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l'angelo mysterioso

RFL Leadership

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What do we need from the leaders of rugby league?

After years if taking part in forums, listening to reading views on the way the game is run

I get the impression that many people aren't interested in what rugby league needs in terms if leadership and decision making rather than what they personally want, what suits them, or fits exactly into their own ideas.

I think we need leaders who can plan for a future that means the game is bigger than it is now: standing still or contracting is not an option. They need to have the ability to make that plan work. There is a strong likelihood that decisions would be made within such a plan that wouldn't suit me: that's just fine.

I think we need leaders of stature who are held in high regard outside the sport...that isn't to say that other sports have such people: I don't think they do to be honest, but they can get away with it.

Of all major sports rugby league has been dealt with the weakest hand because of its history and because of the struggle between progressives and reactionaries: on the whole the progressives have come out on top: that's why we don't play a form off rugby union, that's why against strong opposition from the reactionaries the cup final went to wembley and there are many more examples. We need leaders who can play that hand, and who have the moral strength to fight off the forces if reaction.

I don't know whether rugby league has that leadership in place because like everybody else on here I don't really know what goes on, although richard Lewis was an excellent front man.

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Take the power away from the clubs. Get the governing body to rule with an iron fist.

 

Thats what will be happening if i scoop the £141m lottery jackpot on Friday anyway...

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For me, it's a chicken and egg situation.  You won't get many more credible leaders coming to the sport while the clubs hold most of the power but the clubs will never give up power fully to a RFL without credible leadership.  Then there's the international situation of no credible international governing body, structure or funding.


For what it's worth, I think the RFL do an outstanding job given the budget and difficult external factors they have to work with.  Judged solely result against result with other sports they seem to be poor but in pure bang for your buck we get massive amounts of value from them.  The problem is that there's not really any extra money that can be diverted to them to increase their effectiveness.

 

Then you have the Sport England funding, it must be a nervous time for the RFL seeing participation figures fall when they agreed with Sport England setting a participation target of 66,100 by 2017, that's a big jump that I just can't see happening/  The £11.7m of funding the RFL receive must be under serious threat given that participation target and also the tough plans that have to see some success from the other plans the RFL announced.


Who'd want a job leading rugby league in the UK?

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I think the game in England is coming close to a crossroads.

A professional leadership team needs to be in charge to steer the game in the right direction.

I worry that there are tell tale indicators that this is not the case, the game as a whole needs a strong product in England and France.

If the Clubs are healthy and the game is moving forward the flow on effect is good for everyone.

Time will tell.

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Strong leadership and transparency are what is required.

Leadership - The RFL management need to devise a medium to long-term strategy for the game and bloody well stick to it. They need to have the strength of character to say this is what we are going to do, this is how we are going to achieve it and if some clubs don't like it then tough. They need to lead rather than be led.

Transparency - Many problems in the past have been caused not by the actual actions but by the devious, cloak and dagger methods of implementing them. Take the whole Celtic Crusaders fiasco as an example, many people within the game were aware of things going on at Bridgend which the RFL supported and aided. The continued silence from the RFL when accusations were made just served to deepen the resentment in various quarters. They should have been open and honest and said yes we are helping CC to progress as we want them in SL, and thats a key strategic part of our longer term plan for the game. Some people may not have liked it but everyone would have known where they stood and there'd have been no room for wild accusations and in time it would have been accepted. Compare and contrast with the NRL's approach to Melbourne Storm where it was publicly known from Day 1 that they were going to get preferential treatment by the governing body. With CC what the RFL were trying to do was a worthy aim, but their management of the whole situation from inception through to final failure was appallingly bad.

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The game needs someone who can stand up to the reactionary voices. These constitute a relatively small part of the game but can be found right across the board in owners, fans, players and journalists, and they seem to get louder and more agitated with every passing week. Perhaps they can scent blood? Whatever it is, the progressives amongst us need someone to stand up and speak out. The longer this negativity goes on the more we risk looking like, and actually becoming, an outdated game that people remember from the dim and distant past.

 

For me, the only way the game can move forward is via the top tier. We need to create an elite competition, where results are in doubt and quality shines through. If we get that then we'll be much more attractive to sponsors and investors. We'll also stand a better chance against the Australians, which is vital if we are to capture the kudos and financial benefits that come with success on an international stage. Tied in with this is the need for France, and hopefully Wales, to kick on too. If we get this top tier right, then everything else will follow on as a consequence from the semi-pro game to the community game to the schools and juniors.

 

Our targets should be

1) a competitive top tier, where results are in doubt.

2) a national team capable of beating the best in the world.

 

If we can achieve those then we will increase our attractiveness to investors, sponsors, fans, players and broadcasters.

 

I seem to be saying this a lot but we only have the resources necessary to sustain a 12 team elite competition. So we should go with that. Once we get that in the right shape, and we've enlarged the pot, then we can expand to 13 clubs, 14 clubs, etc.

 

We don't have the resources of football, so we shouldn't be looking to emulate it. Nor should we be looking to re-create the sporting landscape of yesteryear. Having 24 village teams fighting for resources does nothing to further our sport, it merely retrenches it into the past. We should be looking to North America, Australia, and elsewhere, and taking note of what works there. Then we should be looking to adapt and utilise those methods in this country.

 

But I have little faith in it happening. The voices of regression are getting louder with every passing week and I've seen no sign of anyone with an alternative plan coming forward. I fear we're going to be shouted and threatened and bullied into taking a huge backwards step. And it's going to do our sport a huge amount of damage.

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Strong leadership and transparency are what is required.

Leadership - The RFL management need to devise a medium to long-term strategy for the game and bloody well stick to it. They need to have the strength of character to say this is what we are going to do, this is how we are going to achieve it and if some clubs don't like it then tough. They need to lead rather than be led.

Transparency - Many problems in the past have been caused not by the actual actions but by the devious, cloak and dagger methods of implementing them. Take the whole Celtic Crusaders fiasco as an example, many people within the game were aware of things going on at Bridgend which the RFL supported and aided. The continued silence from the RFL when accusations were made just served to deepen the resentment in various quarters. They should have been open and honest and said yes we are helping CC to progress as we want them in SL, and thats a key strategic part of our longer term plan for the game. Some people may not have liked it but everyone would have known where they stood and there'd have been no room for wild accusations and in time it would have been accepted. Compare and contrast with the NRL's approach to Melbourne Storm where it was publicly known from Day 1 that they were going to get preferential treatment by the governing body. With CC what the RFL were trying to do was a worthy aim, but their management of the whole situation from inception through to final failure was appallingly bad.

Very good post. We need someone who can set out a clear objective, a road map for how to get there, and then take us as close to it as possible. Unfortunately, we've got Nigel Wood who seems more interested in keeping enough clubs on side so that he can remain in his job. Hence his favoured 2x12/3x8 proposal.

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The game needs someone who can stand up to the reactionary voices. These constitute a relatively small part of the game but can be found right across the board in owners, fans, players and journalists, and they seem to get louder and more agitated with every passing week. Perhaps they can scent blood? Whatever it is, the progressives amongst us need someone to stand up and speak out. The longer this negativity goes on the more we risk looking like, and actually becoming, an outdated game that people remember from the dim and distant past.

 

For me, the only way the game can move forward is via the top tier. We need to create an elite competition, where results are in doubt and quality shines through. If we get that then we'll be much more attractive to sponsors and investors. We'll also stand a better chance against the Australians, which is vital if we are to capture the kudos and financial benefits that come with success on an international stage. Tied in with this is the need for France, and hopefully Wales, to kick on too. If we get this top tier right, then everything else will follow on as a consequence from the semi-pro game to the community game to the schools and juniors.

 

Our targets should be

1) a competitive top tier, where results are in doubt.

2) a national team capable of beating the best in the world.

 

If we can achieve those then we will increase our attractiveness to investors, sponsors, fans, players and broadcasters.

 

I seem to be saying this a lot but we only have the resources necessary to sustain a 12 team elite competition. So we should go with that. Once we get that in the right shape, and we've enlarged the pot, then we can expand to 13 clubs, 14 clubs, etc.

 

We don't have the resources of football, so we shouldn't be looking to emulate it. Nor should we be looking to re-create the sporting landscape of yesteryear. Having 24 village teams fighting for resources does nothing to further our sport, it merely retrenches it into the past. We should be looking to North America, Australia, and elsewhere, and taking note of what works there. Then we should be looking to adapt and utilise those methods in this country.

 

But I have little faith in it happening. The voices of regression are getting louder with every passing week and I've seen no sign of anyone with an alternative plan coming forward. I fear we're going to be shouted and threatened and bullied into taking a huge backwards step. And it's going to do our sport a huge amount of damage.

Some good points there.

Look at Australia where the comp was pretty well Sydney based in tribal suburbs. They realised it was not going to last and expanded and the ARL was making the move to bring in other areas and merge Clubs.

Unfortunately the Super League wars broke out in Australia (just as cable TV was moving in) and it set the game back by a few years.

 

I do not think the ESL can develop new teams and areas without some mergers of existing Clubs.

Many Clubs are based in  Towns that will never be able to provide a viable support or sponsorship system to make the Club sustainable, its that simple.

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Leadership - The RFL management need to devise a medium to long-term strategy for the game and bloody well stick to it. They need to have the strength of character to say this is what we are going to do, this is how we are going to achieve it and if some clubs don't like it then tough. They need to lead rather than be led.

 

Cracking paragraph. This is what we lack and have done for as long as I remember. Lewis was a good leader of the RFL but could also have done better. For me, Wood isn't the correct person for the job and, as N78 states, is very much looking to keep the top clubs on side, which to me is hindering the development of the rest of the game.

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As I saw it, Lewis came in at a point when the sport was on a real low, and the RFL was leaking money after the 2000 RWC. He was (for the few years of his tenure at least) made Executive Chairmen, i.e. combining the two top roles, which gave him a lot more power and hence the ability to force things through. He got the sport back on a even keel, but since then we have returned to the structure in place before him, in which the clubs hold most of the power, and the RFL board exists at their sufferance. It’s not Wood, or Barwick, or anybody else at the RFL who is the problem, it is the balance of power and the inability to cover the whole sport in one.

Basically what we need is a benevolent dictator.

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The Game needs leadership but it also needs troops and fans.

Its up to every Rugby league fan to attend a few games and perhaps encourage a friend to come along.

Unless the game is grown at grass roots it will not matter what the leadership does.

You need to build momentum from the bottom, I am not sure how you do this with some of the Clubs geographical location, population or financial base.

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Who'd want a job leading rugby league in the UK?

I don't understand who wouldn't. As the players union are rightly keen to point out, it's a brilliant product. It just has no direction, leadership or financial strategy.

The best thing IMHO would be for an Aussie or team of Aussies with a bit of history in NRL to take the reins. He/they would straighten it out in no time.

Too much mimicking soccerball, not enough mimicking NRL, basically.

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I don't understand who wouldn't. As the players union are rightly keen to point out, it's a brilliant product. It just has no direction, leadership or financial strategy.

The best thing IMHO would be for an Aussie or team of Aussies with a bit of history in NRL to take the reins. He/they would straighten it out in no time.

Too much mimicking soccerball, not enough mimicking NRL, basically.

Not enough mimicking NRL? So, we should turn the non-SL clubs into feeder teams and have no possibility of P&R. That'll go down well on here. ;)

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I don't understand who wouldn't. As the players union are rightly keen to point out, it's a brilliant product. It just has no direction, leadership or financial strategy.

The best thing IMHO would be for an Aussie or team of Aussies with a bit of history in NRL to take the reins. He/they would straighten it out in no time.

Too much mimicking soccerball, not enough mimicking NRL, basically.

Haven't the RFL been accused of mimicking the NRL too much before?

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Not enough mimicking NRL? So, we should turn the non-SL clubs into feeder teams and have no possibility of P&R. That'll go down well on here. ;)

But that's the point

If its right for the progress of the game, and I'm not necessarily saying it is then a quality leader would take such a decision and not be swayed by narrow vested interestsj

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It's one thing to want a league with no small town teams in it. It's another to find all these large towns and cities where League can co exist with soccer and so build up the required crowds.

 

League has been dealt a hand by history whereby even our largest teams are located in relatively small places, Wigan, St Helens. Perpignan, Warrington, Huddersfield.

 

Our mid level top tier teams are even smaller Wakefield, Castleford, Widnes, Salford.

 

The attempts to expand to the bigger cities, London and Sheffield have proven difficult.

 

Given these historical realities the game needs to cut it;s cloth to fit and plan of being a profitable, modern, relevant sport based on these smaller towns and cities.  Aiming to ape soccer with it's Manchesters, Chelseas, Arsenals and Newcastles is impossible.

 

Regressing to s very small league with just the profitable big city teams is not a panacea either. Leeds, Hull, Bradford, maybe Toulouse and then what. Not a good scenario.

 

The SL has been a great competiton and has raised crowds and standards across the board but is still comprised of many failing clubs.

 

The game must find a leader who can change that and also find a way to engage the lower tiers and get them into the party. A benevolent yet competent dictator is a must. but turkeys don't vote for Xmas so the  SL clubs will not cede their power to such an individual.

 

The game is almost at a crossroads and the road ahead is uncertain to say the least.

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The game is almost at a crossroads and the road ahead is uncertain to say the least.

I think it's worse than that. I'd equate the current situation in European rugby league with watching a loved one commit a slow and painful suicide.

I've just watched Stevo talk up the 2 weekend Sky fixtures on Sky Sports News in the most banal, cliched and unconvincing fashion and be patronised to high heaven (which he deserved, frankly) by the slick presenters. A casual RL fan mate of mine recently texted me to describe the Sky Super League coverage as "unwatchable" and I couldn't disagree. It's just very, very sad. The product is ostensibly good (but woefully imbalanced) and the presentation laughable.

But what do I care? I'll be watching NRL on Premier instead. It pains me to say it but I honestly think more RL fans should join me and vote with their remote control fingers. Maybe it's the only way we get the point across and end up with the league that we deserve.

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I think it's worse than that. I'd equate the current situation in European rugby league with watching a loved one commit a slow and painful suicide.

I've just watched Stevo talk up the 2 weekend Sky fixtures on Sky Sports News in the most banal, cliched and unconvincing fashion and be patronised to high heaven (which he deserved, frankly) by the slick presenters. A casual RL fan mate of mine recently texted me to describe the Sky Super League coverage as "unwatchable" and I couldn't disagree. It's just very, very sad. The product is ostensibly good (but woefully imbalanced) and the presentation laughable.

But what do I care? I'll be watching NRL on Premier instead. It pains me to say it but I honestly think more RL fans should join me and vote with their remote control fingers. Maybe it's the only way we get the point across and end up with the league that we deserve.

Or it could kill the game.Plus it isn't about watching it on tv,it's about going to a game,whether it be SL,Championship,NCL or any other game.

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Or it could kill the game.Plus it isn't about watching it on tv,it's about going to a game,whether it be SL,Championship,NCL or any other game.

TV audiences are vital. I'm from a heartland area (Hull) but live in Manchester so consume the vast amount of my RL through my telly. Of course it's good to go to games but it's more important to create games that are attractive to viewers of all kinds. Are we doing this? Not really.

It could kill the game? Elite Euro RL is dead to me anyway but I continue to engage in the debate and campaign for a modern league. I doubt that rugby league (or the appetite for it) could ever completely die and a modern league may well better grow from the ashes of a historic one than through evolution. I think this is what will happen - the game will run itself down and then re-emerge via some new TV/business interest. I live in hope, anyway.

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TV audiences are vital. I'm from a heartland area (Hull) but live in Manchester so consume the vast amount of my RL through my telly. Of course it's good to go to games but it's more important to create games that are attractive to viewers of all kinds. Are we doing this? Not really.

It could kill the game? Elite Euro RL is dead to me anyway but I continue to engage in the debate and campaign for a modern league. I doubt that rugby league (or the appetite for it) could ever completely die and a modern league may well better grow from the ashes of a historic one than through evolution. I think this is what will happen - the game will run itself down and then re-emerge via some new TV/business interest. I live in hope, anyway.

I disagree,most games are entertaining and in my view more so than the formulaic NRL games I have seen.Each to there own..By the way ,you've made it to RL Meltdown on twitter.Congratulations.

If you live in Manchester,why not watch salford or Swinton,both teams need all the support they can get.

Or are you happy complaining about the state of the game from your armchair.Clubs need money to improve facilities,set up youth structures  etc,etc,they can't do it unless they have people coming through the turnstiles.

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Why do we seek to ape the NRL all the time?

 

I take in 2 or 3 of their games per week, depending on when my day off is. By comparison to SL and in particular The KPC, I find the spectacle a little dull.  It's rather like Germany in the soccer world cup, techincally superb, but not very entertaining.

 

We have a great product of our own that is woefully undersold.

 

What I want from the game's leadership in the short to medium term is to fully realise the commercial value of the current set up.  Only then should we even think about venturing further into the UK and we will be able to do so from a position of strength.

 

I do not buy the argument that sponsors won't touch us because we're a northern sport.  Back when SL started, Bradford as an example had a major multi-national (Compaq) as a sponsor.  We were a northern sport then and nothing has changed except that we have got more and more insular and have adopted an "ooooh int it poor ooop north, we're lucky to get the scraps we do" mentality.

 

Well it's not poor up north and we get what we deserve because of a severe lack of commercial effort.

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This thread has similar context to that of the marketability thread started by Martyn Sadler.

Leadership should provide a platform to allow marketeers and operators to work within a well designed and stable plan. Unfortunately RL seems to lurch between one reality and another.

The first reality is a go get 'em strategy that takes the risk of casualties in the hope that enough people will see the momentum and want to join in to replace and improve. The charge of the light brigade effect.

The second is the inevitable strapping up of the wounded and the slow re building of the values that creates the bullish confidence that leads to 1.

Let's be fair though, unless you hit your extremes you don't know what the sport can take in a sustainable way.

If the question is then, what leadership do we need? Well you have to look at what's healthy in both extreme cases and focus on those things as your maketing plan and then allocate funds/opportunities to those elements that can maximise on them. If I was leading the sport I would be doing exactly this.

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I disagree,most games are entertaining and in my view more so than the formulaic NRL games I have seen.Each to there own..By the way ,you've made it to RL Meltdown on twitter.Congratulations.

If you live in Manchester,why not watch salford or Swinton,both teams need all the support they can get.

Or are you happy complaining about the state of the game from your armchair.Clubs need money to improve facilities,set up youth structures  etc,etc,they can't do it unless they have people coming through the turnstiles.

 

 

RL Meltdown is far from people melting down most of the time so he shouldn't worry himself. It has taken a good concept from RAWK meltdown of Liverpool fans going way over the top and applied it to RL posts, some of which are borderline negative. Here's a recent comment,

 

"Glad it wasn't just me, I thought it (origin) was a fairly poor game as well." Yeh some meltdown that one...

 

Deadshotkeen's post hardly construes a meltdown. They recently retweeted a tweet saying that they'll never see the attraction in RL, which is a poor man's version of Union so it is in all probability the sort of Union troll that hates RL but still visits RL sites. I'm surprised so many RL fans have latched on to it tbh.

 

Anyway to the original post, we do need clear leadership but often this can itself lead to bad stubborn decisions. It's a bit like the PM on the apprentice who ignores the market research because they are so single minded, I worry that is happening a bit at the moment with the 3 leagues of 8 idea. They certainly seem to favour it from what I've heard.

 

I think the think that irks me the most and I suspect many others is the complete flip-flopping of policies and the lack of any coherent plan. Licensing is what it is and it has its many critics and it looks to be on the way out. However, rather than a subtle changing of the plan we look to be heading towards the total opposite solution, a version of P & R Max. Then after 4/5 years we'll probably decide to go back to the glory days of licensing.

 

I do agree that transparency is so important. If the then RFL had been up front and honest about their intentions regarding London and the Crusaders at least there could be no allegations of corruption. They'd still have been slated but at least they would have been honest and perhaps would have been respected for it. I completely understood the desire for Celtic to be admitted to SL but it certainly felt underhand when they tried to justify it as if they had been included above others in a genuinely fair process and as if their being an expansion club had little to do with it.  

 

Edit: I rarely criticise leaders themselves but I doubt I'm alone in lacking a great deal of confidence in Nigel Wood. Very little about him fills me with hope that he is the right man for this time. (Does this questioning of an RFL official constitute a melt down? Have I just melted down?)

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