The Australians are revolting, and that could have serious implications on this side of the sea.

For the moment it's the netballers throwing a wobbly but they are merely symptomatic of a wider trend: Australian athletes are fast losing confidence in those who run their sport.

We had a small taste of this in New Zealand last year, when frustrated athletes spoke out about their second-class status, but in Australia the antipathy between athletes and administrators is set on a high simmer.

The long-running pay dispute between the AFL players and their bosses remains unresolved. The players are reportedly set to receive a pay boost of up to 25 per cent, but the deal has been stalled by the AFL Players' Association, which wants an improved share of revenue from both head office and clubs.


While revenue sharing is a common flashpoint for the various player unions across Australian sport, it is not the only deal-breaker. RUPA, the union that negotiates on behalf of Australia's rugby players has recently queried the competence of the Australian Rugby Union (though they are far from alone on that front).

With rugby's popularity on the wane in a highly competitive market and one Australian Super Rugby franchise to be culled, meaning about 30 less jobs for rugby players, RUPA's energies are focused on fighting that battle.

The netball situation is complicated by the fact Australia wasn't as ready to cut the financial apron strings the now-defunct ANZ Championship provided them as they first thought. Netball Australia's new competition had some serious shortcomings (turns out that buddying up with AFL clubs wasn't a panacea), which its member states were furious about.

They reacted by overthrowing the board chair last month and last week independent director Kath Harby-Williams was voted out, both replaced by candidates acceptable to the states.

The Players' Association, whipped into a frenzy, were led to believe that if that states got their way, then their new pay provisions were under threat. So they threatened to strike and even to form a rebel league unless Harby-Williams was re-elected to the board. This was their non-negotiable position... until it wasn't.

Harby-Williams wasn't re-elected. The players didn't strike, but they did protest at the weekend's games. You suspect there is a lot more to come in this space.

Most intriguing is the cricket scrap.

Cricket Australia and the players are working on a new five-year collective but to say it's not going well would be to say North Korea is suspicious of Donald Trump.

The stoush is centred on CA's bid to drop the revenue-sharing model. This is tantamount to treason in the players' minds who know the national body are rolling in cash.

Paul Marsh, the former Australian Cricketers' Association chief who now heads the AFL Players' Association, described CA's move to scrap the 20-year-old pay structure as "pure greed".

Tim May, the former Australian offspinner, explains the brouhaha much better than I can here.

Again, there is talk of industrial action, and even if few think the players will actually strike, even loose talk of it tends to put the frighteners up sponsors and broadcasters.

Even as late as last month, a release from ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson, indicated that the two warring sides were some way apart.

"With a lack of detail in the terms and conditions that underpin this proposal, the ACA will continue to seek clarification from CA and advise the players on this accordingly."

While all the table-thumping across the ditch is intriguing, it's their problem, right?

Not quite.

While rugby's bosses are breathing a little easier after negotiating their way to a new collective with the Players' Association, New Zealand Cricket are set to sit down with the NZCPA and revenue-sharing will be front and centre of discussions.

It shapes as a genuine deal breaker.

The current agreement ends in July 2018 and typically these negotiations take a year of toing and froing.

It's unlikely New Zealand's cricketers would vote to strike again. They might have won the war but they got soundly beaten in the PR battle when they went down this route in 2002.

They probably won't need that nuclear option either. Thanks to the proliferation of T20 competitions and the fact they are contractors to NZ Cricket, not employees, the players have a far greater bargaining chip than they possessed 15 years ago - premature international retirement.

This is, of course, putting a negative projection on to what may in fact turn out to be a simple, amicable negotiation.

Or it might not.

In a professional environment things tend to work in cycles and if our friends across the Tasman are sending us a message, it is that those who administer the entertainment are increasingly out of step with those who provide it.


Had some great responses to the subject of sporting bucket lists. It was an open floor, the only rule being you couldn't nominate an event you've already attended. As a quick refresher, these were mine.

Wrote Mark Ammundsen:

"1. I would pick the Masters over St Andrews. 2. Indy 500, like you said with the "rednecks", the noise and the fact you can see the whole track. 3. World title heavyweight boxing in Vegas, the hype the Americans create, and the atmosphere would be amazing. 4. Olympic Games swimming finals, the support the swimmers get is amazing."

This from Richard Swan:

"For me watching University of Miami at Notre Dame. College football would be better than NFL, bigger stadiums and more passionate supporters. Plus I love the U [Miami]."

Andy Cummings picked three high-powered match-ups at iconic venues: All Blacks v Springboks at Ellis Park; India v Pakistan at Eden Gardens; Celtic v Rangers at Ibrox.

After beating the Boks at iconic Ellis Park, Ben Smith and Israel Dagg discuss their sporting bucket lists. Photo / Getty Images
After beating the Boks at iconic Ellis Park, Ben Smith and Israel Dagg discuss their sporting bucket lists. Photo / Getty Images

Brenden Winder also picked Celtic v Rangers and India v Pakistan, as well as highlighting a number of other notable events, including: Game seven in any of the US' big four sports, a world heavyweight unifying fight, a State of Origin decider, a March Madness college basketball clash between Duke and North Carolina and the Iditarod Race.

Thanks to all the others who wrote in. I might be able to squeeze in a couple more next week.


You don't need to go far to find a cracking good longform yarn this week, courtesy of Dana Johannsen.

Here's a nice little New Yorker piece about the difficulty trying to describe the Milwaukee Bucks' mould-breaking dynamo Giannis Antetokounmpo.