An Australian Storm and Another Word You Haven’t Got.
The dictionary says – noun Australian: a rowdy, usually drunken party.
But it’s much, much more than that.
Wikipedia says – Rort is a term used in Australia and New Zealand. It is commonly related to politics, or, more generally, a financial impropriety, particularly relating to a government programme. The term was first recorded in 1919 and is a derivative of the older “rorty” a 19th century London slang word—meaning “fine; splendid; jolly; or boisterous”. The term is also used as a verb to mean the action of defrauding, (e.g.: he rorted the system.)
How did I hear about this word? Surely I haven’t got myself involved in some kind of financial impropriety have I? No, but this lot have.
Melbourne Storm, (former) Kings of NRL
And what a storm! This was a major news story that hit Australia last Thursday and has covered reams of pages in the national press ever since. Melbourne Storm are a rugby league team that play in the National Rugby League. This is an Australasian league with 15 Australian teams and one team from New Zealand.
It seems that Melbourne Storm were pretty good in this league over the last five years, they won the title last year and in 2007. This isn’t surprising, because the Storm have some of the countries top players. This is quite an achievement because the NRL level the playing field for everyone by applying a “salary cap” to all teams.
This is a sure-fire way to prevent all the richest teams getting the best players as they do in other competitions, like the English Premier League. Except…….
Rort: a financial impropriety.
It turns out that Melbourne storm had two sets of books. One for the official salaries it paid to its players and another for those little extra payments. Those little extra payments to players added up to over $1.7 million over the last five years.
And they got caught. Allegedly an ex-employee blew the whistle. Now Melbourne Storm have been punished, and how!
- Stripped of both titles won in 2007 and 2009.
- Stripped of 3 minor titles.
- Ordered to pay back $1.1 million in prize money.
- Fined $500,000.
- Deducted all points won so far in this year’s league.
- Ordered to play the rest of the season for pride, because whatever the result, they won’t be getting any points for the rest of the year.
They played on Sunday: Storm 40 – Warriors 6, so that’s another zero points to add to their total for 2010. It’s going to be a long season for Storm, the season is only 7 games old.
This scandal has been billed as Melbourne’s ‘Salary Cap Rort’ – which kind of meant nothing to me being a Pom, but needed no more explanation for Australians. But I’m up to speed now.
Australians do not like cheats!
That’s why they have the term ‘fair dinkum’, which means true, genuine. And another uniquely Australian saying is ‘a fair go’ as in ‘give a bloke a fair go’. Melbourne Storm did not give the other blokes a fair go and Aussies aren’t happy about that.
To us English, these overpayments may seem a petty flouting of the rules. After all, $1.7 million would just about cover English Premier League footballer Frank Lampard’s wages for around eight weeks. But here it is a crime against fairness that has to be sorted out “by exorcising it with a molten iron. Burn it out – leave indelible scarring. Cheats are NOT tolerated” as Michael of Toowong commented on the Courier Mail article.
Yup, Aussie like everyone to have ‘a fair go’. If any of the other NRL teams have been rorting the salary cap (is that a proper sentence?), then they’d best fire up the paper shredder.