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Toby Chopra

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  1. On the main point, I don't think we should be too worried if the NRL expands - that would be a sign of success for rugby league. And if it meant more UK players headed down under on big money contracts, that should be promoted as a good thing that can help drive up junior participation here. I've been involved in the UK American Football scene for many years, and I can tell you that one of the best recruiting and retention tools we've got for teens, is that new pathways are opening up for UK players to go to college in the states, and, maybe if things really went well, the possibility of a pro contract. We shouldn't think of NRL as a rival or a threat, it's the most powerful part of the global RL system and the better it does, the better we all will do in the long run.
  2. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just genuinely intrigued by why some Brisbaners hate the Broncos, when they're the only NRL team in the city, and a relatively new one at that? Are they from other states? Or fans of former QRL clubs who think Broncos ruined the local league? The Manchester analogy doesn't quite work for me - lots of people round the country hate United, but they all support *someone* else, whether a big club or a small one. If you lived in Manchester, but didn't support any club, so not really that into football, why would you hate United?
  3. Agreed. Someone explain to me what's in it for Salford? Is it a taster before a possible full transfer?
  4. The problem is, as long as P&R is in place, it's inevitable that SL will be focus because that's what teams are playing for. And if teams aren't strongly thinking about how they might cope in SL, they'll find themselves in for a rude shock when they get there which might wreck all the good work they've done. It's a paradox, but promotion would be the worst thing that could happen to half of the teams in the Championship. For the smaller clubs, a ring fenced heartland-based 'RFL Championship' that focuses on all the old rivalries, with a lower salary cap, would be the best thing for them. But for the 5 or 6 clubs that can aim a bit higher, any talk of closing the door is hugely damaging of what they've got going. It's really 2 leagues in one, and I have sympathy with both groups.
  5. I know some of you look for any opportunity to criticise Superleague, but I think facts help us when looking at questions like this. So I decided to have a look back at the 4 years of the Qualifiers results to see if there was any pattern we could observe that shows us that the format of the qualifiers SPECIFICALLY, rather than just the RETURN OF P&R, had any effect. Here's what I discovered: * From 2015-2018 Championship teams won 13 of 65 matchups vs SL teams (20%) * That's skewed by last year. From 2015-17, Ch won just 7 of 49 matchups (14%) * 2018 was (relatively) wild. Ch won 6 of 16 matchups (38%) * Looking more closely at those 13 championship wins: - 3 were defeats of a Widnes team that had basically collapsed - 2 were wins by full-time Toronto and Toulouse at home - 2 were wins by HKR in 2017 who stayed full time to bounce straight back up - 2 were wins by Leigh in 2016 who were promoted with a full-time side - London beat Salford twice (in 2016 and 2018) and Bradford beat Salford in 2015 having stayed full time after relegation. * The only genuine shock over the 4 years I can find is part-time Sheffield beating Wakefield in 2015 Looking at all of this, I can't see any evidence that the Qualifiers format IN ITSELF, did anything to raise standards. Indeed, Bradford went down, almost bounced back up, then collapsed. Leigh went up, then straight back down, London look like going the same way. What did happen, however, is that by reopening P&R, ambitious clubs with access to money were were incentivised mount a challenge and that of course HAS boosted standards in the championship. So although I myself enjoyed watching many of the qualifier games on TV as something novel, there seems to be no evidence that the format itself did anything for overall standards that won't still be in place with the current 1up/1 down system. Indeed, with a Championship playoff series now in place and no need to beat a SL team to go up, it's actually EASIER for a Champ team to be promoted, so hardly a pulling up of the drawbridge. Whether teams can stay up or just end up going straight back down will be determined by the same factors as it ever was - can they afford a squad that will be competitive at the highest level.
  6. Came across great on TV too. BBC do a good job and Dave Woods is quality in my view. Given its unlikely we're going to get a real expansion of the international game any time soon, we need to find a way to get the big derbies back on terrestrial more regularly, they're the best products we've got.
  7. Get this game back into Superleague, I don't care how you do it!
  8. Last time I looked we got £40 mln a year from Sky, which is based in London. Indeed just down the road from where you Chronicle from. If you're talking newspapers, they give their readers what they want to read, that's how they make their money. They don't - and never have - poured resources into things their readers have little interest in. Why would they? All the "London" papers have sizeable full-time groups of reporters based in the north covering football, because that's what their readers want. They also cover snooker, boxing and darts. Hardly southern middle class staples. If RL was more popular they'd cover it more. We've got to get away from this conspiracy theory that the "establishment media" is trying to purposely block coverage of RL. Whatever happened in the past, it doesn't do it now. I work for a London-based media company and I can tell you there's no conspiracy. There's just no incentive to boost what coverage there is beyond the small - but existing - amount there is now because there's no apparent prospect of a return. We, rugby league, have to make ourselves relevant, so the papers and whoever else think there's an audience for coverage. A better product, marketed and promoted in a modern and accessible way. If interest rises, so will media attention and, eventually, income. But it's down to us and us alone.
  9. My guess is that Sinfield - frustrated by how things are going - has tried to exert more influence over the day to day coaching. Furner has said no, which is his right if it changes the terms of his hire, but if they can't work together, then the director of rugby will always win. Expect Sinfield to have a lot of day to day influence now, like he did after they sacked BM. My question is, how much influence did Sinfield have over Furner's hiring in the first place? If he was a major part of it, then he's only got one shot left to hire the right guy.
  10. I'm genuinely puzzled by this, what do you propose teams do on the last tackle if they can't kick, especially when the set ends around midfield? When you watch NRL teams kick on the last and really turn the field, you realise what a skill it is and how much better, on average, their halves are at kicking.
  11. Looks like there's some quality in the Welsh community game, a good sign
  12. To any Kiwis on here, is there any prospect of NZ government buy-in? I remember when NZ hosted the union World Cup in 2011 hearing a NZ official saying that it was probably the last major global sports event that NZ would host, because the scale of such events these days just demanded countries with bigger infrastructure. They wouldn't even get to host the union world cup again because they just can't generate the revenues demanded. It's always struck me that a league World Cup *might* be of a size that NZ could run it, but it would need at least the same level of government support that England's been given for 2021, most of which has been toward paying for a fully professional organising committee and some up front money to secure key stadium bookings. But I think all the issues around the lions tour shows us NZ would need government backing, have it signed off and dates and kickoff times confirmed several years in advance, and then go all out to get British fans - and yes Aussies too - to travel in numbers. Would Aussies fans travel? They didn't seem to even for their own world cup.
  13. For the CCF, we always get a bunch early bird tickets in the front row of the upper tier, which are a bargain for a very good view, which means I can afford to hand out a couple of freebies to friends . I don't suppose the mechanics of crowd management at Wembley would allow this, but if it was possible to move down into the lower bowl for the 1895 final once many of the CCF fans have left, I might consider staying for it. A bit like you can move around at magic. But as anyone who tried to stay and watch the second World Cup semi in 2013 will attest, once the lower bowl empties, you feel like you're watching from another stadium up top.
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