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

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The only thing RL can possibly take from the 6N is the example of Italy: expansion teams are a long term proposition, stick with them. That's it! It's such a blindingly obvious point that if the RL powers that be don't know it already

it what are they for? There is no point sticking pins in the map, even for strategically logical reasons, if the risks of failure are too high. The really important thing about expansion, demographic or geographic, is to play to your strengths.

In Italy union had certain strengths:

1. Fans with deep pockets (as ever).

2. Ethnic connections to Argentina

3. Rome, a nice city break for said fans with a few quid.

Apart from that I won't waste anymore of my diminishing years thinking about union. It's just so depressing in so many ways - not least that so many otherwise well adjusted people like it. If only those blazered buffoons in 1895 had shown a modicum of their self proclaimed sense of moral rectitude; you know, let their less well off players be compensated for lost earnings, professional "rugby" today would be near as damn it rugby league.

And there'd be a "heritage" XV version for amateurs. Probably. :D

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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.

Just playing devil's advocate here John but there have been games at Wembley for the England football team that have not sold out. Bearing in mind the combined attendances at EPL games then isn't that just as poor an effort as only 20% of RL fans turning up for an international match? Manchester United fans would be able to fill Wembley on their own wouldn't they?

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Just playing devil's advocate here John but there have been games at Wembley for the England football team that have not sold out. Bearing in mind the combined attendances at EPL games then isn't that just as poor an effort as only 20% of RL fans turning up for an international match? Manchester United fans would be able to fill Wembley on their own wouldn't they?

Fair point but generally all England games do sell out. And if England were to announce a game at (insert stadium except wembley) it would sell out in a flash. Even allowing for the respective popularity of the games, we simply don't have that mentality of 'must be there' for our big games.

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they do, of course.

England v Brazil match report by the way, attendance for that game was 87, 453 but Brazil are FIFA ranked 18th, behind Switzerland, Ecuador and Greece

The lowest crowd of 57,897 at the new Wembley came against Andorra in June 2009 , with the figure affected by a tube strike.

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The only thing RL can possibly take from the 6N is the example of Italy: expansion teams are a long term proposition, stick with them. That's it!

RU hasn't stuck with places though. Spain were the original members of the women's 6N, they've now gone. At the time that Italy were getting strong enough to seriously worry (if not regularly beat) the Five Nations RU was also at the same level in Romania with Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands also showing signs of life. Are there any serious plans on any level to expand the Six Nations to the Seven Nations? I sincerely doubt it.

In the southern hemisphere it's taken Argentina over a decade to get into a tournament at all. And in that time it seems (although I'm happy for someone to correct me) that international rugby has not particularly advanced for the Pacific nations nor any of the also-rans from south America like Uruguay. They all do have more regular matches though which is something RL must find a way to implement.

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Fair point but generally all England games do sell out. And if England were to announce a game at (insert stadium except wembley) it would sell out in a flash. Even allowing for the respective popularity of the games, we simply don't have that mentality of 'must be there' for our big games.

Then the argument is that given the total number of Football fans in England would twenty per cent of them turn out to see England play Norway (for example) if there was a stadium big enough to hold them? I doubt it very much. The other argument about using a stadium outside of Wembley isn't really relevant as all games, are and were before the rebuild, held in London. Obviously a smaller provincial ground would sell out if they had the chance to host an England game.

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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?'

Have you attempted to answer the questions you're asking?

What is the point? Some people have different reasons and these need addressing if they don't see a point. Some want close games, give them another reason to come.

Some want to win. Give them another reason.

Some want cheap tickets. Justify the price instead of reducing it.

Some think its cheap and lacking value. Offer them more for more money.

We can sit and blame the fans all we want, but it won't achieve a thing. If you're not giving then something they want, it's not their fault!

The ones that will always moan aren't fans at the end of the day. They were never going to come, so can't class them as "boycotting". If you can't attempt to cater for people's grievances,

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?

Do we struggle to get over 20k?

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.

We don't have a regular competitive international schedule. There is little structure. And they're always announced late (except the WC). This takes a lot if momentum away from anything.

If you're just going to say "well the fans should support it better" then you're NEVER going to go forward. Why should they? And why aren't they?

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Wells, its not a new phenomena though is it? International RL has generally always been poorly supported, I can't answer that in one post.

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Do we struggle to get over 20k?

Just to be clear, the last test series between Great Britain and New Zealand in 2007 attracted only 16,522 in Huddersfield, 20,324 in Hull, and 21,235 in Wigan. An average for the series of 19,360.

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People who say things like 'just stick with it' are looking at things far too simplistically. Rugby League does not have an abundance of money that they can invest in things that are costing a fortune.

I think Union does some things well, I like the Autumn International series, and I think this is one area that we could replicate. We sort of do it with the 4Nations, but even this can be a little random without a mass amount of strategic thinking and planning.

I'd look to get touring teams over here every year. A New Zealand touring team should be a massive draw, they aren't yet, but we should be looking to play them in a 2/3 Test Series with some exciting venues selected.

There is no reason why NZ couldn;t come over and play:

1. GF Winners (week after Grand Final)

2. Wales

3. England Knights

4. England

5. England

6. France

We need to move away from this mentality that the Aussies are the most important thing. Due to us being closer to the Kiwis (the current World Champions) the matches are usually great encounters and staged in the right manner they could do very well. I'd avoid Hudds, Wigan and Hull maybe and look to the likes of Eastlands and a London venue.

I'd also look to get Samoa/PNG/Tonga/Fiji or similar over each Autumn to challenge the other Home Nations, with the odd game against England possibly. I know these things cost, but development of the International game needs to be tried properly or not at all.

One other thing I'd look to do is make sure there are regular games against France - I know we play them regularly now, but nobody ever has any idea when the game will be played, or where. We should have England supporters clubs heading to Paris every Autumn (or in-season) for a Test match.

Union plays on the 'event' feel and social element, we need to stop sneering at that (plenty of comments about the car parks) and embrace it ourselves, as ultimately, people need to enjoy themselves otherwise they won't bother.

With all due respect, is heading over to Hull KR in November for a low-key game really getting the general public excited?

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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.

They arent one sided though. They are usually close, and both often come close to winning (a bit like GB with a sniff of the ashes)

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RU hasn't stuck with places though. Spain were the original members of the women's 6N, they've now gone. At the time that Italy were getting strong enough to seriously worry (if not regularly beat) the Five Nations RU was also at the same level in Romania with Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands also showing signs of life. Are there any serious plans on any level to expand the Six Nations to the Seven Nations? I sincerely doubt it.

In the southern hemisphere it's taken Argentina over a decade to get into a tournament at all. And in that time it seems (although I'm happy for someone to correct me) that international rugby has not particularly advanced for the Pacific nations nor any of the also-rans from south America like Uruguay. They all do have more regular matches though which is something RL must find a way to implement.

Hindsight is a spendid thing, which is why I pointed out Italy had certain things going for it, expansion-wise. Melanesia and Polynesia pose the same problems for union as they do for league; tiny countries scattered in the Pacific may churn out a disproportionate number of players for the domestic comps of Aus, NZ and Europe - in both codes - but will never pay for themselves as viable test teams that their players would prefer over a contract in the "big leagues".

Strikes me, as the strength of rugby league (such as it is) is the club game, especially in SL's territory, the game could do worse than beef up the WCC. Which is why I think an expanded WCC is a good idea but I'm dissappointed that Hetherington's concept is a little lame. It's at least encouraging that he at least seems to have got some traction with some of his counterparts in the NRL and it'd be great if over time the WCC evolved into a Champions League-style format with ties fitted in throughout a shortened domestic programme in both hemispheres.

Thanks for letting me know union es finito por Las Chicas del rugby de la Espana. Bien y ahora tengo mas felicidad (pienso lo que es como escribe, pero no hablo Espanyol!)

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They arent one sided though. They are usually close, and both often come close to winning (a bit like GB with a sniff of the ashes)

Right, sorry for bringing facts in again, but you can't keep going round making things up.

Looking from 1995:

Wales v All Blacks = 14 games, 0 Wales wins (0% record), ave score 38 v 13 to NZ

Ire v All Blacks = 15 games, 0 Ire wins (0% record), ave score 39 v 15

Eng/GB v Kangaroos = 26 games, 5 Eng/GB (19% record), ave score 29 v 14

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Right, sorry for bringing facts in again, but you can't keep going round making things up.

Looking from 1995:

Wales v All Blacks = 14 games, 0 Wales wins (0% record), ave score 38 v 13 to NZ

Ire v All Blacks = 15 games, 0 Ire wins (0% record), ave score 39 v 15

Eng/GB v Kangaroos = 26 games, 5 Eng/GB (19% record), ave score 29 v 14

This is a case of stats not telling the whole story though. I think when Ireland or Wales play there is a hope that they could finally break the record. Realistically things have got worse for us over those last 18 years. We haven't beaten Australia for what 7 years now and suffered a number of record defeats in that period.

Also, the Kangaroos were once our equals that we have gradually fallen behind to, this is of course different than a minnow challenging the best.

My theory is that we were mainly involved in competitive Ashes home and away before the ultimate shock of 1982. Ironically this shock ended up fuelling the greatest RL period for internationals, as fans turned up wanting to see the greatest RL side ever. This peaked when it looked like GB could beat them and we were involved in some genuinely competitive matches and test series towards the late 80's and early 90's. The killer for me was the fact that not only did we not achieve that elusive series win but we fell back behind and probably further than ever. This has been a bitter pill to swalloe and it completely took the wind out of the sails because now it appears that the status quo is going to be Australian dominance. Of course this has coincided with other sports achieving much greater prominance and Union especially getting their act together.

The problem for RL is that the Kangaroo tours are really the be all and end all of international RL. Aside from the Kiwis (which has oddly never really captured the imagination) there is nothing else to keep British fans interested. For Wales and Ireland they have a rich international programme in which they face teams that they beat and often win the 6 Nations for instance. When the Kiwis come to town it's a chance to see the ultimate and dream of beating them. If their only internationals of great worth were when the Kiwis came to town I suspect we would see a different picture and different attendances.

I've seen a change in internationals against Australia over the last decade even. I was at a classic against Australia at Wigan in 2003, when the atmosphere was rocking. I was also there a couple of years back when there was a collective sigh as Australia scored a couple of early tries, the experience couldn't have been more different. British RL fans have just got blase about losing to the Aussies and losing comfortably. It was the same when we played them in the 4-Nations final and were competitive for 50 odd minutes, the place was rocking again but as soon as they score a couple in quick succession, people just switch off because we've seen it a hundred times before and we know the comeback is not going to happen.

They might be brilliant but it's just no fun anymore getting our a*ses handed to us by a much better side.

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They might be brilliant but it's just no fun anymore getting our a*ses handed to us by a much better side.

Whilst you make some good points in your post, this last sentence is one that the Irish and Welsh could be using. They aren't using it as a reason to not support their national side.

They have absolutely no reason for thinking they may get a win - it never comes. Our last win may have been 6 Autumns ago, but it only means we have a losing streak of 6 tests (although I do agree that some of them have been shockers!).

During that same period we have done well against the Kiwis, but England fans even make excuses for the Kiwis when we beat them!

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Right, sorry for bringing facts in again, but you can't keep going round making things up.

Looking from 1995:

Wales v All Blacks = 14 games, 0 Wales wins (0% record), ave score 38 v 13 to NZ

Ire v All Blacks = 15 games, 0 Ire wins (0% record), ave score 39 v 15

Eng/GB v Kangaroos = 26 games, 5 Eng/GB (19% record), ave score 29 v 14

For instance, our average defeat is 27 points in the 5 games since we became England and the closest we have got is 16 points.

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Whilst you make some good points in your post, this last sentence is one that the Irish and Welsh could be using. They aren't using it as a reason to not support their national side.

They have absolutely no reason for thinking they may get a win - it never comes. Our last win may have been 6 Autumns ago, but it only means we have a losing streak of 6 tests (although I do agree that some of them have been shockers!).

During that same period we have done well against the Kiwis, but England fans even make excuses for the Kiwis when we beat them!

My point is that is all we really see in internationals that really matter and as I shown in the previous post the regularity of big defeats has increased. Wales have had a few close encounters with NZ in the last few series but they come in between successful series of yearly internationals that really mean something.

We should celebrate the Kiwi tests more but I suppose it feels like settling. As I said earlier we used to be equals with the Kangaroos, it's difficult to have to settle for 2nd best.

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People who say things like 'just stick with it' are looking at things far too simplistically. Rugby League does not have an abundance of money that they can invest in things that are costing a fortune.

Exactly. There needs to be a sensible strategy to growth, and if it is going to be expensive then we need to be honest and open about it. Recognise this so people don't think the powers that be are just chucking money in a pit hopelessly, and then highlight where the money is coming from to fund it.

I think Union does some things well, I like the Autumn International series, and I think this is one area that we could replicate. We sort of do it with the 4Nations, but even this can be a little random without a mass amount of strategic thinking and planning.

There's variety in the union international game which is again something that people like. Will they get to see the islanders every year? On top of that, they will ALWAYS have some big games every year at home. We don't in RL. Sometimes we get one friendly mid season and that's it. Where's the consistency? Where's the momentum? We see these poor and predictable friendlies thrown in with little notice and are expected to support it in big numbers. It just doesn't tick many people's boxes.

I'd look to get touring teams over here every year. A New Zealand touring team should be a massive draw, they aren't yet, but we should be looking to play them in a 2/3 Test Series with some exciting venues selected.

We should be looking at playing at least one big player (NZ/Aus) every year at home. We should also be playing our locals as well. We need to be building events with regularity. This isn't happening. People aren't going to fall in love with international RL if they don't get the chance to see it at it's best regularly, and at the moment they don't.

Would people come in big numbers to Headingley to watch Leeds play Leigh, Halifax, Sheffield, etc. with no home game against the big guns that year? I doubt it.

We need to move away from this mentality that the Aussies are the most important thing. Due to us being closer to the Kiwis (the current World Champions) the matches are usually great encounters and staged in the right manner they could do very well. I'd avoid Hudds, Wigan and Hull maybe and look to the likes of Eastlands and a London venue.

That's something again which I've mentioned in the past. The likes of Wigan, Hudds and Hull are hardly places that scream "special event". There's nothing special about going to a northern town in a stadium that you regularly see RL played in. The game at Wembley the other year was the best event feeling I've had at an international. The others that compare are COMS and Elland Road (as much of a dump as it is, it's a big ground in an unusual stadium).

I'd also look to get Samoa/PNG/Tonga/Fiji or similar over each Autumn to challenge the other Home Nations, with the odd game against England possibly. I know these things cost, but development of the International game needs to be tried properly or not at all.

Again, variety. I agree. Whilst they might not be much of a challenge to England, if love to watch Wales/France/etc have a stab at them on Sky.

Regular and varied events.

other thing I'd look to do is make sure there are regular games against France - I know we play them regularly now, but nobody ever has any idea when the game will be played, or where. We should have England supporters clubs heading to Paris every Autumn (or in-season) for a Test match.

I can't believe I keep repeating myself and yet it's not obvious to those that matter. It's regular. It's in an unusual place. It's scheduled EARLY and KNOWN ABOUT. Something people can look forward to every year.

England vs France at LSV in a mid season friendly announced last minute whilst there's a round of SL being played is hardly going to excite the public!

Union plays on the 'event' feel and social element, we need to stop sneering at that (plenty of comments about the car parks) and embrace it ourselves, as ultimately, people need to enjoy themselves otherwise they won't bother.

With all due respect, is heading over to Hull KR in November for a low-key game really getting the general public excited?

It's like instead of an event, they're trying to test fans loyalty. It's a lose-lose. Only the most loyal fans are going to travel to the other side of the country to go see a team play in a hastily arranged games against low-key unestablished opposition in a poor stadium in a fairly dull area (and I'll be the first to admit that it's not exactly exciting in sunny Hull!). At least give the fans a chance to want to come!

I can see a very similar situation happening for the Exiles game this year but at least they're getting a bit closer. Not clashing with SL weekend, and a better quality stadium.

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My point is that is all we really see in internationals that really matter and as I shown in the previous post the regularity of big defeats has increased. Wales have had a few close encounters with NZ in the last few series but they come in between successful series of yearly internationals that really mean something.

We should celebrate the Kiwi tests more but I suppose it feels like settling. As I said earlier we used to be equals with the Kangaroos, it's difficult to have to settle for 2nd best.

but who is settling for 2nd best? I'm certainly not. I'm supporting my team in the hope that they will win.

No other major sport has seen its fans abandon the England team as quickly as rl simply because the team isnt the best.

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but who is settling for 2nd best? I'm certainly not. I'm supporting my team in the hope that they will win.

No other major sport has seen its fans abandon the England team as quickly as rl simply because the team isnt the best.

As has been pointed out, you could class the 80's and early 90's as a blip, if anything they've just returned to earlier more natural levels.

As you've pointed out yourself, you can't compare Rugby League with other international sports. We're in a unique situation in the number of competitive sides that we have.

It's a sad situation but people just aren't that attracted to top level international RL. We'd agree on this but I see it as the result of circumstance and human nature rather than anything else.

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We can discuss everything under the sun but it all comes back to fans not supporting their team.

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We can discuss everything under the sun but it all comes back to fans not supporting their team.

Yes. Even the 'less attractive' games, say England v Wales at Leigh would be a lot more attractive if they sold out in a few days. How disheartening must it be for players to turn out before 4-5k? A full, noisy house puts a different face on it.

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Rugby League has a problem in that Internationals are not seen by most fans and club administrators, and arguably by too few players, as the pinnacle of the game. With attitudes like this, we've got no chance. That has to change.

We also need to sell our international tournaments, and especially the World Cup, as global sporting events worthy of interest from general sports fans/newcomers to the sport. There are plenty of people out there who do not know about the World Cup, but would attend matches if they were on their doorstep. For example, the other day I was chatting to a few contacts from the Bristol music scene and I mentioned that I'd been at a RLWC marketing meeting. All three said words along the lines of "the world cup is coming to Bristol…wow!' Now none are particularly big sports fans, and certainly not RL fans. All three said they'd be keen to attend the match, despite their general apathy towards watching live sports of any sort.

This is a tiny example and hardly representative, but it's international sport and 'big events' that sets the pulse racing. If you told the same people London were playing, say, Wigan in Bristol, there wouldn't be the same level of interest.

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As has been pointed out, you could class the 80's and early 90's as a blip, if anything they've just returned to earlier more natural levels.

As you've pointed out yourself, you can't compare Rugby League with other international sports. We're in a unique situation in the number of competitive sides that we have.

It's a sad situation but people just aren't that attracted to top level international RL. We'd agree on this but I see it as the result of circumstance and human nature rather than anything else.

Do you not think there are grounds for optimism with this England team in the RLWC? As always your forwards will hold their own and your 3/4s will not be out of their depth this time around. It's pretty clear they have the ability to run in 3 tries against Australia or NZ. Sam Burgess, Tomkins, Hall - that's 3 marquis players right there, so no real reason not to be excited about what will be some really good games this autumn.

In other words if you can't get yourself enfused about the prospect of the best rugby players on the planet playing at the highest level the game has to offer what's the point in being a rugby league fan?

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It's like turning a supertanker; it takes time to change people's minds. There are many fans who are passionate about Rugby League and will watch every single club game of the season, whether their team's playing or not, but just can't be bothered with Internationals.

I'm sure years of cobbled-together international fixtures haven't helped, but whether you like the current setup or not, it is more structured and planned now than it has been for years.

But it is still subject to the whims of organisations who do not appear to be accountable. Like last year, because the Australians were an ickle bit tired and said they wouldn't come out and play. Can you imagine Brazil or Italy telling FIFA they didn't feel like turning up for internationals? And if they did, can you imagine there being no punishment whatsoever? Of course not.

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