To paraphrase Michael Corleone in one of the later Godfather movies try to stay out ofr thise TRL debates but they drag me in.......
The facts are these :
NRL clubs and the commission have made it very clear to their counterparts in the RFL that without a top level presence in the Capital City the game lacks credibility in the northern hemisphere. As Martyn Sadler put it if the cannot expand into London then it will not expand anywhere.
At Red Hall cold reality is beginning to bite, a small niche sport played around the M62,gets little in way of sponsorship and media exposure and the way Jeopardy has been set up it reflects less jeopardy than predictablity. So an air of panic ensues and more "initiatives" are tried out.
For sure I have advocated on this board the playing of matches outside the M62 as a way of stimulating interest in the sport. However this needs to be part of a concerted plan not a one off effort of which examples such as Windsor park in 2000 and Bristol; in 2013 stand out. Just what is the plan here ?
Comparisons with the NFL are facile simply because to see an NFL game outside of Wembley involves a 7 to 10 hour plane trip and going through borders wheras in the UK it involves a 3 hour train journey from the Capital and no borders, though the idea of a "wakefield wall" does appeal...
So you would end up with a game whereby the majority of attenders are from the participating clubs, either beefing about losing a Home game from their season ticket * or losing the "magic" weekend That fun event that means so much to many of you on here and if the majority of attendees are from the north then it kind of defeats the purpose does it not.
Of course you could argue that by strategically placing a Super League game it prevents the chances of a NRL game perhaps between say the Roosters and Manly being played in London. This game would sell out as any one who attended Australia v New Zealand at the Stoop a few years back can attest for there is the antipodean fan base for the NRL if not for Super League within Greater London. This is an idea that has been bandied about and could work but will not for the commission would not want to tread on Red Hall's toes at present, but of course as the feeling grows that League in the northern hemisphere is a secondary game, as with proposed changes to the rules of the game it could be that there comes a point in time where the NRL Clubs no longer care what the RFL thinks if they feel they can make a buck or two...
Does it help the moribund Broncos?. Well I was at the shirt launch in potters fields during my lunchbreak and while London does indeed now have the kit to kill for and one I will buy, the rest I am afraid highlighted to me how much the club has sunk, Something I did not do on this board was report what I saw for fear of being labelled the grinch that stole christmas. As opposed to a season launch in 2009 much better attended over the other side of the river this one imvolved an impromptu strip in chilly potters fields and lining up in a V shape in front of iconic Tower Bridge with the diminutive malteser Joe Grima at the apex of the V for the benefit of the few die hards in attendance and curious Japanese tourists snapping away. I had to laugh on going away at the following conversation between two young women heading to City Hall "who are they" "there a Rugby League team" "where was Jonny Wilkinson" Sorry folks I could not resist interjecting at that point to the girls that "Jonny is a Wigan fan this is London Broncos"..
ts laughable to suggest that more Home fans will be turning up this year, As I have posted many times previously, fans down south have a portfolio of sporting interests, most of which predated involvement in Rugby League. Unlike Championship fans who pack out the local Golf course if their club cannot be subsidised into Super League, fans down here return to their other sporting interests. It doies not mean you cease to be interested in Rugby League the game or watch it on TV but what it does means is that the game does drop down your sporting pecking order so you watch from the sofa or from the stands less than before. In my case I am only slated to watch 5/6 Home Games , the pre-season against Skolars and Skolars-Wigan at the HAC, plus about 4 NRL games during the CWC.
Now I am a fan some of you may have inadvertantly met who has been since the dawn of Super League traversing the country in search of Rugby League. Yet for the first time, I may not be at the end of year England v New Zealand Series or the Grand Final. As John Drake once posted after 30 odd years or so why was London still regarded as an "expansion" area and not one of Rugby League's heartlands. if that holds true, then is not the gradual disconnnection from the game of heartlands supporters like myself from down south every bit as concerning to Red Hall as the disaffection of Leigh, Featherstone, Halifax and of course Keighley fans ?
* it does also remind me of the time when Wigan tried a ladies day which women would be allowed in free to the JJB and idea that was spiked when a male Wigan Season pass holder claimed Sex Discrimination. So imagine the meltdown a game at Loftus road would cause.
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