The news that Parramatta Eels want to see the Telstra Premierships that the Melbourne Storm won given to the teams that lost the Grand Finals to them is understandable but also sad.
Sport has always been about challenging yourself and your team to be the best that you can be, and to do that you have to beat others who may be better than you. It is a survival of the fittest, strongest, most tactically savvy, and talented. Sometimes luck plays a part too as Steven Bradbury will attest, but you have to be there in the first place to claim the title of Champion or Premier.
It has become abundantly clear that Melbourne Storm used tactics outside of the competition rules to entice players to the club.
But salary issues aside for a moment have they not set the standard for excellence in rugby league in Australia and New Zealand in the last five years?
Forget salaries and inducements for a moment, as an athlete would you really want to call yourself a premier, or the club for that matter knowing that you in fact lost on the day that mattered to a better team? Would you be able to call yourself a premiership player with pride knowing that you lost in the final? If the answer is yes then you are probably not a player who strives to be the best you can possibly be.
This writer many years ago won a cup competition, in which his team lost in the opening round with two balls to go in the last over. A brilliant game of cricket played by both teams. A week or so later our club was advised that our opponents had, unbeknown to anyone at our club, played an ineligible player. They were disqualified and we replaced them. We went all the way to the final and won. But does that medal and trophy mean as much? Categorically not, is the answer, it has very little meaning, as in truth we were not the best team in the competition.
That is a slightly different story as a player who was ineligible was on the park, but the sentiment is the same. Would the Eels players, administrators and their fans be able to call themselves Premiers with pride?
Structurally the Storm is a good club and as others far more qualified than this writer say, the league could do with more clubs like them. Punish the administrators and player agents and players if they knew they were in breach of the rules, but do not punish the fans or the history of the game. Like it or not Melbourne Storm were the Champions.