New threat forces changes to NRL Dally M awards.

A looming threat forced the NRL to make unpopular changes to the Dally M awards night in 2021 – and it wasn’t the AFL. The NRL altered the traditional format of its awards presentation in response to the growing popularity of The Frownlow Medal celebration.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

Rugby League fans slammed the new format which saw the awards stretched over two separate nights a week apart. The first instalment returned poor television ratings and attracted widespread criticism across social media. Experts suspected the downfall could be blamed on the timing of the AFL Brownlow Medal ceremony, but realised that it was the Frownlow award which was stealing the thunder.

“Every player wants to go to the awards night for The Frownlow Medal,” revealed NRL boss Andrew Abdo.

“It is a huge night of massive partying with no rules or restrictions with players from across NRL, AFL, Super Rugby and the A-League. Players get unlimited drugs, booze, women, music, sports gambling and no pesky journalists. No player can resist this, and it’s no wonder that party is more popular than the Dally Ms.”

Players have been displaying less interest in the Dally M night since the Frownlow Medal was introduced in 2015. In response, the NRL decided to experiment with a new format in order to win back players and fans.

“The Dally M used to be the most prestigious award in the NRL, but now it’s the Frownlow,” conceded Abdo.

“Just look at the number of NRL players who get nominated every year, and the fact that every medallist, except for 2020, has been an NRL player.”

The awards night for The Fronwlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame will be held later this year. The potential venues include Northies, Jarryd Hayne’s Hillsong Church, Paul Vaughan’s house or the restaurant in which Adam Elliott and Millie Boyle enjoyed their toilet tryst.

Image: NuNa