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Pen-Y-Bont Crusader

Is this the future for RL in S Wales ?

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Will south Wales be in championship 1 next season with no coach or signings announced yet? I hope they stay in neath decent setup there

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Would a move lock stock and barrel to Maesteg make sense for the Scorpions and WRL staff in S Wales ?

1. The Academy is based there

2. The school is very supportive and has excellent local contacts on the council (both town and borough)

3. Maesteg RFC is both more than big enough for both C1 and Championship level and has the requisite bar and function room facilities. Also there are a few ex Wales RL internationals/dragonhearts from the early 2000s at the RU club Karl Hocking, Grant Epton etc. Over 2000 attended an RL game there when Bridgend Blue Bulls were in their pomp.

4. The school has entered every year group in champion schools - a decent pool of players to come through in addition to the Academy players.

5. It's pretty central for all concerned to get there

6. The ONLY WRL Office in S Wales is based there and the school has plans to introduce work based learning courses that could be used to train employees for the club/WRL from September. Already Tesco have agreed to employ some (they are next to Maesteg RFC)

7. If we consolidate in this town and concentrate all our manpower and resources we can properly establish a bridgehead to develop properly and successfully. NWC are doing this in Wrexham...

As I said its all hypothetical but what are your thoughts ?

 

The biggie for me here is that the school would do promotional work, video work and community work as part of their curriculum. They may even do part of the match programme. Also, if offered at a decent price, they'd probably buy tickets to go as well and bring their parents. For me, it would rest on those factors. How much would the school help the club which wouldn't cost the club anything and how many tickets could they generate to create a decent atmosphere and get the cash into the club? The community aspect would then also be outstanding and the development work is already there.

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Honestly if it's a case of choosing between Maesteg and Neath, it's a much of a muchness.  Maesteg has a town population of 20,612, whilst Neath has a town population of 19,258.

 

Neath has a larger urban area to draw upon, but Maesteg is quite central to both Port Talbot and Bridgend which both have Rugby League communities.  Neath of course is closer to Swansea, whilst Maesteg is that little bit closer to Cardiff, overall you're arguably splitting hairs if it's a choice between the two towns on location value.  The fact the Academy and WRL offices are based in Maesteg in my opinion would give it a slight edge, but being realistic there is no reason why you couldn't base the team between the two if you really wanted to... there is only 10 miles between the two towns...

 

If however we all want to look for somewhere bigger to setup base, then it should be Swansea over Cardiff in my opinion.  Cardiff, unless we have the backers and money to shoot for Super League and make a big deal about it, will seriously be nothing more than a Cardiff Demons with a far bigger payroll...  Swansea is at least close to Neath (and Maesteg for that matter) to not completely lose that fan base, whilst being also close enough to the RL communities in Port Talbot, Bridgend, Swansea Bay, etc... and of course the University already has a team as well...

 

The size of Swansea also means it is still possible for a CC or CC1 team to grab a little of media if they are going well.

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In that situation, I'd suggest renaming the Scorpions to reflect a smaller catchment area which they could concentrate their efforts on with more focus and probably have more luck building a strong identity that resonates with people more closely.

 

I'm 99% sure that changing names will have no effect whatsoever on how popular the club is.

 

The size of Swansea also means it is still possible for a CC or CC1 team to grab a little of media if they are going well.

 

Without being pessimistic I very much doubt the Scorpions will get much media coverage in Swansea. Swansea City in the Premier League, the Ospreys in the Pro12, Cardiff now in the PL. It's hardly a city lacking top quality sport.

 

I think what we need to do here is ask ourselves what are we actually expecting from the Scorpions??

 

To me they are too small to do the whole shabang - get lots of kids playing the game, get lots of supporters across Wales, aid Welsh players with an aim to finding SL clubs, get into the Championship, provide a link between for amateur clubs across the region.

 

Now I'm not being naive, of course attendances and fans pay the wages. But I do see the number 1 aim of the Scorpions is to get Welsh lads playing and provide them with a stepping stone (hopefully) to Super League. I don't know what the clubs hierarchy think of that but honestly I see that as the main goal. Welsh lads in the SL means a stronger Welsh team which is likely to mean more money coming in and thus more money to pay for the domestic game. It's how the WRU operates with the regions.

 

SWS get crowds of around 250-350, and if they stay put that could grow to say 350-450, but who are we kidding moving to Maesteg (or most other places) I genuinely don't think is gonna increase those figures. There's never a good reason to gamble for the sake of gambling!

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Easier said than done, but progress for me is crowds and income rising year on year. Slow progress is better than no progress.

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I get the feeling that the Scorpions could be suffering from a similar problem as the 4 rugby union regions do - they're trying to be representative of too wide an area to be effective. South Wales is full of local rivalries and strong regional identities, and trying to lump them together and get them behind one banner is very difficult. There are people who won't go and watch the Newport Gwent Dragons because they've got Newport in the name, and others who won't go because they've got Gwent in their name. How can you win in that situation?

 

There's evidently a lot of people who used to watch the Crusaders in Bridgend who don't go and watch the Scorpions, and I suspect a lot of that is to do with the fact they're based in Neath now, and they consider them a Neath team. Travel may be an issue, perhaps, but not as much as will be made out.

 

Things are a bit different in the North, because we've not had the big names to polarise the rivalries and have always been looked down on by the Southies, so we're more willing to get behind our regional sides regardless of where they're based.

 

If the money was there, I'd say 3 or 4 semi-pro teams in South Wales wouldn't be out of the question. I'd definitely have one in Cardiff, because I think the game needs teams in every capital city, but after that I'd look at towns where lots of people who feel disenfranchised by the actions of the Welsh Rugby Union live - Pontypridd, Ebbw Vale and Pontypool, for example.

 

In that situation, I'd suggest renaming the Scorpions to reflect a smaller catchment area which they could concentrate their efforts on with more focus and probably have more luck building a strong identity that resonates with people more closely.

 

That's exactly what my welsh mate was saying only the other day.  The rivalries are similar to those in West Yorkshire and no one would ever consider that a "West Yorkshire" team would be a good idea (except DSK).  It could well be the reason why "South Wales" are struggling.

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There is definitely a strong South Wales identity, it just doesn't manifest it self in sport, bit like London in that respect.

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What you need is a Superleague side that doesn't run out of money. It put thousands of bums on seats and got people playing when it had the money. Beyond that it seems keeping a foothold is an achievement, but it still ends up with waiting for a messiah.....

Yes. It seemed a strange decision at the time to allow Crusaders to go under only two years before Wales was a host nation of the World Cup. I remember at the time being very disappointed as I am someone who loves international RL (when it is competitive).

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Letting that particular entity disappear was the best thing that could have happened.

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There is definitely a strong South Wales identity, it just doesn't manifest it self in sport, bit like London in that respect.

Chelsea, Palace, Arsenal, Spurs, QPR, West Ham, Orient, Fulham etc....

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Yes. It seemed a strange decision at the time to allow Crusaders to go under only two years before Wales was a host nation of the World Cup. I remember at the time being very disappointed as I am someone who loves international RL (when it is competitive).

They didn't "allow them to go under", the RFL simply couldn't prevent it.

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We can not afford to allow scorpions to go I really hope that the rfl are helping them out, the project has to be to have not just the scorps but 1 or 2 more South Wales sides. We have to continue the progression regarding participation levels juniors ect and Wat Wigan are doing with the scorps is brill and if that can be repeated with possible new clubs that would be great and would really give a clear pathway. I personally believe Wales should stick with Harris for deffo along with briers and if Wales could do something similar to England with the ets and regular meet ups throughout the season this would be a great step for the welsh.

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Stability throughout is what WRL needs from the international coaching side all the way down, because at the moment its too fragile especially in the face of the strongest and best resourced WRU side in years.

 

That stability starts in the consolidation of what exists at the moment, with organic growth- in S Wales at least because as we all know NWC are doing a great job and are pushing forward.

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I'm 99% sure that changing names will have no effect whatsoever on how popular the club is.

 

 

The name can have a massive effect, and the 4 RU regions are living proof of that.

 

As I mentioned, the Dragons have people who won't go because they've got Newport in the name, and others who won't go because they've got Gwent in the name. Furthermore, there are people who won't go if one or the other name is lost from the team.

 

Valleys folk won't come down to Cardiff to watch the Blues and cite the fact that they're called Cardiff as the reason (there are others, but that's another discussion), whilst the city folk won't go if Cardiff isn't in the name, because they're the capital city.

 

The Ospreys got rid of the 'Neath-Swansea' part of their name as quickly as they could, as they realised there was no way they could build a fanbase by relying on supporters of two long-time rivals, and essentially created a new brand and a new fanbase.

 

Even the Scarlets, who were always effectively a regional team anyway, have plenty of people who don't like the fact that they dropped 'Llanelli' from their name, despite the fact that they were a new entity that sat above the old Llanelli club.

 

Personally, my feeling is that they need to act like representatives of Neath, or at the widest Neath Port Talbot. Give them a smaller catchment area that they can actually hit in depth and the local area are more likely to get behind them.

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Funny how it doesn't matter anywhere as much with the football. All the valley types I know support either Cardiff city or Swansea city no problems

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The name can have a massive effect, and the 4 RU regions are living proof of that.

 

As I mentioned, the Dragons have people who won't go because they've got Newport in the name, and others who won't go because they've got Gwent in the name. Furthermore, there are people who won't go if one or the other name is lost from the team.

 

Valleys folk won't come down to Cardiff to watch the Blues and cite the fact that they're called Cardiff as the reason (there are others, but that's another discussion), whilst the city folk won't go if Cardiff isn't in the name, because they're the capital city.

 

The Ospreys got rid of the 'Neath-Swansea' part of their name as quickly as they could, as they realised there was no way they could build a fanbase by relying on supporters of two long-time rivals, and essentially created a new brand and a new fanbase.

 

Even the Scarlets, who were always effectively a regional team anyway, have plenty of people who don't like the fact that they dropped 'Llanelli' from their name, despite the fact that they were a new entity that sat above the old Llanelli club.

 

Personally, my feeling is that they need to act like representatives of Neath, or at the widest Neath Port Talbot. Give them a smaller catchment area that they can actually hit in depth and the local area are more likely to get behind them.

Neath is a no go. However, the catchment area around Maesteg makes sense at the level the club is at now and offers a way forward due to the Academy and links with the school.

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Neath is a no go. However, the catchment area around Maesteg makes sense at the level the club is at now and offers a way forward due to the Academy and links with the school.

That sounds sense.  If there is already interest based in Maesteg then regardless of town size or whatever, that's a good place to begin.  Surely going where the interest is, is better than trying to survive where the interest isn't?

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That sounds sense. If there is already interest based in Maesteg then regardless of town size or whatever, that's a good place to begin. Surely going where the interest is, is better than trying to survive where the interest isn't?

Why can't both happen? Would interest not grow with localish rivals, south wales storm.......

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Thanks Saintslass.

Maesteg is big enough and the interest is there, the Academy lads are thriving in a proper RL set up where they train every day and the effect on the school in general has been excellent with many of the younger kids seeing the players are positive role models, especially as they have been involved in coaching the year groups for Champion Schools festivals.

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The RFL would have to find a sizeable five figure sum to support them at C1 level, thereby reducing the funding for the other clubs, which apparently happened this year and naturally wasn't welcomed with open arms.

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FWIW. If the club had Maesteg in the name Maesteg Lions would be a better fit, Bateman, Ellis, Devereux and on the RU side Chico Hopkins have all played for or were born in the town.

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Thanks Saintslass.

Maesteg is big enough and the interest is there, the Academy lads are thriving in a proper RL set up where they train every day and the effect on the school in general has been excellent with many of the younger kids seeing the players are positive role models, especially as they have been involved in coaching the year groups for Champion Schools festivals.

RL is a community sport and thrives best in places where the community identifies with it and it is identified with a community.  If the Maesteg community through its school and other parts of the community are responding positively to rugby league then that is surely what counts. 

 

I was surprised when I first read about the Medway Dragons in Kent.  Granted, they are based in Gillingham, which is a bigger town than Maesteg based on this thread (approx 100,000 population but that may include outlying areas for all I know).  The Dragons now have a sizeable amateur rugby league club with multiple teams at all levels plus a wheelchair team and a handball team!  The point is that clearly there was interest for the sport in Gillingham, albeit on an amateur level, and as a club they have involvement with their local community which is recognisable and of a manageable size.  I think those factors are vital to establishing rugby league.

 

I'm sure you have heard of the Medway Dragons but just in case you haven't, here's a link to their website (I find it encouraging to think of them doing their thing in Kent of all places!): http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/medwaydragons/

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Pen-Y-Bont Crusader is right with what he says. With the Scorpians struggling financially and the RFL withdrawing their funding to WRL, the need for consolidation is paramount. Maestag might not be the dream future location but offers the best solution for the short-medium term to minimise the cost base and build a strong core to develop further. Attendances may well rise due to the reasons he states, but the most important thing is that it should put the club on a sustainable financial footing.

 

What some people with grand ideas of further semi-pro teams don't understand is things come down to finances which are extremely stretched in RL with Sport England's funding cut significantly and the RFL under tight funding constraints too. Rent at another ground would not be cheap and would in all likelihood be unsustainable for a small semi-pro club, unless they have a wealthy backer and we all know the dangers of that when they walk away.

 

After a period of consolidation, i'd like to see the prospect of a return to Bridgend for the Scorpians but that is some way off and they need to build to get to that. Any club at Cardiff would have to be a separate organic entity in my view.

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To give an idea of why Maesteg should be the place, I had a call this morning regarding the Academy.

The gentleman on the phone was mystified as to why his calls,email and even snail mail to WRL offices at Treforest hadn't been returned....that's because they don't exist anymore and the only office WRL have is the dedicated one at Maesteg.

In the absence of any other S Wales office space plus everything else based there its only sensible to base everything there. As C Cymru notes, with the assistance of the school, they could help market the games and I would confidently say that four figure attendances would be posted for a least some games.

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Having followed my team to both Bridgend and Neath, I can confirm that anywhere in the South of Wales is a pig to get to and a somewhat 'selective' day out, even for diehards. But if we want a national game, we all have to invest a bit in making it work. Maesteg? Merthyr? Cardiff? Makes no difference if you're coming from 'the heartlands'. So the WRL should do what works best for its own development on a day to day basis and the rest of us will find a way to make it work for us.

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