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  1. The brand of rugby league is unjustifiably low, with negative connotations where any even exist. And the clubs and the governing bodies have completely failed to grow revenue at all. The two are linked, but any strategy has to work out how to make a step change in both. Might a modest investment in opening up northern American and possibly French opportunities transform both image and income in the medium to long term future? Shuffling league structures, the same clubs playing each other over and over again and tinkering with rules won’t make any significant impact. And the issue of grounds being sub standard should largely just be an issue insofar as it affects club revenue - which it does for many clubs, although do Salford make more money now as a tenant than they did in the Willows? - and brand, which night actually be enhanced with full atmospheric historic grounds. There are a lot of challenges but there are also a lot of opportunities out there too with sporting globalisation and a change in how people watch sport. We need strong leadership rather than design by committee and I hope Elstone is the man to deliver this. His last days at Everton and his first days in SL haven’t inspired a lot of confidence, but it’s still early and there may yet be a grand plan being developed.
  2. I think the salary cap has evened teams out a little and also helped prevent some clubs from themselves, but evidence does suggest we are still a long way from ensuring financial health and producing an even competition. In a promotion and relegation environment I’d be tempted to go for a financial fair play arrangement as in football - and although I appreciate only a few clubs could compete at the top level I suspect it’d be a similar number as we have now anyway (albeit with an add/omit or two). If we had licensing there are other ways of assisting in evening out the competition that we haven’t tried. A draft isn’t likely to be too popular but you could ensure everyone does get exactly the same central funding, and you could have a variable overseas quota according to league position as top UK talent is likely to be more expensive than overseas equivalents (or at least it has been historically) etc etc
  3. I watched the first half last night and I thought the occasion looked fantastic as ever in Toronto. Great to have such an exotic place making a go of the game I’ve loved all my life. What’s there not to like? O’Brien is a fantastic player, and Wallace to me looks lots better than McCrone from what I’ve seen. Really like the big boppers, wonder how they’ll fair against SL teams in the Super 8s? Emmitt is a great player to have in your team too, think he’s come on a lot since his initial introduction to the top flight, and I think there could be similar stories for many of the lesser names in the squad. Leigh are good side, they just struggled from the off and were always chasing it. They are good enough to mix things up in the 8s if they make it though. I love this game.
  4. Mushy

    No ACL? No worries.

    Gary Connolly played on for years after snapping an ACL whilst on a short stint with Harlequins RU if I recall. Extraordinary really.
  5. Whilst the overall experience of the day looks good, I think Toronto should work on their half time entertainment a tad. I much prefer US collegiate style cheer leading with mixed troupes and acrobatic stuff to the NFL style in your face stud. myself. That being said I’d love to see Jefferson come up against his equivalent at Wire. The stadium could be improved significantly without the need to move if the Wolfpack were up for it alongside the owners. No need to lose all the good elements of the ground for a much larger soul-less one as you lose the atmosphere. Talking of which there will be a short piece on the BBC’s coverage of the FIFA World Cup showing how you can design venues to enhance atmosphere, worth a look when it comes on for those who are interested in this sort of thing. Thought Toronto were solid and professional tonight with their key players making decisive interventions when needed. Looking good for a great Super 8s.
  6. Mushy

    Australia to Play Tonga in Qatar?

    That’d be brilliant but I suspect most of the dosh will go elsewhere.
  7. Mushy

    Australia to Play Tonga in Qatar?

    Comedy gold this from the Aussies. Wouldn’t have been so bad taking the dosh if they weren’t so two faced. No one will be in the stadium, it won’t get close to helping develop the game like the same match In australasia, but they’ll make some money so it’s ok. Now if the RLIF were getting the money to actually develop the game I might be able to see the point but after they’ve spent their billion dollar TV money Australia probably do need a bit more cash. Could have been worse, they could have played in Saudi or Dubai, although they have seriously considered the last one in a rather shameful dose of amnesia after our guy in the UAE was jailed.
  8. Mushy

    New Wolfpack Signing??

    TWP after Lussick from Manly? A tad more expensive than Springer though.
  9. Mushy

    Huddersfield's tin can/cowbell

    Gateshead Thunder had some steel drums and stuff at their home games in 1999 and they were loads of fun. I’d stick with them if the majority of the Giants fans are supportive. The Thunder also had their ‘windy man’ that inflated after a score plus a very entertaining play list. Plus their fans developed a few chants of their own as anyone who was at Tynecastle that year could testify.
  10. Mushy

    Gareth O’Brien off to Toronto

    Should play fullback for TWP. Been excellent for Salford there and as good as QLT is at running the ball he’s not a standout at this level at #1.
  11. Worth exploring further I think. In terms of producing players and having teams where the game is supported then Cumbria ticks the boxes. Might never be a top club without shed loads of money but could be in the mix and add more diversity to the top flight. The stadium would be an issue, although if the new ground on the west coast is finally built that would be a good home, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to play at the other championship grounds too. Whether Marwan is the right man or quite how the business plan will ever totally stack up I don’t know. A good spring/summer/autumn destination for away fans which would help boost the local economy (not many visitors venture much west of Windermere currently) so maybe there’s be buy-in and support from other stakeholders in the region though.
  12. You’ve got to separate his performances from character and attitude. We saw evidence of the former, and can only speculate on the latter. He seemed to lose any impact when he slimmed down, and impact was his whole game. He could have worked his socks off and either just not had it any more or maybe the training he was doing was counterproductive. Oz players often comment on the different physiques of players after a year or two in the SL, maybe he’s another example of one it just didn’t suit. Good luck to him in Newcastle, I hope it works out for him and his family.
  13. Thank you for the detailed critique on my post. Seems you disagree with pretty much everything I’ve written, which is of course fine, although you can do that without patronisingly telling someone they are letting themselves down, though! Pretty sure I wasn’t ranting either, and my comment about a club from another sport wanting to invest in our sport would have been valid even if a soccer club were looking to do the same.
  14. Agreed. He was awful last year. What was interesting was that apparently he slimmed down this year - or Wigan slimmed him down - in the mistaken belief that this would make him more effective. Take a look at the NRL packs and they are massively powerful but not necessarily lean as you still need the weight to make a dent in the defensive line. It was again an observation of the NRL teams and you saw it during the World Cup - the antipodean based players make more ground on impact than ours, which largely comes down to appropriate conditioning. FPN was incredible at times in the NRL, Wigan picked him up when he was on a decline, he played a few half decent matches before losing any remaining NRL power and becoming a very ordinary overpaid player.
  15. Pretty sure it the Newcastle rugby clubs share the same owner rather than the union club owning the league club. Subtle but important difference. Also, having been an investor in Gateshead previously myself, the relationship between the codes in that area is quite different to many other parts of the UK with little animosity and a greater acceptance of League for what it is. It’s a digression I know, but if the Thunder had received the same funding as the other Super League clubs it was not too much of an extrapolation to see the initial investment having been enough to stave off the merger and make them break even within three years, and hence they might have been a major club in the game by now. They were owned and run by Leaguies rather than someone who wanted to use a venue or expand a brand importantly. Worthwhile understanding this when some think we’ve tried expansion and it’s failed. We’ve barely tried at all, and in almost all cases the game hasn’t put its money where it’s mouth is and committed to making ventures a success, reluctantly sharing meagre levels of TV revenue with new clubs at all levels who have rarely had the resources to see it through on their own. I’m really not sure about where Coventry sits in all this - the Bears will be Leaguies wanting their club to be a long term success. Wasps getting involved will want a return sharpish to fund their primary business however. I disagree about Toronto though - it’s owned and run by people who are now Leaguies and aren’t using this as a means to another sporting end. Sure they won’t have a bottomless pit of money but their pockets are sufficiently deep to see this through. Plus there aren’t any negative brand associations with the sport there that there appear to be elsewhere through exposure to union and its press.