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Mumby Magic

Do we deserve to be in the National Papers?

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We seem to have a view that our sport deserves more coverage in the national papers yet do we deserve it? Are we professionally a national sport?

List 1 - North - South Divide (36 Clubs)

Wigan

St Helens

Warrington

Leeds

Huddersfield

Hull FC

Hull KR

Crusaders

Castleford

Bradford

Wakefield

Salford

Harlequins

Catalans Dragons

Featherstone

Halifax

Leigh

Barrow

Widnes

Sheffield

Batley

Toulouse

Dewsbury

Whitehaven

Keighley

Hunslet

Oldham

York

Blackpool

Rochdale

South Wales

Workington

Swinton

Doncaster

London Skolars

Gateshead

Red denotes North, Green - South and Blue European.

So we have 31 Northern Clubs, 3 Southern 2 European Clubs gracing the game at Professional level. Should Fleet Street be interested? For my love of the sport, the game itself my heart says 100000% YES! However when you write it down and look at it simply less than a sixth of the clubs are in the South. 2 in London and one in Wales. The game is played in practically every county in the Country - possibly all - at amateur level but the Flagship for us mediawise is the Professional game.

The M62 Stereotype

Another banner attached to our game is the M62 tag. What this ahs to do with anything is beyond me. Yes people may turn up there noses in certain areas of our game but does it matter if our clubs are on the M62 Corridor?

Wigan

St Helens

Warrington

Leeds

Huddersfield

Hull FC

Hull KR

Crusaders

Castleford

Bradford

Wakefield

Salford

Harlequins

Catalans Dragons

Featherstone

Halifax

Leigh

Barrow

Widnes

Sheffield

Batley

Toulouse

Dewsbury

Whitehaven

Keighley

Hunslet

Oldham

York

Blackpool

Rochdale

South Wales

Workington

Swinton

Doncaster

London Skolars

Gateshead

13 out of the 36 clubs cannot be tagged as an M62 club, just over a third. This shows a better geographic spread for our beloved hacks.

So what do we do? Just get on with our beloved sport, forget about the national media and national coverage? Be patient and let the fruits of our amateur labour grow over time which may be too late? Use the South Wales model for future expansion? Should we really be bothered or are we naive and arrogant because we love the game so much?

Edited by Mumby Magic

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It's a very fair point. I think we need to do more to get semi-professional clubs going in the south, but what? Do we make an easier format for the clubs to be sustainable? What would that be?

For me, you only need to look at South Wales Scorpions as a bit of a model for other areas with a fairly decent amateur set-up. Holding trials with mainly amateurs in the region in order to build the team, and they have been pretty competitive. Surely there are more areas that could manage? The South West? South East? Midlands? There must be at least enough decent amateurs for one team in each?

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We seem to have a view that our sport deserves more coverage in the national papers yet do we deserve it? Are we professionally a national sport?

List 1 - North - South Divide (36 Clubs)

Wigan

St Helens

Warrington

Leeds

Huddersfield

Hull FC

Hull KR

Crusaders

Castleford

Bradford

Wakefield

Salford

Harlequins

Catalans Dragons

Featherstone

Halifax

Leigh

Barrow

Widnes

Sheffield

Batley

Toulouse

Dewsbury

Whitehaven

Keighley

Hunslet

Oldham

York

Blackpool

Rochdale

South Wales

Workington

Swinton

Doncaster

London Skolars

Gateshead

Red denotes North, Green - South and Blue European.

So we have 31 Northern Clubs, 3 Southern 2 European Clubs gracing the game at Professional level. Should Fleet Street be interested? For my love of the sport, the game itself my heart says 100000% YES! However when you write it down and look at it simply less than a sixth of the clubs are in the South. 2 in London and one in Wales. The game is played in practically every county in the Country - possibly all - at amateur level but the Flagship for us mediawise is the Professional game.

The M62 Stereotype

Another banner attached to our game is the M62 tag. What this ahs to do with anything is beyond me. Yes people may turn up there noses in certain areas of our game but does it matter if our clubs are on the M62 Corridor?

Wigan

St Helens

Warrington

Leeds

Huddersfield

Hull FC

Hull KR

Crusaders

Castleford

Bradford

Wakefield

Salford

Harlequins

Catalans Dragons

Featherstone

Halifax

Leigh

Barrow

Widnes

Sheffield

Batley

Toulouse

Dewsbury

Whitehaven

Keighley

Hunslet

Oldham

York

Blackpool

Rochdale

South Wales

Workington

Swinton

Doncaster

London Skolars

Gateshead

13 out of the 36 clubs cannot be tagged as an M62 club, just over a third. This shows a better geographic spread for our beloved hacks.

So what do we do? Just get on with our beloved sport, forget about the national media and national coverage? Be patient and let the fruits of our amateur labour grow over time which may be too late? Use the South Wales model for future expansion? Should we really be bothered or are we naive and arrogant because we love the game so much?

Just as the professional game is overwhelmingly northern, so it is overwhelmingly M62 at its top level as your list highlights.

So what should the game do? It has to expand its geographical spread at all levels of the game. I think, finally, that the governing body realises this and is trying to implement expansion, with quite meagre resources and against a lot of internal opposition.

As you hint at, waiting for the game at amateur level in expansion areas to 'mature' into a professional level is not going to work. Even our strongest community clubs in the south have failed to make the transition to even the most basic professional level.

What is the South Wales method? Using the expertise, enthusiasm and playing resources of an identifiable region, with the necessary financial backing from local business people (with, of course a lot of input from the RFL)? We really have to hope that something like this can work and be reproduced in other areas.

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Yes we should be bothered. Sports with national coverage will have a much easier time getting sponsorship and good TV contracts than ones with just regional coverage. The lists you've given compare very poorly to other pro sports in England -- and the second list would be seen by media people as an attempt to make the spread look broader than it really is since most of those 13 clubs are in 3 counties.

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Just as the professional game is overwhelmingly northern, so it is overwhelmingly M62 at its top level as your list highlights.

So what should the game do? It has to expand its geographical spread at all levels of the game. I think, finally, that the governing body realises this and is trying to implement expansion, with quite meagre resources and against a lot of internal opposition.

As you hint at, waiting for the game at amateur level in expansion areas to 'mature' into a professional level is not going to work. Even our strongest community clubs in the south have failed to make the transition to even the most basic professional level.

What is the South Wales method? Using the expertise, enthusiasm and playing resources of an identifiable region, with the necessary financial backing from local business people (with, of course a lot of input from the RFL)? We really have to hope that something like this can work and be reproduced in other areas.

I suppose it would be establishing a semi-pro club from the ashes of an SL club that relocated, rather like the rebirth of Sheffield after the original club there got absorbed by Huddersfield.

Realistically expansion of the pro game has to target areas relatively close to the heartlands that can still show a bigger geographic spread. The Sheffield model might work well in Midland cities (like Nottingham or Coventry for example) where a semi-pro RL club could offer business partners exposure for much less cost than the pro soccer clubs there could give them and the following factors exist:

* a big local population.

* being fairly close to the heartlands makes travel to away games there more feasible than more distant places.

This combination of factors seems to offer the best prospect for viable expansion that might be able to attract the right investors.

Edited by Big Picture

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It's a very fair point. I think we need to do more to get semi-professional clubs going in the south, but what? Do we make an easier format for the clubs to be sustainable? What would that be?

For me, you only need to look at South Wales Scorpions as a bit of a model for other areas with a fairly decent amateur set-up. Holding trials with mainly amateurs in the region in order to build the team, and they have been pretty competitive. Surely there are more areas that could manage? The South West? South East? Midlands? There must be at least enough decent amateurs for one team in each?

South East has too little RL for now and South West is just RU off season players with the partial exception of Bristol. Midlands I'd like to see eventually one each east and west midlands once juniors have come through for a while, but it's perhaps wrong to talk about the semi-pro/amateur split still being in the same place then.

Edited by bowes

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So what do we do? Just get on with our beloved sport, forget about the national media and national coverage? Be patient and let the fruits of our amateur labour grow over time which may be too late? Use the South Wales model for future expansion? Should we really be bothered or are we naive and arrogant because we love the game so much?

Do you really think Rugby League would get better coverage if it was more geographically spread out?

I honestly don't anymore. When we get a couple of lines in most Nationals for a game at Wembley that was officially a sell-out then it's a pretty poor do. Either John Drake or Martyn Sadler posted on here earlier this year about how hard it is to court the National press even with freebies, so I think unless something absolutely drastic happens, we as a sport are always going to be stereotyped and this is a comfortable option for many sports editors.

If we had Plymouth Titans playing Gateshead Thunder in the Grand Final in 10 years time, I'm sure it wouldn't attract that much publicity. Both London and Perpignan having teams at Wembley failed to excite the National press or media in recent years, so we're pretty much p!ssing against the wind looking for it.

I'm all for expansion of the game, but I fail to be optimistic about any significantly increased coverage it would get our sport anymore and I haven't a clue how we ever will I'm afraid, especially when the broadcasters and media seem to prefer the other code of rugby. For example, the BBC Radio 5 sports program last Saturday morning came live from the ground of Exeter RUFC and trumpeted the arrival of Exeter into the top flight of Rugby Union. We'd never ever get the same in February from the likes of Wrexham or Perpignan. We just aren't considered as newsworthy, despite the Aviva Premiership having a similar geographical split as the Engage Superleague, but with the bias towards southern based teams.

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I suppose it would be establishing a semi-pro club from the ashes of an SL club that relocated, rather like the rebirth of Sheffield after the original club there got absorbed by Huddersfield.

Ah, yes, I'd forgotten that bit. Get a Super League side in there first, excite people's interest and then take it away from them. The interest has been sparked, though, and the people still want their rugby league!

Seriously, a 'model' needs to be found for creating sustainable clubs at all professional levels, particularly at semi-pro level. If sustainable they can be reproduced.

Realistically expansion of the pro game has to target areas relatively close to the heartlands that can still show a bigger geographic spread. The Sheffield model might work well in Midland cities (like Nottingham or Coventry for example) where a semi-pro RL club could offer business partners exposure for much less cost than the pro soccer clubs there could give them and the following factors exist:

* a big local population.

* being fairly close to the heartlands makes travel to away games there more feasible than more distant places.

This combination of factors seems to offer the best prospect for viable expansion that might be able to attract the right investors.

That approach could work (although we have not got too good a track record) but it still not the answer to London and the south east - the area that, arguably, is most important to the national papers.

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Yes we do deserve more attention!

Amateur RL gets bigger crowds than County Cricket yet it gets pages and pages of national media coverage!

Just as RL is criticised as being M62 centric, Rugby Union is equally M4 centric- does the media care at all? Not a jot.

We are fighting bigotry and snobbery on a grand scale and it will take unified effort from everyone who is an RL Fan to change it. A full stadium for the Grand Final gets no coverage no matter how good the game...because close on 70,000 Northerners isn't as important as 15,000 Leicester supporters.....or so the papers think in Fleet Street.

It does need a spark though to kick start the change.

We must beat Australia is a Major competition or Test Series..........over to you lads!

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So we have 31 Northern Clubs, 3 Southern 2 European Clubs gracing the game at Professional level. Should Fleet Street be interested

Yes

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Do you really think Rugby League would get better coverage if it was more geographically spread out?

I honestly don't anymore. When we get a couple of lines in most Nationals for a game at Wembley that was officially a sell-out then it's a pretty poor do. Either John Drake or Martyn Sadler posted on here earlier this year about how hard it is to court the National press even with freebies, so I think unless something absolutely drastic happens, we as a sport are always going to be stereotyped and this is a comfortable option for many sports editors.

If we had Plymouth Titans playing Gateshead Thunder in the Grand Final in 10 years time, I'm sure it wouldn't attract that much publicity. Both London and Perpignan having teams at Wembley failed to excite the National press or media in recent years, so we're pretty much p!ssing against the wind looking for it.

I'm all for expansion of the game, but I fail to be optimistic about any significantly increased coverage it would get our sport anymore and I haven't a clue how we ever will I'm afraid, especially when the broadcasters and media seem to prefer the other code of rugby. For example, the BBC Radio 5 sports program last Saturday morning came live from the ground of Exeter RUFC and trumpeted the arrival of Exeter into the top flight of Rugby Union. We'd never ever get the same in February from the likes of Wrexham or Perpignan. We just aren't considered as newsworthy, despite the Aviva Premiership having a similar geographical split as the Engage Superleague, but with the bias towards southern based teams.

A game at Wembley between two northern teams only reinforces their perception of a regional game. Having the odd non-Northern team get there once in a while isn't enough to change it, more is needed. If neither team was from the north things might start to change.

It's the particular split that makes all the difference. Australian RL is regional but being based in Sydney it gets plenty of good coverage. If English RL was predominantly in the south and midlands it would have plenty of national coverage the way Australian RL does.

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We just aren't considered as newsworthy, despite the Aviva Premiership having a similar geographical split as the Engage Superleague, but with the bias towards southern based teams.

:lol::wacko:

Are you for real?

The RU Premiership has 1/4 of its teams in the north where 1/4 of the population is. Sounds pretty fair representation of the north. The only major skew from the country's demographics is the South West is overrepresented, London and the South East is believe it or not slightly underrepresented per capita

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the aim of the RFL should be to try and set up semi pro leagues to form a ladder under the co op leagues and have promotion and relegation if there is the quality and desire not to mention funding to compete with more established clubs. the game needs a couple of new success stories over the next few years to gain some interest in the 2013 world cup and that would boost the game in this country greatly.

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Why should they be interested when the game's so regional?

The London Underground is even more regional yet a strike on it dominates the national news.

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Do you really think Rugby League would get better coverage if it was more geographically spread out?

I honestly don't anymore. When we get a couple of lines in most Nationals for a game at Wembley that was officially a sell-out then it's a pretty poor do. Either John Drake or Martyn Sadler posted on here earlier this year about how hard it is to court the National press even with freebies, so I think unless something absolutely drastic happens, we as a sport are always going to be stereotyped and this is a comfortable option for many sports editors.

If we had Plymouth Titans playing Gateshead Thunder in the Grand Final in 10 years time, I'm sure it wouldn't attract that much publicity. Both London and Perpignan having teams at Wembley failed to excite the National press or media in recent years, so we're pretty much p!ssing against the wind looking for it.

I'm all for expansion of the game, but I fail to be optimistic about any significantly increased coverage it would get our sport anymore and I haven't a clue how we ever will I'm afraid, especially when the broadcasters and media seem to prefer the other code of rugby. For example, the BBC Radio 5 sports program last Saturday morning came live from the ground of Exeter RUFC and trumpeted the arrival of Exeter into the top flight of Rugby Union. We'd never ever get the same in February from the likes of Wrexham or Perpignan. We just aren't considered as newsworthy, despite the Aviva Premiership having a similar geographical split as the Engage Superleague, but with the bias towards southern based teams.

Absolutely spot on. I just wish I could have written that lot as well.

That the bias exists and grows ever more so is rejected by so many, yet the facts whern examined scrutinously, speak so very clearly for themselves. We could manage to whistle up our own Ar ******s and still the sports editors of most of the National media would find an excuse to ingnore it.

No game gives or offers anymore that a game of Rugby League, also the people involved are among the fittest and best players around in any sport. Yet even when the biggest attendence at any sporting ocassion is an R/L ( Wembley two or three weeks ago) match, the papers and television stations still largely ignore it.

We could go and whack the Aussies for the next forty years and they would still persist in ignoring the game almost entirely, or send a union reporter to give his condescendingly 'expert' opinion upon went on: for those interested? :angry2:

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So since SKY has bought and hidden the game away from the majority of the populous, such that nobody knows we're here and we will surely die at the hands of uncaring fleet street editors and their slimey hacks, I wonder how the lack of coverage badly affected the launch of the Crusaders, or did 10,000 fans hear about it and actually turn up?

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So since SKY has bought and hidden the game away from the majority of the populous, such that nobody knows we're here and we will surely die at the hands of uncaring fleet street editors and their slimey hacks, I wonder how the lack of coverage badly affected the launch of the Crusaders, or did 10,000 fans hear about it and actually turn up?

Your exhuberant support for expansion is duly noted and appreciated, by most of the regular subscribers on here, but surely even you can recognise that such an event in any locality would engender a certain swell of support, if only of curiosty value, initially.

Sorry Parky but if you want an example of that, take a look back to the inaugural game of Paris St GermaineV Sheffield Eagles ( which the former even won), they had an attendence in excess of 17,000 but that did not hereld any new era or more importantly, continuing support for the game there, did it?

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the aim of the RFL should be to try and set up semi pro leagues to form a ladder under the co op leagues and have promotion and relegation if there is the quality and desire not to mention funding to compete with more established clubs.

When lower division union clubs are paying more than championship league clubs how is this achievable.

Guys will play for this

"English National 1 Club Seeks Lock. Player criteria: EU passport or UK ancestry visa. Package: Flights, accommodation, job and match fee up to 200GBP"

Rather MORE than what some established championship clubs can afford.

Take a look at what is on offer to union guys....

English National 2 Club Seeks Lock and Prop. If Overseas, must hold EU passport, UK ancestry visa etc. Package: Negotiable including - Flights, accommodation and job assistance. 100-120GBP match fee. 75 Win Bonus and Small Monthly Retainer

English National 2 Club Seeks 12. Player critera: NPC B standard, Sydney first grade etc. EU passport or UK ancestry visa. Package: Flights, accommodation, job and up to 100GBP match fee.

Spanish Division 1 Club Seeks 3. Player criteria: Premier club standard, must hold Spanish passport. Package: Flights, accommodation and up to 1000Euro per month.

English National 2 South Club Seeks 4/5. Player criteria: NPC B, Sydney first grade etc. Must hold EU passport or UK ancestry visa. Package: flights rebate, accommodation, job and match fee around 100GBP.

WE CAN NOT COMPETE WITH SUGAR DADDIES AND THATS WHAT IT MUST BE IN ALL THESE CASES AS THE CROWDS AND INCOME DO NOT JUSTIFY THESE CONTRACTS AT THE LOWER LEVELS. CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR MORE

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a snapshot only an TV not printed media but on a recent BBC TV sports segment the top stories were

International Soccer

International crikit

International womens union

International hockey

National Soccer

Regional Zurich/Guinness/Aviva rugby union

Regional SuperLeague

Union is as regional as league at the pro level but because it has an international dimension: lots of games on a regular and frequent basis, it gets more attention. You can hardy call what we do an international programme, though for most of the games listed above, it is the pinnacle of the game

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Union is as regional as league at the pro level

If you're going to tell lies at least make them believable, talking rubbish ruins your whole argument, soccer is actually less national at premiership level than RU if anything, the South West, Yorkshire and East Midlands are hardly premiership soccer hotbeds (used to be for the latter 2), where's most clubs are London or North West. RU has Premiership teams in 8 out of 9 English regions and a team from the 9th region (West Midlands) just got relegated.

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If you're going to tell lies at least make them believable, talking rubbish ruins your whole argument, soccer is actually less national at premiership level than RU if anything, the South West, Yorkshire and East Midlands are hardly premiership soccer hotbeds (used to be for the latter 2), where's most clubs are London or North West. RU has Premiership teams in 8 out of 9 English regions and a team from the 9th region (West Midlands) just got relegated.

...and breathe...better now? :D

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To answer the question in the OP, while we deserve to be in the national media, it would be hard to argue the case for the coverage to be more extensive. Why? Simply because at national level, RL isn't as popular as other sports. This comes down to the sport being centred around the club game. In other sports the main focus of attention is on the international game - Football, Cricket and RU being the main examples. Until we make the international game the focus of attention, or at least more important than it is now, nothing will change.

I know a lot of people on here are convinced it's just a big RU led conspiracy. 10 or 20 years ago it was probably true. But things have moved on. Comparisons are made between crowds like 15,000 for Leicester V Northampton and 85,000 for Warrington V Leeds. The important comparison should be 70,000 or so for the England RU team and the 20,000 for the England RL team. And that's even before you take into account the crowds for Wales and Scotland.

International competition is where you pull in the interest of the general sports fan. It's these people that RL has left behind. Pull them in with big international matches, and their interest may spread down to club level and hopefully even amateur level and participating in the game itself.

The Eddie Waring documentary midweek made a telling point. Every few weeks upto 1996, RL was broadcast into everybody's home. The sport picked up a lot of interest from the casual sports fan all over the country. That, sadly, was partially abandoned. RL's visibilty to the public at large has reduced, and along with it the interest. Cricket has faced the same dilemma - go for the money from Sky or keep the terrestrial coverage with the widespread coverage. The jury's out on the effects on cricket, but RL definatley seems to have suffered.

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...and breathe...better now? :D

You have to admit you were lying though?

It is beyond the wildest dreams of even Parksider that RL outside the north could be even nearly as big as RU in the north

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