People who say things like 'just stick with it' are looking at things far too simplistically. Rugby League does not have an abundance of money that they can invest in things that are costing a fortune.
Exactly. There needs to be a sensible strategy to growth, and if it is going to be expensive then we need to be honest and open about it. Recognise this so people don't think the powers that be are just chucking money in a pit hopelessly, and then highlight where the money is coming from to fund it.
I think Union does some things well, I like the Autumn International series, and I think this is one area that we could replicate. We sort of do it with the 4Nations, but even this can be a little random without a mass amount of strategic thinking and planning.
There's variety in the union international game which is again something that people like. Will they get to see the islanders every year? On top of that, they will ALWAYS have some big games every year at home. We don't in RL. Sometimes we get one friendly mid season and that's it. Where's the consistency? Where's the momentum? We see these poor and predictable friendlies thrown in with little notice and are expected to support it in big numbers. It just doesn't tick many people's boxes.
I'd look to get touring teams over here every year. A New Zealand touring team should be a massive draw, they aren't yet, but we should be looking to play them in a 2/3 Test Series with some exciting venues selected.
We should be looking at playing at least one big player (NZ/Aus) every year at home. We should also be playing our locals as well. We need to be building events with regularity. This isn't happening. People aren't going to fall in love with international RL if they don't get the chance to see it at it's best regularly, and at the moment they don't.
Would people come in big numbers to Headingley to watch Leeds play Leigh, Halifax, Sheffield, etc. with no home game against the big guns that year? I doubt it.
We need to move away from this mentality that the Aussies are the most important thing. Due to us being closer to the Kiwis (the current World Champions) the matches are usually great encounters and staged in the right manner they could do very well. I'd avoid Hudds, Wigan and Hull maybe and look to the likes of Eastlands and a London venue.
That's something again which I've mentioned in the past. The likes of Wigan, Hudds and Hull are hardly places that scream "special event". There's nothing special about going to a northern town in a stadium that you regularly see RL played in. The game at Wembley the other year was the best event feeling I've had at an international. The others that compare are COMS and Elland Road (as much of a dump as it is, it's a big ground in an unusual stadium).
I'd also look to get Samoa/PNG/Tonga/Fiji or similar over each Autumn to challenge the other Home Nations, with the odd game against England possibly. I know these things cost, but development of the International game needs to be tried properly or not at all.
Again, variety. I agree. Whilst they might not be much of a challenge to England, if love to watch Wales/France/etc have a stab at them on Sky.
Regular and varied events.
other thing I'd look to do is make sure there are regular games against France - I know we play them regularly now, but nobody ever has any idea when the game will be played, or where. We should have England supporters clubs heading to Paris every Autumn (or in-season) for a Test match.
I can't believe I keep repeating myself and yet it's not obvious to those that matter. It's regular. It's in an unusual place. It's scheduled EARLY and KNOWN ABOUT. Something people can look forward to every year.
England vs France at LSV in a mid season friendly announced last minute whilst there's a round of SL being played is hardly going to excite the public!
Union plays on the 'event' feel and social element, we need to stop sneering at that (plenty of comments about the car parks) and embrace it ourselves, as ultimately, people need to enjoy themselves otherwise they won't bother.
With all due respect, is heading over to Hull KR in November for a low-key game really getting the general public excited?
It's like instead of an event, they're trying to test fans loyalty. It's a lose-lose. Only the most loyal fans are going to travel to the other side of the country to go see a team play in a hastily arranged games against low-key unestablished opposition in a poor stadium in a fairly dull area (and I'll be the first to admit that it's not exactly exciting in sunny Hull!). At least give the fans a chance to want to come!
I can see a very similar situation happening for the Exiles game this year but at least they're getting a bit closer. Not clashing with SL weekend, and a better quality stadium.