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Mumby Magic

Do we deserve to be in the National Papers?

83 posts in this topic

Has anyone done any serious investigation as to why we don't get more coverage? Or, more seriously, why our coverage seems to be declining. We could ask, I suppose, but I fear we would get a 'stock' answer such as 'sold our soul to Murdoch', 'you're just a professional version of rugby for which there is no reason anymore' or, the classic 'you are just a regional game, read about your game in the Yorkshire Post'. But would it be interesting to see what attitudes of sports editors are?

There's a post on the Community Game forum that describes St Alban's coverage (I think) in their local press. What was excellent coverage declined when a new editor was appointed. It turned out that the new guy had no experience of RL at all but soon came around after a bit of effort from the club. I fear that sort of effort has been made by the RFL at national level, however.

The fear I have is that the game is paying the price of its history. It has not expanded anywhere near enough to have buried itself into the national consciousness - and that failure is not just one of growing outside of the northern counties. The overwhelming strength of the game is still limited largely to the northern industrial towns that gave birth to the Northern Union. Go just a few miles from one of the heartland towns and you will find a rugby league wasteland equal to anywhere else in the UK.

The work carried out in recent years has been excellent, especially given scarce resources, but this is something that should have happened and been persevered with at the beginning of the 20th century, not the 21st.

Another thing that occurs to me, however, is that the game is still anchored in the same northern industrial working class that has always been its base. Unfortunately the world has moved on and that base has declined over the years in terms of size and, arguably, in status, influence and economic well-being. While, as a bloc, the games followers may once have interested sponsors, advertisers and national newspaper editors (and political parties, as it happens!) I don't think that is the case today.

Bluntly, and this does sound superficial (but then isn't the UK national press?), the game and it's followers are not fashionable. Union and cricket have the middle classes and the establishment enthusing after them, with soccer mopping up most other people (and notice how some of soccer's more working class supporters complain about being priced out of Premiership football).

Playing devil's advocate, what does rugby league offer that makes it attractive to the national press (and remember its nature at present, not how it may have been in the past), given the make-up and backgrounds of its players and supporters?

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I often enjoy his posts, and he contributes a lot of information, but he does have a tendency to 'go off on one' and present his opinions as absolute fact (don't know where the hell he gets that from).

In this case there is only one possible absolute fact that RU is wider spread than RL at the professional level. You can't have an opinion on it.

An opinion is whether RL will ever catch up with RU on this spread or not

Edited by bowes

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Damn! I've just realised that I have missed the Camanachd Cup final between Fort William and Kingussie. I'm not a great fan of shinty but it is usually a great experience to watch the annual showpiece. A more competitive and passionate sporting occasion you'll struggle to find in these islands, and the game holds such a treasured place in the heartland communities that play the game (mostly small highland towns and villages but they do have the odd outpost club in the south - Tayforth in Perth and Glasgow MA, for example).

You'll not find that much in the Sunday or Monday morning papers, however, although there will probably be a 'colour-piece' in the Scotsman and the Herald tomorrow - you'll know the type of thing.

The thing is the sport has been happy enough to stick with its own 'ethnic' group and has never really made that big a thing about expanding southwards into the big industrial towns and cities. Therefore it remains a regional novelty and doesn't really get the national coverage its regional passion perhaps deserves.

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I suggested they should change the title to Super League Express but I note they haven't changed it. :rolleyes::rolleyes:

So, how can we complain about our game not getting national media coverage when we don't cater for a large part of it ourselves.

There would be on average 60-70,000 RL fans watching a game of Super League each week compared to maybe 3,000 watching a Championship 1 game.

That does look like a fair comparison in my opinion.

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The upsurge of Super League changed the face of Rugby League in more ways than one. It seems it was around this time that International attendances seemed to drop as the club game became Full Time and many SL clubs attendances grew. A drop international interest in the sport has paralleled the national media slowly, slowlyy dropping away from our sport. Could we fill Wembley or even Old Trafford now for an International fixture??

The World Cup's inconsistency of numbers, concept and irregular year patterns makes our sport look amateurish at the top level. The first RU world cup was somewhat of tin pot tournament but consistent year patterns and strategic hosting venues has enabled it to build. I feel our next World Cup is one of only consolidation and the retreat to our northern venues will emphasise how much work is still to be done.

This is a simplistic argument and one that I dislike. Whilst the first RUWC was 'tinpot' it quickly caught on because there were a good core of sides that were competitive and could have hopes of winning it. Rugby League has never had this, we have 3 competitive sides and another 3/4 credible sides at a push.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't have a more regular and thought out World Cup but it's not as simple as put one on and it will work. Our problems run far deeper.

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This is a simplistic argument and one that I dislike. Whilst the first RUWC was 'tinpot' it quickly caught on because there were a good core of sides that were competitive and could have hopes of winning it. Rugby League has never had this, we have 3 competitive sides and another 3/4 credible sides at a push.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't have a more regular and thought out World Cup but it's not as simple as put one on and it will work. Our problems run far deeper.

A good core competitive? Usual suspects normally winning ala RLWC.

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Does rugby league deserve more coverage in the national papers? Not on the evidence of the poorly attended games seen in this weekends 2 play off matches. If the play offs can not generate interest in rugby league towns then why on earth would peter in bodmin want to read about it. Perhaps the only point of interest to other sports fans would be the headscratching play off structure which would probably give them a bit of laugh.

18000 fans for 2 play off games is garbage. Compare that to the 25000 average crowd of norwich city for 3rd division football last season. How could any rugby league journo realistically ask his editor for more room in his paper.

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Perhaps the first thing to say is that the question is on its way to being a historical one any way. The printed media is on its way down the toilet at this point in history. Extinction beckons. RL should be thinking more about how it gets its face on the media of the future.

The current situation is, probably, based on the idea that a lie told often enough becomes the truth. I doubt that anyone really knows how many people will read a report on an RU game versus an RL game or indeed how many are actually interested. It is a perception that people will read the former more than the latter whereas people will probably read what ever you put in. If the RU/RL coverage in, say, The Independent were inverted to 1 column of the former and 4 pages of the latter then it would change the sales figure hardly at all. It would affect advertising very little I think. The Independent just hear the same lie as has always been told and hear it as the truth.

I think it takes a big incident (The Sun/Hillsborough/Merseyside) to make a big difference in sales of printed media these days and replacing Leicester v Wasps with Wigan v Hull KR just isn't that big an incident.

RL will outlast The Guardian, may be the last issue will include the thought that more RL coverage would have been a good idea.

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League Express - Mon 24th July 2017

Rugby League World - August 2017