Recently we were discussing in another thread about the possibility of expansion and a Steve Macord article was brought up. I mentioned that the Wellington RL CEO had been working behind the scenes for a number of years but nothing had been heard from him in ages (at least i think i said that?). Heres an article from Hempson from last november, 2 months ago.
Continued next post
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Interview with Wellington RL CEO Jason Hemson on NRL expansion
It has been a big few weeks for Kiwi rugby league. Two home Tests played in front of big crowds in Wellington and Auckland, with mixed performances from the home team (and the home crowds). Over in London, former Kiwi prodigy Sonny Bill Williams made his debut in for All Blacks, while down under the Melbourne Storm were busy signing up the schoolboy son of former New Zealand rugby union skipper Tana Umaga and Hugh McGahan.
During the NRL finals series, footy footy footy’s Nick F talked to Wellington RL CEO Jason Hemson about recent developments in New Zealand rugby league, the importance of another rugby league pathway for talented New Zealand juniors, and the longer-term plan for an expanded NRL presence across the Tasman. Here’s the transcript of their chat.
Footy footy footy: How much progress do you feel the NZRL has made through the SPARC process ? Has it worked?
Jason Hemson: Absolutely. I’ve been involved in the game for 30-odd years, I’ve lived over here for 20 years now and continually the game over here has managed to shoot itself in the foot. The big shake-up came two and a half years ago when SPARC told us we needed to go through the review or we would get no assistance from them.
About 14 months ago we had Jim Doyle come on as CEO who is a businessman with no background in RL and he gave us some fresh ideas and a fresh focus to provide some leadership that’s been badly lacking in this sport over here for a long time. Already there have been some significant things happen in terms of sponsorship and business activities and overall the structure and pathways that have been created within the rugby league environment, so it’s a pretty exciting time for rugby league in New Zealand.
FFF: How important is it to have a second pathway for New Zealand rugby league juniors? In the last generation of All Blacks there are a number including Tana Umaga, Piri Weepu and Ma’a Nonu who are from the Wellington area and have strong rugby league backgrounds. Would a second team help stop the flow of talented youngsters away from the game?
JH: It would be huge. I believe that long term New Zealand could have three teams, I’m talking in 15 years time. Obviously getting a second team in is pretty important in the short to medium term to but long term there’s no doubt that there’s the football talent here to have three teams, especially when you have a look at the number of Maori and Polynesian kids that are coming through the Toyota Cup and are establishing themselves in the NRL.
Apart from the players you mentioned, Tana, Piri, what’s happening now, all those kids that are coming through that are going to play Super 15’s and All Blacks rugby will have had a taste of rugby league as well. We have a Colleges competition here that runs post rugby season to get all of the kids involved. We have 17 colleges involved, so the likelihood is that if a kid plays for his school in the 1st XV he’s probably also had experience playing RL as well.
Continued next post