It has been impossible to confirm, though, just what will be proposed to the commission after V’landys read the riot act to the NRL executive and the rest of the staff about leaking to the media, citing their Code of Conduct.
“Otherwise we face summary execution,” one NRL staffer joked.
Any changes to the rules “will not change the fabric of the game”, according to another NRL insider, but it appears likely teams that lose in golden point will still receive one competition point for their troubles.
The 20-40 rule, which would enable the attacking team to win a scrum feed inside their opponents’ 40-metre zone by kicking the ball into touch from behind their own 20-metre line, is also set to be introduced.
The most intriguing discussion, however, will be around dividing the game into quarters, something that’s only usually seen in pre-season matches because of heat stress.
V’landys has made it clear his No.1 priority is to increase broadcast revenue beyond the $1.8 billion the NRL received from its last TV deal.
While the current contract with Channel Nine, which publishes the Herald, and Fox Sports doesn’t end until the end of 2022, the NRL wants to bring certainty to the player market by working out just how much revenue will be coming into the game.
Playing matches in quarters would be appealing to broadcasters because they could use the breaks in play to sell more advertising.
It could also lead to a reduction in the number of interchanges because players would receive more breaks in play, thereby reducing fatigue.
“There are a lot of decisions to be made in the next 12 months in relation to broadcast, but we will have it in a package that will maximise the return to the game,” V’landys said at his first media conference as chairman. “To me, that is the most important aspect, to ensure the game stays viable. If you’re not viable, you’re nowhere. It’s critical we continue to get the revenues we’re getting.”
How much information comes out of Thursday’s meeting remains to be seen. It ends on Thursday afternoon but the rule amendments won’t be announced until Friday morning. That will test V’landys’ “code of silence”.
Indeed, the NRL would not even confirm if the commission will discuss Souths’ application for salary cap relief after captain Sam Burgess was forced into retirement because of a shoulder injury.
Souths want all of Burgess’ $3.6 million contract over the next three seasons to be wiped from their cap because they claim the injury was suffered this year.
One NRL source said a decision was likely to be announced this week but V’landys wouldn’t say if the commission would be signing off on it.
“Sorry, I can’t answer that one as it breaches board policy,” he said. Then an NRL spokesperson confirmed the Burgess matter would not be on the agenda.
As the authoritarian chief executive of Racing NSW, V’landys has the reputation of being one of the toughest administrators in the country.
He proudly calls himself a “disrupter”, having introduced headline races like The Everest and The Golden Eagle in a bid to disrupt Victoria’s spring racing carnival. Now he is “disrupting” rugby league.
There were concerns when he was first mooted as Beattie’s successor that his relationship with News Corp was too cosy.
Racing NSW has a large commercial deal with Rupert Murdoch owned newspapers to publish its form guides and provide publicity around major carnivals. It has a smaller deal with the Herald.
That paranoia was only enhanced when the NRL hired two former News Corp staffers as media advisers earlier this season.
But, within days of becoming chairman, V’landys identified the angst and distrust that was being created about leaks to select members of the media.
Since coming onto the commission in February 2018, he became bemused when important matters were played out in the media before the board discussed them.
When the ARL Commission met in late February this year to vote on its controversial “no-fault stand-down policy”, Beattie had talked about the matter so openly to dozens of media outlets that the result was known days in advance.
The plumber has been sent into League Central to plug the leaks — although we’ve heard this promise before.
When the independent commission was formed in 2012, inaugural chairman John Grant vowed his board would be watertight.
It didn’t last long. In the end, Grant spoke to whoever would listen in a desperate bid to save his job.
He failed, being replaced by Beattie, who has now handed over the reins to V’landys.
“No leaks?” said another NRL staffer. “That’ll be different for rugby league.”
Andrew Webster is Chief Sports Writer of The Sydney Morning Herald.