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What is the World Cup telling us about UK Rugby League?

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#1 Wireagle

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:08 AM

As a Londoner who has been watching Rugby League for many years, I've been asking throughout why does it ignore its heartlands in pursuing expansion. I have only though been watching the game since I moved into a League town. For the first 24 years of my life, it didn't register. London has no interest in it. Nor, looking at the attendance in Neath for Wales v Cook Islands, does South Wales. I was at the half full Millennium for the opening games. It wasn't exactly busting with Welsh folk either.

 

The crowds at Halifax, Leigh, Workington, Avignon have all shown that there is still an appetite for the game in its traditional yet unsupported homes that does not exist today in London and South Wales. Last season only five SL clubs had average gates that exceeded those in Halifax and Leigh this week. Yet today the focus remains on the need to continue to have development that rapes our game of money it cannot afford, whilst not defending in its core business. 

 

Other examples are cited in support: The NFL is interested in investing in London. Yes it is, but not at the expense of say Cincinnati. Aussie Rules has clubs outside Melbourne. Yes it does, but in addition to, not in place of its home market. It is a myth is that our game is played in small regional towns that cannot sustain the game. Whilst not forgetting West Cumbria, collectively the M62 corridor is the second largest urbanisation in the whole UK, much like Melbourne is in Australia. It's true that the AFL has a Sydney club, but it wouldn't die without it. 

 

The model is clear. Add to what you have. If it works great, incorporate it. If it doesn't, shelve it.

 

Let's have a bigger top division rewarding local interest. If in time a London club like Skolars evolves and is worthy of a place, that's wonderful. But let's not kill the goose in trying to artificially make it happen. As for the excuse that there isn't enough quality to sustain more SL clubs, well, look at this World Cup. There's quality everywhere. It just hasn't been invested in!


Edited by Wireagle, 11 November 2013 - 09:10 AM.


#2 The Parksider

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:19 AM

The crowds at Halifax, Leigh, Workington, Avignon have all shown that there is still an appetite for the game in its traditional yet unsupported homes that does not exist today in London and South Wales. Last season only five SL clubs had average gates that exceeded those in Halifax and Leigh this week. Yet today the focus remains on the need to continue to have development that rapes our game of money it cannot afford, whilst not defending in its core business.


Mr. Hughes supports London who are the only club in non-traditional area in SL with Sheffield being the only non trad club in the Championship. Any money/time the RFL have spend supporting development is apparently the London Academy which has fed players on to northern clubs.

If you look at the gates for halifax and leigh when they were in Superleague Halifax's was 3,000 before they were relgated and leigh 4,500 before they were relegated. Halifax and leigh would struggle for money to compete as do several SL clubs.

I think with respect you confuse the public's appetite for top of the range international World Cup RL with a much lesser appetite for bottom of the Superleague failure to compete - two different things.That London have had a 5,000 average in SL, that Paris and Crusdaers got five figure crowds for opening games and that tens of thousands of people outside the north have attended world cup games means the sporting public are interested, but the game doesn't have the resources to provide them with the product.

#3 Johnoco

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:23 AM

Different markets.

 

Many of the people who went to the games in Halifax or Rochdale or wherever were not regular RL fans. They attended because it was (or felt like) a big event that was well promoted, in advance. Hopefully it will result in a few more people attending regular league games.

 

 

And anyway, doesn't big crowds for the WC indicate we should be moving away from the small town mentality and embracing all who want to get involved?


Edited by Johnoco, 11 November 2013 - 09:26 AM.

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#4 Trojan

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:37 AM

Bottom of the Superleague, failure to compete could apply to Salford, and their fixture was not a sellout like many of the others. I've always been in favour of organic expansion. But expansion is a big problem. There is a phenomenon in RL that's always puzzled me almost from the time I started to follow the game. The game is strong along the M62 corridor, there's been a team in York since 1895, Wigan are 10/15 miles north of the M62, but the interest in the game abruptly stops at Widnes, and there are no teams in Lancashire north of Wigan - East Lancs is a pro RL desert. I remember Liverpool City and was puzzled as a kid why a big city like Liverpool couldn't fund a top club - it never occurred to me that there was no interest. Same to a lesser extent goes for Donny. Why isn't there a club in Barnsley? Wakefield is only 12 miles up the road, but there isn't. I recall when Trinity were in their pomp in the sixties seeing buses at Belle Vue with "Brierley Supporters" and "Cudworth Supporters" - you can't get more Barnsley than Cudworth - it's where Michael Parkinson is from. But the game never took root there. It's a puzzle. Sheffield have made brave attempts and on the field they are the best, but not off it - and it's not through lack of effort. You'd think fans would come to support a successful side like the Eagles, but they don't - at least not in the numbers you'd think they would. The game is strong in Hull, but just across the river are two large towns where the game is virtually unknown. It's as though we're in ghetto with invisible walls.

Edited by Trojan, 11 November 2013 - 09:38 AM.

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#5 paulalmanack

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:47 AM

The facts are and always will be that Leauge is a Northern based game and whatever Union thinks there Southern based with at least over half of there top teams based in London and surrounds and west country. Develop where your most strongest where the fan base is.

#6 Johnoco

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:47 AM

Bottom of the Superleague, failure to compete could apply to Salford, and their fixture was not a sellout like many of the others. I've always been in favour of organic expansion. But expansion is a big problem. There is a phenomenon in RL that's always puzzled me almost from the time I started to follow the game. The game is strong along the M62 corridor, there's been a team in York since 1895, Wigan are 10/15 miles north of the M62, but the interest in the game abruptly stops at Widnes, and there are no teams in Lancashire north of Wigan - East Lancs is a pro RL desert. I remember Liverpool City and was puzzled as a kid why a big city like Liverpool couldn't fund a top club - it never occurred to me that there was no interest. Same to a lesser extent goes for Donny. Why isn't there a club in Barnsley? Wakefield is only 12 miles up the road, but there isn't. I recall when Trinity were in their pomp in the sixties seeing buses at Belle Vue with "Brierley Supporters" and "Cudworth Supporters" - you can't get more Barnsley than Cudworth - it's where Michael Parkinson is from. But the game never took root there. It's a puzzle. Sheffield have made brave attempts and on the field they are the best, but not off it - and it's not through lack of effort. You'd think fans would come to support a successful side like the Eagles, but they don't - at least not in the numbers you'd think they would. The game is strong in Hull, but just across the river are two large towns where the game is virtually unknown. It's as though we're in ghetto with invisible walls.

The answer to that is mainly football.

 

That and short sightedness.


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#7 South Wakefield Sharks

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:48 AM

Club game is very parochial in UK. International game is how we attract more money, more interest and more people to the game. That will gradually filter down to the club game.

#8 foozler

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 10:13 AM

Bottom of the Superleague, failure to compete could apply to Salford, and their fixture was not a sellout like many of the others. I've always been in favour of organic expansion. But expansion is a big problem. There is a phenomenon in RL that's always puzzled me almost from the time I started to follow the game. The game is strong along the M62 corridor, there's been a team in York since 1895, Wigan are 10/15 miles north of the M62, but the interest in the game abruptly stops at Widnes, and there are no teams in Lancashire north of Wigan - East Lancs is a pro RL desert. I remember Liverpool City and was puzzled as a kid why a big city like Liverpool couldn't fund a top club - it never occurred to me that there was no interest. Same to a lesser extent goes for Donny. Why isn't there a club in Barnsley? Wakefield is only 12 miles up the road, but there isn't. I recall when Trinity were in their pomp in the sixties seeing buses at Belle Vue with "Brierley Supporters" and "Cudworth Supporters" - you can't get more Barnsley than Cudworth - it's where Michael Parkinson is from. But the game never took root there. It's a puzzle. Sheffield have made brave attempts and on the field they are the best, but not off it - and it's not through lack of effort. You'd think fans would come to support a successful side like the Eagles, but they don't - at least not in the numbers you'd think they would. The game is strong in Hull, but just across the river are two large towns where the game is virtually unknown. It's as though we're in ghetto with invisible walls.

 

You touch on a lot of interesting points and it is interesting to read about the development of the rival football codes in the north of England in the late 1800s. And why you have the divides/ ghettos between Association Football (AF) and Rugby Football (RF) in Lancs and Yorks.

 

I've no clear idea why it was the mill towns of East Lancs preferred the round ball, maybe working in mills led to different physical attributes to working in the mines, and the mill worker was better suited in this regard for a less physical sport? It is really interesting to look up the original members of the FA and see how many were from the Lancashire mill towns. Maybe Barnsley went for soccer as it had a closer relationship with Sheffield which obviously was at the heart of roundball?

 

I do recall reading somewhere that one of the reasons given for the popularity of AF in the north was that in the 1880's/ early 1890's AF was much more proactive in organising competitive fixtures, especially the FA cup knock outs. You also have to remember that the FA were much more pragmatic about payments to players which I guess boosted participation and competition, at a time when Twickenham was insisting on the amateur purity of RF participants. I think some of the northern RF clubs told the RFU they needed a knock out comp to help compete with AF, but the RFU weren't interested.

 

Basically it seems that the reason for football's popularity, certainly in the north of England, is due to the RFU's backward and hypocritical stance at the time on the development of the code which allowed soccer to get momentum which it never surrendered.


Edited by foozler, 11 November 2013 - 10:14 AM.


#9 Exiled Wiganer

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 10:13 AM

Another way of looking at this is simply in international terms. For the first time, we could really grasp the nettle and have the resources to follow the path trodden by other sports. Let the international game drive everything. Let's come back in 2021 and see where we are. My bet is that if we back the international game to the hilt our prospects of expansion will increase massively.

#10 RSN

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 10:27 AM

Rugby league is dieing in the UK, Canetman and DSK have informed me so.

#11 tuutaisrambo

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 10:42 AM

This world cup has clearly shown that the only effective way to expand the game and generate a wider interest is through international games.

 

If rugby league want to grow it need to expand it's international calendar.....easier said than done but that's what we need.

 

Looking at Union i know loads of people who claim they love the game who solely follow England and have no real interest in any union clubs.


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#12 sweaty craiq

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 10:55 AM

Mr. Hughes supports London who are the only club in non-traditional area in SL with Sheffield being the only non trad club in the Championship. Any money/time the RFL have spend supporting development is apparently the London Academy which has fed players on to northern clubs.

If you look at the gates for halifax and leigh when they were in Superleague Halifax's was 3,000 before they were relgated and leigh 4,500 before they were relegated. Halifax and leigh would struggle for money to compete as do several SL clubs.

I think with respect you confuse the public's appetite for top of the range international World Cup RL with a much lesser appetite for bottom of the Superleague failure to compete - two different things.That London have had a 5,000 average in SL, that Paris and Crusdaers got five figure crowds for opening games and that tens of thousands of people outside the north have attended world cup games means the sporting public are interested, but the game doesn't have the resources to provide them with the product.

 

Hi Parky, I realise you keep quoting this figure but it was 4700 and didn't include corporate (I was involved at the time btw) with a true figure at 5k. We didn't give 1 ticket away all year and were torn before a ball was passed, due to lack of players available and two down - one thought at the time was to save the money and  recruit a team for the following year to go straight back up stronger. Oh and we also returned a profit despite everything else I wont go into  - what a business eh!!!!

Don't you think a Leigh team in SL based at the LSV would have much more potential? 7k average imo at full prices



#13 foozler

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 12:35 PM

 

 

If rugby league want to grow it need to expand it's international calendar.....easier said than done but that's what we need.

 

 

RU has all kinds of issues with the international schedule and the competition for players between club and country. What they do show is that for the most part the international game bankrolls the club/ provincial game and weaker RU nations (and I include Australia in that).

 

Given that the two principal RL comps are played at the same time and finish pretty much at the same time, I think RL is actually in a perfect position for expansion of the international calendar. The window is there, it is just a case of how to fill it in a meaningful and coherent way. Thankfully it seems the new ARL commission understands the need to sort it out and I think we should start to see a proper international calendar being put forward sooner rather than later. I hope!



#14 RugbyLeagueGeek

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 05:10 PM

Oh and we also returned a profit despite everything else I wont go into  - what a business eh!!!!

 

I'm no financial expert but is profit the sole marker of a successful business/club in Super League? Surely turnover is arguably as if not more important? I.e. an amateur club could post a yearly profit, but their turnover is so low that the could never compete in SL. Sorry for going off topic a bit.



#15 EastLondonMike

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 05:23 PM

London has no interest in it. Nor, looking at the attendance in Neath for Wales v Cook Islands, does South Wales.

 

 

Don't talk daft..


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#16 Padge

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 05:51 PM

Hi Parky, I realise you keep quoting this figure but it was 4700 and didn't include corporate (I was involved at the time btw) with a true figure at 5k. We didn't give 1 ticket away all year and were torn before a ball was passed, due to lack of players available and two down - one thought at the time was to save the money and  recruit a team for the following year to go straight back up stronger. Oh and we also returned a profit despite everything else I wont go into  - what a business eh!!!!

Don't you think a Leigh team in SL based at the LSV would have much more potential? 7k average imo at full prices

 

The official figure for Leigh's SL season was actually 4,750.

 

That is the figure that should be used for comparisons.



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#17 The Parksider

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 05:55 PM

Hi Parky, I realise you keep quoting this figure but it was 4700 and didn't include corporate (I was involved at the time btw) with a true figure at 5k. We didn't give 1 ticket away all year and were torn before a ball was passed, due to lack of players available and two down - one thought at the time was to save the money and  recruit a team for the following year to go straight back up stronger. Oh and we also returned a profit despite everything else I wont go into  - what a business eh!!!!
Don't you think a Leigh team in SL based at the LSV would have much more potential? 7k average imo at full prices


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#18 The Parksider

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 05:59 PM

I'm no financial expert but is profit the sole marker of a successful business/club in Super League? Surely turnover is arguably as if not more important?


To manage to just have a toehold in SL you need £3.2M (ref:CKN) The bigger and more successful the club the more they turn over.

Clubs aren't real businesses in the sense they crave profit for shareholders. They spend all their profit on trying to climb the league, and their bigger shareholders tend to gift the clubs money by the £Million.

#19 GeordieSaint

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 05:59 PM

Don't talk daft..

 

I agree with that; London may actually have the largest attendance of the entire tournament if Wembley sales keep going well; plenty of Welsh people at Cardiff too, which was actually fairly sparse of more traditional accents attributed to this great game from my experience.


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#20 Methven Hornet

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 08:19 PM


I've no clear idea why it was the mill towns of East Lancs preferred the round ball, maybe working in mills led to different physical attributes to working in the mines, and the mill worker was better suited in this regard for a less physical sport? It is really interesting to look up the original members of the FA and see how many were from the Lancashire mill towns. Maybe Barnsley went for soccer as it had a closer relationship with Sheffield which obviously was at the heart of roundball?

 

 

Rugby league's birth was in the mill towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire (and Cheshire in the case of Stockport.


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