Posted 01 January 2013 - 06:56 PM
Soon, the RFL will have a new Executive Chairman (Richard Lewis' old position) - albeit on a part time basis. This is a crucial appointment with regards to the immediate future of the sport. Someone coming in from outside the game with no baggage, fresh ideas and a great deal of impetus would really help right now. I have to admit I've not been impressed with some of the ways the RFL has been governing the sport in recent years, but they're not all bad. Some departments are actually quite good; others are hopeless (see the performance department who put so many obstacles in the way of Fev and Sheffield running Academy sides).
Still, I find the attitude of certain Championship fans towards the World Cup incredibly worrying. Not supporting Super League because you hate the current have/have nots divide and lack of automatic P&R is understandable in some ways (even though I don't agree with this attitude myself), but not supporting the World Cup because you don't like the RFL, Nigel Wood and co is both hugely depressing and utterly bizarre. International competition is the pinnacle of any sport, and ours should be no different. What's not to like about seeing the best players in the World, from many different competing nations, going head to head on our shores? This World Cup is a rare opportunity to sell the sport to a new audience - as followers of Rugby League, surely we want to see the game expand its fanbase and win new "customers" (as the clubs and RFL call them)?
Back in 2008, I went down to Australia to take in the World Cup, not for work but as a fan. It was great fun. That World Cup also had its problems, and England were dreadful, but that didn't stop me enjoying it for what it was - a celebration of The Greatest Game of all.
The 2013 World Cup should be similarly celebratory, but it only will be if people support it. If Rugby League fans don't support it, how can we expect newcomers and casual sports fans to support it? At least the RLWC marketing team have the right idea in trying to target casual sports fans, families and those who go to watch sporting "occasions" - that way they might attract some people to the tournament and sport that enjoy it for what it is, rather than finding excuses not to turn up or doing it down before the first match has even kicked off.
Rugby League as a sport in the UK has problems, but they're not terminal. There are things I worry about and things the RFL have seriously got wrong. The biggest worry, though, is the negative attitude of so many fans. Others on this thread have mentioned this and been told "well, you don't count because you're a Super League fan". I support a club in the Championship, and one that may be destined to be a lower league club forever (who knows!). If they never get back into Super League, so what? It's not the be all and end all. As long as they exist, continue to work hard getting kids into League and do things the right way, I'll be happy. I guess that makes me a bit odd. Then again, my club briefly ceased to exist in 1999. When that happens - when your club is taken away from you by, yes, SLE, the RFL and the directors of two different clubs - you get a different perspective on things.
Oh, and living outside of the "heartlands" makes you appreciate the game even more. Those of you who live in the "heartlands", with access to pro and amateur RL on your doorstep, don't know how lucky you are. Please, let's have a little positivity occasionally!
Bristol Sonics Rugby League2007 & 2008 West Midlands RLC Champions
2008 RLC Regional Grand Finalists
2008 RLC Team Of The Year
2011 RLC Midlands Premier Champions
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