Uncle Rupert, #CodeWars and double agents: The revolution and why rugby league is fighting back

BY CURTIS WOODWARD

@woodward_curtis

“What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

Yes, he did open an article with a quote from Billy Madison. But the only way to deal with fools is to laugh them off.

Please enter the room, Malcolm Knox and Ben Fordham. Take a seat. You will now be tried for crimes against rugby league and common sense.

Friends, it would be easy to ignore the rugby league bashing of a minority. We know how we feel. We know the shape our game is in. All sports have detractors and haters – it comes from a dark place and usually darker places of social media. But that’s life. Shit happens. The sun will come up again tomorrow.

This however is different. A revolution is happening and you’re all part of it.

It didn’t specifically start in one place. Instead it bubbled and festered. For years, Uncle Rupert and his merry men took great pride in digging up as much dirt as possible on rugby league. It sold newspapers. You can’t blame the writers. If the story is true, people should know about it. Then something changed. A switch was flicked. The story became less important but the barrage continued.

Then came NRL CEO Todd Greenberg’s #TalkTheGameUp tweet.

News cracked it and dug their hole deeper by increasing the negativity. Get back in your corner, rugby league! How dare you?

They say rugby league has thrived on controversy since 1908. No doubt. Rugby league is a tough old bitch sitting back playing rope-a-dope. Rupert’s army is only punching themselves out of the fight.

And the winners? Finally? The fans.

Greenberg’s tweet sparked a new battle with News but it has also tightened the rugby league community.

A revolution has begun.

With their senses heightened, social media is calling out the cross-code double agents. Weeding them out. Rugby league is under attack from News and their new best buddies – the AFL.

Last week, Knox sprayed word vomit directly into our eyeballs.

He said Sydney was now an AFL town because more people went to a Sydney Swans game than a Waratahs Super Rugby clash.

No really, he did.

Knox also pointed out AFL’s super amazing television ratings.

“And then the roar of the AFL crowd brought me back to the invigorating present,” Knox wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Unpacking the figures, the picture for Super Rugby is even bleaker. The national Foxtel ratings on the night had 300,000 viewers for Swans-Adelaide against 57,000 for the Waratahs-Lions. Add another 584,000 nationally watching the AFL game on Channel Seven.

“So, whereas the live AFL audience outnumbered Super Rugby by four or five to one, the TV audience ratio was more than 15 to one. AFL is not just winning in the grandstands, it’s winning on the couch.”

Have another wine, Mal.

Throughout the entire story he never once mentioned the NRL who consistently beat the AFL on TV. He also proudly boasted about the Swans-Adelaide audience but failed to include the (consistently) embarrassingly low ratings in Sydney. Rugby league monsters aussie rules in the Harbour City. Hearts and minds.

Then there’s Mr. Fordham who used his show on 2GB to spruik membership numbers for the Swans and GWS Giants (they play AFL too) and posted a link on Twitter to highlights of the show.

The tweet led with: “AFL is overtaking NRL in Sydney when it comes to club membership. There’s now 80,000 members between the Swans + GWS and Sydney can no longer call itself a rugby league town.”

Fordham is already dead in the water because NRL memberships double that number.

Fans rightfully retorted and put Ben in his place.

The Swans might have 60,000 members but they have rarely cracked that number of viewers in Sydney on television. Apparently GWS has 20,000 members. Sure they do. If you include freebies, infants, pets, Victorians and Canberrans. Not even a blind man would watch them on TV and you couldn’t give match tickets away even if they were made of gold.

Sure #CodeWars suck. It’s social media’s version of a mass pissing contest. But this has been instigated by the other side and more alarmingly – from double agent #CrisisMerchants on the inside.

Rugby league is simply defending itself.

You can only be pushed so many times before you push back.

The revolution has begun.

@woodward_curtis

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