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(Renamed thread) What RL can learn from the union 6 Nations

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And if they were, so what? The fact of the matter is that playing standards have improved and interest in the game has increased in Italy since they came into the 6 Nations, even though they spent the better part of a decade as the whipping boys. That needs patience, and RL doesn't seem to have it when it comes to the international game.

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To my mind, the most important thing RL could learn is to not give up on things too soon at international level (and every other level, I guess).

For most of the last decade, Italy were lucky to get a win a season, but they have gradually become a force to be reckoned with - wins over both France and Ireland, unlucky not to get a draw in England. Teams used to put out their second string against them, but now they have to put out a full-strength side or lose. They've also gone from struggling to fill a 20k ground to playing in the second largest in the tournament (not filling it yet, but it won't be long).

Their side used to be full of journeymen foreigners (as their RL side will likely be in the World Cup), but now their side is predominantly 'proper' Italian, with players like Sergio Parisse being amongst the best in the world.

If it was RL, there would have been calls to scrap the whole tournament after the first season Italy joined as it was a farce and an embarassment to the game, and they would never have a chance of competing with the top sides, so why bother playing them?

But its not just a question of putting nation sides into tournaments and then keeping them in. It's the whole matter of developing the game in that country, something RL always seems very handy at wanting to skip. We have teams like Ireland and Scotland who to be frank, if it wasn't for the 'heritage' players, wouldn't be anywhere near a World Cup. Have they got the resources domestically and a strong player base to back up the national side? No. We introduce teams like these into big tournaments, wheel out a skip load of SL and NRL players with the relevant link in the family tree, but in between tournaments little actually happens. You could include Italy in every single RL WC and 4N tournament for the next 15 years, but if back in Italy it's just a few amateur teams running round, it won't make a blind bit of difference.

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A good start would be Rugby League fans supporting International Rugby League - doing everything they can to attend the game instead of finding a reason to moan and belittle it. How can we built it if we don't support it?

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But its not just a question of putting nation sides into tournaments and then keeping them in. It's the whole matter of developing the game in that country, something RL always seems very handy at wanting to skip. We have teams like Ireland and Scotland who to be frank, if it wasn't for the 'heritage' players, wouldn't be anywhere near a World Cup. Have they got the resources domestically and a strong player base to back up the national side? No. We introduce teams like these into big tournaments, wheel out a skip load of SL and NRL players with the relevant link in the family tree, but in between tournaments little actually happens. You could include Italy in every single RL WC and 4N tournament for the next 15 years, but if back in Italy it's just a few amateur teams running round, it won't make a blind bit of difference.

Spot on.

Italy RU has 80,000 registered players, more than Scotland. Trying to incorporate them was not a risk really, especially when you know you have the finances to continue it long term.

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And just FYI the lure of SoO for Int'l players is gone as you need to have lived in QLD/NSW by the age of 13 to be eligible.

Not before time.

Blaming the NRL for Europe's problems is avoiding the issue.

I'm not solely blaming the NRL but the NRL and the RFL but at least we can see some tangible effort from the RFL/RLEF. Hopefully the NRL IC can see just how important the international game is to driving the sport forward. If they don't then we'll be having this same discussion in ten years time.

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Id restart the RLIF, it seems weak in comparison to other international bodies.

Different constitution and maybe different people in charge.

Also, I think that over here, we need more publication of our international matches. If theres 1 thing we can learn from union is that all of the game getd behind the international games. England seem to play their games on the same day as a full BARLA line up, maybe RFL and BARLA could sit down and work something out. One thing I remember from union is that amateur clubs can arrange with the RFU to get tickets for England matches, taking bus trips etc not sure if thats the case now, but maybe something that coild work and get attendances up.

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Spot on.

Italy RU has 80,000 registered players, more than Scotland. Trying to incorporate them was not a risk really, especially when you know you have the finances to continue it long term.

Has. Did they have that many when they came into the tournament back in 2000? I doubt it. The USA has more registered players than Wales, but they can't compete with them in internationals. Without the interest in the international game, the strides their domestic game would have been more difficult to fund, for starters.

My point is mostly that patience and long-term planning are what are needed, not knee-jerk reactions to any little setback. Look at the new CC1 clubs- people seem to think that they're failures if they aren't immediately competitive and drawing good crowds, when we should be praising them to the hilt and looking at where they can go in the longterm. Same goes for the international game.

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The new CEO of the RFL stated in interview that one issue that he intends to rectify is that R/L gets such a poor coverage from the National daily's and that this would be at or close to the top of his list for improvement. I sincerely hope he holds to that intention!

I applaud the intention and cannot wait to (hope) see such implemented. The coverage of Union in some of the papers is bordering upon sycophancy and R/L is desperately in need of some of that too, for until the game can obtain unbiased and decent coverage from all aspects of the media ( sky sport's, in most areas does deserve credit for doing it's bit, yet still does not come close to that which all other major sports receive from them in this country) the sport will not enlarge its spectator/supporter base.

This is and remains the largest obstacle the game has to overcome before anything else can be achieved.

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Brian Barwick is non-executive chairman

I think the level of RL coverage reflects the level of effort the RFL has put in over the years.

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Has. Did they have that many when they came into the tournament back in 2000? I doubt it.

No, but they still had respectable numbers. Rugby union goes back decades in Italy. Something that could not be said for RL in expansion areas.

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It's easy to blame the RFL as we have become a generation of blame finders, rather than agree that the problem is caused by the fans.

Looking at 90% of the users of Southdtander.com, they would never watch an England team tht didn't involve Leeds players.

The RFL can only do so much.

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It's easy to blame the RFL as we have become a generation of blame finders, rather than agree that the problem is caused by the fans.

Isn't that just going from one group of people to blame to another? I don't think it's down to the fans in the main at all.

Any business is responsible for how many customers it gets. And it's up to the RFL to make attract, must-see games for everyone to see.

Just because someone says or thinks they're a strong rugby league follower doesn't mean they are. And just because there's a game on doesn't mean people automatically should want to go.

It's not the fans fault that the product doesn't engage them enough. Unfortunately that's down to the organisers.

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Isn't that just going from one group of people to blame to another? I don't think it's down to the fans in the main at all.

Any business is responsible for how many customers it gets. And it's up to the RFL to make attract, must-see games for everyone to see.

Just because someone says or thinks they're a strong rugby league follower doesn't mean they are. And just because there's a game on doesn't mean people automatically should want to go.

It's not the fans fault that the product doesn't engage them enough. Unfortunately that's down to the organisers.

Nail on the head, blaming the fans has never ever resulted in a positive response, either at club level or international level. You will never guilt fans into going. The sad reality is that it just isn't appealing enough for people to part with their money and go. People have this misconception that 95% of fans that attend games are diehards when I suspect it isn't even half of this.

My club Widnes do this a lot and it has never garnered a response, we've been doing it all season and have many times in the past. I would suggest it has the reverse effect as people turn away when you are giving off the impression of a sinking ship.

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Can't agree there Wellsy, it seems to be a uniquely RL thing whereby significant numbers of fans (as opposed to the odd person that you may get in football or cricket or RU) actively ridicule and boycott both big RL club games and their international side.

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Can't agree there Wellsy, it seems to be a uniquely RL thing whereby significant numbers of fans (as opposed to the odd person that you may get in football or cricket or RU) actively ridicule and boycott both big RL club games and their international side.

If France could turn us over 30% of the time or at least lose in a close game, the crowds would be far higher. RL fans want to see games with the result in doubt. Nowt wrong with that. Its our own fault for fostering rules which lend to few shocks.

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pure speculation with no evidence base does not make a good business plan, though.

So, apart from the rules of the game and the lack of annual automatic points based P and R, what else is wrong, how would you put it right and even more importantly, who would you get to do it and why?

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If France could turn us over 30% of the time or at least lose in a close game, the crowds would be far higher. RL fans want to see games with the result in doubt. Nowt wrong with that. Its our own fault for fostering rules which lend to few shocks.

So why do Wales and Ireland fans turn up against the All Blacks? Look at their record.

I'm fairly sure some people are put off by potential one sided games but even when everything is equal fans still rarely back Internationals in big numbers, nor in the main, have they ever.

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Can't agree there Wellsy, it seems to be a uniquely RL thing whereby significant numbers of fans (as opposed to the odd person that you may get in football or cricket or RU) actively ridicule and boycott both big RL club games and their international side.

I think you will find there are many people in many sports that openly ridicule it just as much.

Do RL fans "boycott" big games? Were they ever going to go? What interest do they have in it? What so they get out of it?

Too many people just think "well it's their team/country playing the sport they like. Why wouldn't they want to go?" You've got to be a pretty diehard fan to follow that line of thinking, and those that do struggle to comprehend why others don't think like them.

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the problem is theres little room in the season for internationals. The season is already to long and coaches and players dont want to play midweek matches which is the only window available. What needed is to get all groups together club owners fans players international officials and our tv and media partners and map out a season where we please as many as possible . Lets face if sky wanted it the rl and clubs would sort it as its sky money running the game now.I personally think our league season is too long we should be starting season in march not feb,myself I would start season in april and end at end of september but thats not likely as it only gives rl 26 week season.

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I think you will find there are many people in many sports that openly ridicule it just as much.

Do RL fans "boycott" big games? Were they ever going to go? What interest do they have in it? What so they get out of it?

Too many people just think "well it's their team/country playing the sport they like. Why wouldn't they want to go?" You've got to be a pretty diehard fan to follow that line of thinking, and those that do struggle to comprehend why others don't think like them.

No, the ratio of boycotters/non attendees is way higher in RL than other sports. The thinking seems to go like this: 'we're playing France, what's the point we'll win' then 'we're playing Australia, what's the point we'll lose?'

If we can get 70k+ on a good weekend at SL games, why do we usually struggle to get 10-20k for a game against Aus-NZ? Even allowing for the fact that of those 70k some will be casual fans we should be getting bigger crowds to the Internationals. Lets see how the WC goes because there can be no 'didn't know about it in time' excuses given here.

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So why do Wales and Ireland fans turn up against the All Blacks? Look at their record.

You can't compare RU to RL like that. For the majority of RU's history, certainly until the advent of honest professionalism, RU fans (and indeed their clubs) were conditioned into thinking that Internationals were the game's lifeblood and took priority over everything else. The annual club trips to internationals were the highlight of the year for many RU clubs, even today the RFU's ticketing distribution revolves heavily around the clubs - I don't know what its like now but a few years ago there was a 3 year waiting list for tickets at Workington RFC from their annual allocation.

That is a mindset they have developed over more than a century and its one we can't even hope to develop. Imagine a scenario in RL where the RFL says to our top clubs "we are going to play a series of international friendlies during the season for which we will be taking your top players away, while your league programme carries on" there'd be hell to pay. But it happens in RU with the Autumn international friendlies and they accept it because they are conditioned to it and recognise the financial implications of it.

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Why not do a secret poll between RU and RL fans (i.e. the entire Rugby spectrum) and ask what they would like to see in the perfect game of Rugby (to play or watch) - with the following topics:

-ideal points for a try

-ideal points for a penalty

-Ideal points for a drop goal

-whether scrums should be competitive or even exist

-whether lineouts are wothwhile in the modern era

-how the game should restart after a tackle

-ideal number of players

-ideal number of subs and interchanges

-winter or summer?

-whether a closer game of rugby is preferred at the expense of tries/open play

-retirement distance of defending players when ball is recycled

I'm guessing that the answers would show a split into roughly the same proportions of RU and RL fans that took part. What would it achieve?

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I won't disagree Derwent but when all is said and done, they still turn up expecting to lose. We just don't.

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but we've been playing internationals for over 100 years so why aren't we conditioned to it, too? well, there is the supporter demographic for a start, plus RL's profile in schools over that same 100 years or so.

there was a temporary blip with good attendances in the late 80s early 90s but overall, the story of RL internationals in the UK has been one of sad indifference.

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but we've been playing internationals for over 100 years so why aren't we conditioned to it, too? well, there is the supporter demographic for a start, plus RL's profile in schools over that same 100 years or so.

there was a temporary blip with good attendances in the late 80s early 90s but overall, the story of RL internationals in the UK has been one of sad indifference.

Its one of life's strange dichotomies, the comparison between RL and RU and how it operates.

The game which historically was associated with the middle/upper classes is run on a kind of socialist philosophy where fans/clubs make sacrifices in the best interests of all concerned in the game.

The game which historically was associated with the working classes and indeed founded on socialist/workers rights principles is run on a form of elitism and self-interest for those at the top, with very little in the way of collectivity.

Strange really.

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