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The Daddy

Super League as an Anglo-French competition is the best way forward

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The standard of rugby on the pitch this season has been outstanding and unpredictable. There is no longer 1 or 2 teams dominating the league there are a number of teams competing at the top and whilst there isn't one outstanding team there is balance between the teams. The players on the pitch and coaching teams continue to serve up a great product....long may this continue.

Off the pitch though I really think the brand of Super League and its value is diminishing, the lack of major sponsors for the lead competitions, the Stobart fiasco, add to that recently the only London team in the league posting terrible attendances and getting everything wrong from a management perspective and to put icing on the cake they are now playing footy at a sub 2000 capacity RU ground, the London Broncos brand couldn't sink any lower. Add to that the Cas Wakey derby being abandoned due to lighting issues and goes from bad to worse.

The commercial development of the sport in the UK has hit a brick wall and a some changes to the sport at the top level does need to be made, the principal change which could be made would be to view the comp as an Anglo-French/European competition, at this moment in time I see no other way the sport can be developed in Europe, there are pockets of areas in the south of France which if managed correctly could support a pro team.

The best example I could give would be the southern hemisphere Rugby Union comp Super 15, each governing body involved is allocated a number of franchises, 5 each with each one responsible for sourcing sponsorship in their respective countries. At the advent of union professionalism all of the governing bodies were just about able to sustain professional teams, but this comp has allowed them to source multiple sponsorship deals and TV deals, remember the demographics of all three nations are small population wise.

Of course such an initiative would depend on how much French TV are willing to spend on such a product, it would all hinge on this. But a comp of this nature would work if the RFL and French rugby league work in tandem, allocated 4 french franchises and 6 franchises of the very best performing UK teams also factoring in whether they could sustain a higher salary cap.

You could perhaps look at this top tier as being the top tier Super League and the clubs not able to meet it's criteria falling into Super League 2? This may or may not be the best option but the sport at the top level needs to be revised and rebranded coz the current system isn't working, Super League is failing in it's current guise so why persist?

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How is the Cas game anything to do with the state of the sport. Some football matches had floodlight failure last season. Is football in crisis? Who are these ready made French clubs ready to step in?

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Not enough strength in French RL to support 4 teams,the recent debacle at Tolouse confirms this.

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Not enough strength in French RL to support 4 teams,the recent debacle at Tolouse confirms this.

Elaborate please...

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As old Terry said, there aren't enough teams in france to support this. Do we just take the whole, let us say, Wakefield organisation and drop it in strasbourg (and repeat two more times)?

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No, but there are enough catchment areas in France which have history and grass roots activity to support 4-6 teams. Before Catalan entered SL there was plenty of doubters saying there were no clubs capable of sustaining a pro team.

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If I understand correctly, all the amateur stuff in France is pretty tightly packed. Would having 4 clubs in the South of France solve our problems? Unless we have a good geographic spread I think it's the same situation regarding sponsors. I suppose there's twice as many small regional companies that might be interested

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France could build some fairly decent clubs in Toulouse, Avignon and Aquitaine (Villeneuve). But they'd need money and players.

The money would need to come from French TV. Unless they give us an offer, this won't happen. We need a Murdoch type initial investment, and they don't come by every day!

Players would have to be imported initially (whether from England, Aus, NZ or French union), as well as a sprinkling of French talent. The French talent won't be up to scratch from day one, but it didn't take Catalans long to produce their own. They're there. They just aren't getting developed in the right atmosphere with the right money at the moment. Imports are also quite difficult to get with the current NRL deal.

It's a huge ask, that would 100% rely on a TV deal and the right chairmen in France to get it off the ground. Until that happens, it's just a pipedream.

If they're there, it's be the greatest thing to happen to RL in this hemisphere since 1996.

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From my limited knowledge of french geography there are 4 teams straight away that have potential to maintain a pro team Catalan, Toulouse, Avignon & Aquitaine (Agen Lot-et-Garonne) all 4 areas have staged successful test matches with decent crowds and each area sits a large enough distance from the next so there would be no stepping on each others toes with regards to catchment area.

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But I thought the point is also to get big sponsors on board. Is the geographic spread enough for that?

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Well there are 4 regions there off the bat which are big and would add a few million to the support base of the league.

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Well there are 4 regions there off the bat which are big and would add a few million to the support base of the league.

Given the current economic climate,is there enough money to go round to support 4 new clubs playing at the elite level?

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Given the current economic climate,is there enough money to go round to support 4 new clubs playing at the elite level?

As Wellsy said it all comes down to a tv deal and how much if any french tv would pay.

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As Wellsy said it all comes down to a tv deal and how much if any french tv would pay.

And if they don't?

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Then the whole idea is ######ed

Exactly.Why do people think that teams can be magically be brought in to "improve" RL.

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I am not convinced that 3 teams close to each other in France would bring so much more corporate interest. What is that based on?

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Because its currently dying on its ######,with all due respect maybe if you are living in a RL area and see the Yorkshire Post/Hull DM/Bradford Telegraph and Argus etc you would think that all in the garden seems rosy when in reality it isnt.CM

Yet we get half a###ed ideas from doom mongers such as yourself,who do nothing but badmouth the game and try to make your points out as fact.

Yet no "facts" are ever produced to back up said drivel.

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Well if you want to continue living in your goldfish bowl thats up to you however i can clearly say that the SL brand is considered not worth a fig by the majority of potential sponsors out there either it re-invents itself or expect 4/5 of the top clubs to come groveling to the RFU for a merger of the codes in a few years time when sky pull the plug:( CM

Surely with all your "contacts" you can do something about it.Can't you?

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Why does adding a few French teams which are pretty close to each other and won't perform strongly for a couple of years suddenly have big sponsors queuing up to shell out the dough?

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Is the way the game is dying more or less serious than when we were told it was dying in the 80's, 90's, 00's - and i suspect long before that?

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We nearly had it though didn't we. What circa 1958 Hull FC and Halifax crossed the Channel after competing in the Championship Final I think. Played Carcassonne and Albi home & away. Only if.......

By the way Avignon to Perpignan is more than the distance between Liverpool and Hull.

Toulouse 2 hours on the train from Perpignan.

Agen like the others mentioned all on major rail & road routes with nearby airports.

RFL are obviously very interested with all the to and froing.

Not going to happen overnight though.

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If the RFL are thinking of bringing in another French team. They won't be brought in until 2015, but must be told now they so that they can get all the structures in place well in advance. With what happened at the Crusaders and what is happened last season the RFL must make sure any new super league team is built on solid foundations not sand.

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Why does adding a few French teams which are pretty close to each other and won't perform strongly for a couple of years suddenly have big sponsors queuing up to shell out the dough?

I don't know. All I know is SKY are the biggest benefactor by a mile.

If this was the avenue to go down then obviously it's let Toulouse in 2015 on their promises of riches and crowds, and hope they too can develop the players.

Hopefully two French Rivals can boost the game further in France. That would seem sensible.

I'd also hope that we'd have 13 of our current clubs viable enough to go with Toulouse to maintain a 14 club competition,

However if all that happens is Toulouse struggle, and I would fear that, then SLE would take it no further?

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Is the way the game is dying more or less serious than when we were told it was dying in the 80's, 90's, 00's - and i suspect long before that?

The problem could be that in those eras there were still ideas to be tried - full-time football, summer season, expansion, modern facilities, Wales, France. Despite some successes, the game is still faced with some fundamental problems - not the least being that the game is being forced back into its heartlands once again - and there aren't really any suggestions about how to get the game to where it needs to be. And we've lost probably the best strategic thinker the game has ever had with no real evidence that he's been replaced.

As a shop window for the game, as the elite competition that showcases the best in northern hemisphere rugby and brings in the revenue to sustain the professional game, Super League is past its best. Potential sponsors see this, newspaper and other sports media outlets can and I think it's fairly obvious that even some of the clubs are just going through the motions when it comes to maintaining standards. And the one thing that, above all, Super League was supposed to facilitate - expansion of the game at elite level - is now a busted flush.

With one exception: France. Along with the handful or so of northern English clubs that seem to be making a decent fist of Super League, Catalans seem to be the one big success of the Super League era. Those involved in the project to bring elite rugby to Perpignan - the people behind the bid, the associated clubs, the sponsors, backers and supporters, and the governing bodies - seemed to recognise what Super League was all about, and overcame the many obstacles that threatened their successful entry. If the model that has established the Dragons can be replicated elsewhere in the French heartlands, then something approaching the original idea of Super League can be resuscitated. As there is not a snowball's chance in hell of creating something like the Catalans in, say, any part of Great Britain in any of our lifetimes, then an elite league of the Anglo-French heartlands is probably the best way to boost the standing of Super League.

I'd go as far as to say it is the only way!

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