dodgy try to win their quarter-final.
Some folks took it pretty seriously (looking at you, NRL Twitter), some took it for what it was – an exhibition (looking at you, Canberra) – and others left it alone, which is fine too. It’s mid-February, way too early to be 100 per cent fired up about the NRL.
So we should absorb the nines and move on to the coming All Star game, world club challenge and trial matches, but to be honest I can’t do that until I get one little thing off my chest.
What was with all the Perth hate?
The host city of the NRL nines was copping it for the heat because on Day 1 temperatures were in the mid to high 30s, then for team selections because most clubs took their kids along, then for supposedly low crowds, you name it.
It was a free-for-all on the western capital that gave a big impression of being a preordained hit job by certain people.
Indeed, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph felt fit to include this definite statement in a wrap of the tournament:
“Poor attendances at the Nines over the weekend should end any debate about having a team from Western Australia in any expanded NRL competition.”
Let’s tee up how completely vacuous that claim is.
The international nines held last October – in much, much friendlier weather – at the shiny new Bankwest Stadium drew 12,528 on Friday night and 15,684 on Saturday. That’s 28,212 all up.
Friday’s Day 1…