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Rugby league in London, what next?

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I cannot believe people think Rugby League is as big as Rugby Union outside of the heartlands, you only have to look at Sports England participation figures to see how many people are playing each sport. Nearly every RL team outside of the heartlands are propped up by RU players playing off season and Playing out of RU clubs

I don't know if you are referring to my post but I was not suggesting RL is as big as RU outside the heartlands. I am saying that compared to the situation at the launch of Fulham and also prior to the RU ban on all things league being dropped, the growth of RL throughout the country but especially in London has been huge and the breadth of the spread of RL countrywide is a thousand percent greater than it has been for most of the history of the game.

To go off topic the same thing can be said about the spread of international RL, not to the level of RU but they have had a hundred years head start. At one time not that long ago there were only four countries playing international RL. There has been an exponential increase in that area.

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That is an excellent post very well reasoned out and very well written.

 

When Les Catalans were losing weekly along with London we had the nightmare scenario of these clubs being replaced by a small club in the same place as two other SL clubs, and another small club on the doorstep of Europe's biggest name RL club.

 

Stunning observation on all those decent young players at MM in BOTH the London and Catalans teams playing some good stuff yet both the clubs possibly facing the serious damage at best, or the oblivion at worst of relegation.

 

We've already dispelled the silly myth that a relegation battle can revitalise the comp, and it will be the same again next year when we have the highly loaded middle eight so called "competition".

 

What would revitalise the game as indicated is if we had decent professional teams competing out of new areas finding new players and audiences, yet that is what is most likely to be thrown away. Come on Lenegan let's have your vision?

Describing London Broncos as a big club is frankly laughable. Leigh and Fev beat them on any measure you can mention. That's not to say I wish London ill, I'm a well known supporter of small underdogs.

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They think a lot of things.....

 

Clubs can grow and grow and grow without investment

Amateur RL clubs are springing up all over the country

There's  no limit to quality juniors players out there

A rich owner who can meet the salary cap means success 

Relegation is good for clubs because they can "rebuild"

Second tier promotion battles draw big crowds

It doesn't matter if the game is concentrated in the north

 

It's all wishful thinking, and fair enough no harm in dreaming, but if the game's policies were based on these fallacies then we'd be stuffed. The sad thing is the policies for me ARE based on these things......

Then there's the wonderful notion of SL not everything it's the only thing and contracting the whole only important divine right to greatness and all resources SL to 10 is the way to preserve and grow the game. There is way more potential for the game than that. Negativity and nihilism are not the answer.

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How have dispelled anything about relegation battles? We haven't had one since the start of licencing. I dare say we won't have a real one until we manage a season without anyone getting docked points

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More realism, more pragmatism.

 

Something about the sport made it appeal to people. I too liked it being "Northern" "Local" "Affordable" "Different" use whatever words you like to describe why northerners kept it alive for so long after Union fought back.

 

Maybe in the offices of the RFL, the Boardrooms of the clubs, and out on the terraces there is no stomach to lose these things as much as those who understand the dynamics warn that we can't stand still, we either go forwards or backwards.

The word I like is "better".

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How have dispelled anything about relegation battles? We haven't had one since the start of licencing. I dare say we won't have a real one until we manage a season without anyone getting docked points

 

We didn't have one that anyone took any notice of pre licensing, apart from odd end of season match, in the odd season. We aren't going to get one in future apart from selected odd games at the end of the season when teams play off. Even then there's no guarantee as the games will be professionals.v.semi professional mis-matches. We didn't get a single crowd of any note this season for games at the lower end of the table, the fans had no interest.

 

Only rich owners got their clubs up and stayed up, not P & R, it didn't work because of the financial gap and the financial gap has been retained for the "new" version.

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You don't have relegation battles until the end of the season. And as I said, this season is somewhat muted by the docking of points. It still takes away the sense of a fair fight. We might see some good crowds at Bradford towards the end of the season if there is a sense that the great escape is on. But who's to say? There is a lot of rugby until the benefit of relegation battles may or may not be seen.

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You don't have relegation battles until the end of the season.  We might see some good crowds at Bradford towards the end of the season if there is a sense that the great escape is on. But who's to say? There is a lot of rugby until the benefit of relegation battles may or may not be seen.

 

Well we almost agree.

 

What we have seen is crowds down by literally thousands a match at Bradford, Wakefield and London, the first problem is the loss of an audience clubs doing badly and heading for relegation suffer.

 

Then when we get to the "business end" we may not get any big relegation matches if the clubs are already sunk. History of SL relegation battles shows that.

 

If there is the odd crunch match (and again history of SL relegation battles show that only the odd game appeals) then indeed crowds can go up by two or three thousand. 

 

But that odd game or two attracting a few thousand extra speccies doesn't create the scenario KPMG painted that crowds will go up overall if you have relegation.

 

Once Bradford have gone ten home games with 2,000 less fans, they're never going to make that up even if the last three games are all crunch matches which they will not be.

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We didn't have one that anyone took any notice of pre licensing, apart from odd end of season match, in the odd season. We aren't going to get one in future apart from selected odd games at the end of the season when teams play off. Even then there's no guarantee as the games will be professionals.v.semi professional mis-matches. We didn't get a single crowd of any note this season for games at the lower end of the table, the fans had no interest.

 

Only rich owners got their clubs up and stayed up, not P & R, it didn't work because of the financial gap and the financial gap has been retained for the "new" version.

 

Going up and staying up via p and r probably requires a certain level if financing which may include a rich owner. Hull KR and Huddersfield are prime examples of this.

Some of the promotion games of the past drew large attendances, 12000 for Hull v (wait for it) New Hunslet is one. Fulham v Wigan, 10,000 is another, I rather fancy Fev v Leigh will push the 4,000 barrier and Fev v Wakefield more than that. Let's wait and see.

 

The large relegation attendances will only come at the back end of the season when relegation  will depend on the result of one game a la famous Cas v Trinity game. This season it does not look likely that this will happen and London are certainties for the drop and Bradford may be a lost cause also.

 

I do agree with you about the rigged nature of the 3 x 8 promotion league. It's a fix and needs replacing with one or two up and down p an d r asap.

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Well we almost agree.

 

What we have seen is crowds down by literally thousands a match at Bradford, Wakefield and London, the first problem is the loss of an audience clubs doing badly and heading for relegation suffer.

 

Then when we get to the "business end" we may not get any big relegation matches if the clubs are already sunk. History of SL relegation battles shows that.

 

If there is the odd crunch match (and again history of SL relegation battles show that only the odd game appeals) then indeed crowds can go up by two or three thousand. 

 

But that odd game or two attracting a few thousand extra speccies doesn't create the scenario KPMG painted that crowds will go up overall if you have relegation.

 

Once Bradford have gone ten home games with 2,000 less fans, they're never going to make that up even if the last three games are all crunch matches which they will not be.

 

Are you sure the poor crowds at London, Bradford and Wakefield are due to  relegation. If there was no relegation this season I think Broncos crowds would still be dire. The implode button has been pressed for a couple of seasons there.

 

The same could be said about Bradford.There has been a serious decline here for several seasons compounded by the two bankruptcies and decline in playing standards and thse lower crowds were a trend before the return of p and r was mooted and now they look doomed to relegation as well. If they had to play Wakefield at Odsal in a last game with all on the line, I would bet on a big attendance but it does not look a likely scenario at this point.

 

Wakefield have had the capacity of Belle Vue cut to 5,000. This is an obvious factor inn any reduced attendances there. this would have been the case even without relegation.

 

Once again you have your blinkered SL is everything hat on. Any loss of crowds at the bottom end of SL should be countered by bigger crowds at the top of the championship when promotion is at stake. I would think KPMG would have taken that into account in their report.

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I agree 100%. Broncos bring absolutely nothing to the party. Even Hemel with their new stand, new car park, school teams in the town and a long standing (30yrs) presence in the area have more to offer than the Broncos.

 

Crusaders with their slow build to success, incorporating amateur and schoolboy/girl developments and strong promotions within the Wrexham area are a better bet than the " Here we are, watch us in SL, oops we have no money, see you later top down Crusaders that preceded them. If the current Crusaders slowly progress, they will be  a suitable candidate, with a suitable base in the area for an investor to move them to the top than the linkless transplant that was the first edition.

Dropping back into this rather later but its interesting the Cru do seem to be building something sustainable and successful with real local appeal. Stags for their 30 years etc, in Hemel get less than 300 spectators. Whats working in Wexham?

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Stags for their 30 years etc, in Hemel get less than 300 spectators. Whats working in Wexham?

 

Minimal competition from Union or cricket

Local football team on the skids but still relatively well supported so there's both space for another sport and a critical mass of sporty people

Proximity to the M62 and players that can't get a game at the bigger clubs when they've grown up with League

relatively cheap area to live

 

Hemel:

closer to London

relatively expensive compared to the NW to live

union land - Sarries, Wasps, London clubs in general relatively easy to reach

 

but, Hemel are a great community club with buy-in from the locals and offering opportunities to play the game to local people of all ages. They've not exactly been standing still for 30 years, it's just that what they've built in the time is a good solid set-up that isn't championship or SL. They've been n Championship 1 for as long as they've been able to be and, with the best will in the world, even after 30 years Hemel is probably not the place to drop a SL club even if someone could find the money. I'm not sure Oxford or Gloucester are either though tbf.

 

Wrexham I think is just more fertile ground to operate at a higher level quicker. It's not really a fair comparison.

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Not had a chance to read everything here, so apologies if this has been suggested already, but here's my take:

A serious rebuilding phase needs to happen in London. The main thing is time. People need time to forget how awful the Broncos were in SL for so many years (not on the field, but the club in general). There's no point in trying to revive them at this level time and time again. Give people time to miss top level London RL.

In the meantime, keep growing the number of semi pro clubs. Then (if we do have a rep week) have regional rep games between London RL and Cumbria RL (as well as England vs whoever, Wales/France, Ireland/Scotland, Yorks A/Lancs A, North East/Midlands).

Give the chance for all of London to get behind a true London side once a year at least and let it build.

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Dropping back into this rather later but its interesting the Cru do seem to be building something sustainable and successful with real local appeal. Stags for their 30 years etc, in Hemel get less than 300 spectators. Whats working in Wrexham?

 

Nothing, they just moved the south Wales club up to M62 land where it's 45 minutes to west Lancs, found a few quid and bought up fringe players from Saints (4) Widnes (4) Wire (3) Salford (3) and Wigan (1).

 

They are 11th. out of 14 so it's not working, it's back to third tier as it stands.

 

It's great to have them regardless, but people bulling them up as supposedly proof of the great strides "expansion" clubs can make from the bottom up is really disingenuous. Shame the thread is slipping back to wishful thinking again.

 

Shades of how Doncaster (recently lauded as the new "powerhouse") made an early impact in 1951. 

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Nothing, they just moved the south Wales club up to M62 land where it's 45 minutes to west Lancs, found a few quid and bought up fringe players from Saints (4) Widnes (4) Wire (3) Salford (3) and Wigan (1).

 

They are 11th. out of 14 so it's not working, it's back to third tier as it stands.

 

It's great to have them regardless, but people bulling them up as supposedly proof of the great strides "expansion" clubs can make from the bottom up is really disingenuous. Shame the thread is slipping back to wishful thinking again.

 

Shades of how Doncaster (recently lauded as the new "powerhouse") made an early impact in 1951. 

Someone's justification of the Crusaders' debacle was that instead of one club, we now have two clubs (Scorpions and Crusaders). Now you argue that both clubs are failures and not worth bothering with.

 

A newly promoted club finishing 11th out of 14th is hardly a failure, it's par for the course. They are just unfortunate in their timing. Though the season isn't over yet.

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Dropping back into this rather later but its interesting the Cru do seem to be building something sustainable and successful with real local appeal. Stags for their 30 years etc, in Hemel get less than 300 spectators. Whats working in Wexham?

Wrexham is on the doorstep of the heartlands. They benefit from all the heartlands networking factors I mentioned earlier. Hemel have to build their own networks.

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Nothing, they just moved the south Wales club up to M62 land where it's 45 minutes to west Lancs, found a few quid and bought up fringe players from Saints (4) Widnes (4) Wire (3) Salford (3) and Wigan (1).

 

They are 11th. out of 14 so it's not working, it's back to third tier as it stands.

 

It's great to have them regardless, but people bulling them up as supposedly proof of the great strides "expansion" clubs can make from the bottom up is really disingenuous. Shame the thread is slipping back to wishful thinking again.

 

Shades of how Doncaster (recently lauded as the new "powerhouse") made an early impact in 1951. 

 

Doncaster are 4th in the Championship. They appear to have supplanted Batley as one of the better teams at the top end of the division. That is what was meant by power team. I don't think the term powerhouse was ever used.

 

Hunslet appear to have assumed that mantle in CC1 even if they are doing it with Leeds reserves.

 

Don't write off Crusaders yet, they recently won at Halifax.

 

Crusaders are NOT the club that moved up from South Wales. That club lasted two years as a top down super power and promptly died.

 

The current Crusaders have no affiliation with them. They have started at the bottom, found their own funding, started their own community links programmes, have lasted longer than the top down SL club and won two trophies to boot and are in the middle tier division. Their crowds are not too far below the level of the SL Broncos.

 

This is a tough year to avoid relegation in the Championship. Five teams are being relegated. That's around 35% of he division. That's one of the things that doomed p and r in the past, i.e. too many teams promoted and relegated.

 

Getting relegated this season except for the bottom two is just plain bad luck.

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Hemel are a great community club with buy-in from the locals and offering opportunities to play the game to local people of all ages. They've not exactly been standing still for 30 years, it's just that what they've built in the time is a good solid set-up that isn't championship or SL. They've been n Championship 1 for as long as they've been able to be and, with the best will in the world, even after 30 years Hemel is probably not the place to drop a SL club even if someone could find the money. I'm not sure Oxford or Gloucester are either though tbf.

 

Wrexham I think is just more fertile ground to operate at a higher level quicker. It's not really a fair comparison.

 

Hemel are a great little club and will have enough pressure paying a wage bill without people bulling them and even more tiny London clubs up for Championship One let alone CC or SL. Wrexham isn't more "fertile ground" than anywhere else, it's just close enough to the M62 to be able to feed off SL clubs for a higher level of playing talent, and be within reach of away fans

 

Fantasy RL with pins on maps as Red Rooster says.

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Hemel are a great little club and will have enough pressure paying a wage bill without people bulling them and even more tiny London clubs up for Championship One let alone CC or SL. Wrexham isn't more "fertile ground" than anywhere else, it's just close enough to the M62 to be able to feed off SL clubs for a higher level of playing talent, and be within reach of away fans

 

Fantasy RL with pins on maps as Red Rooster says.

 

From small acorns, mighty oaks eventually grow. If the pin is actually on the map rather than not there at all, that is progress. Where it might lead in any individual case is unknown.

 

Just because London is one of the biggest metropolises on earth doesn't make it a natural for RL by just sticking a pin in a map as we have found out after 30 plus years of the Broncos. You forget that they were the original pin on a map. They were thrown into SL at its infancy after being on 4 to 500 gates at Cheswick, were never ready and have now paid the price.

 

The debate about top down v bottom up will continue but the successes of top down are nil. The successes of bottom up are here but miniscule. The CC1 clubs are here, they exist. Broncos may not ( but I hope I am wrong) soon. Fantasy may be in the eye of the beholder.

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Been pondering my own relationship with RL as a southerner and fan of a London CC1 team with a core 400 fans (most very dedicated to the club and sport) and have decided to just enjoy what we have here: enthusiastic and loyal support, closeness to the club (can have a beer with the owner and players!) and most importantly a great game.

Who knows whether the club and sport will decline/stagnate/grow/take off in London, i hope it can grow but hey i will just keep enjoying whatever.....

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Been pondering my own relationship with RL as a southerner and fan of a London CC1 team with a core 400 fans (most very dedicated to the club and sport) and have decided to just enjoy what we have here: enthusiastic and loyal support, closeness to the club (can have a beer with the owner and players!) and most importantly a great game.

Who knows whether the club and sport will decline/stagnate/grow/take off in London, i hope it can grow but hey i will just keep enjoying whatever.....

That's the best approach to the game for any non-SL fan. Community rugby is supposed to be fun. Don't let the "expansionists" put it down.

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The debate about top down v bottom up will continue but the successes of top down are nil. The successes of bottom up are here but miniscule. The CC1 clubs are here, they exist. Broncos may not ( but I hope I am wrong) soon. Fantasy may be in the eye of the beholder.

 

 

Yea right, What about Catalans then ?
 
I'm sure that ice hockey would have been popular in Texas or California if only they had chosen a bottom up approach. Oh wait...
 
You may fancy a bottom up way of doing things, but you can't argue that's a better way for expansion. In a bottom up approach, heartland clubs have too much of an advantage (easier to find sponsorship, easier to attract fans, local and natural rivalries, larger and better player base to chose from, less money and time wasted in travel costs, etc.), that non heartland clubs have close to zero chance to make their way up.

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What's going to happen next, I don't know.  I'd assume that David Hughes will disappear completely before next season, but I don't think anything has been said for definite.  It would be a case of who is going to pick up the tab after that.  At this stage there doesn't appear to be large numbers of people declaring their hand but that doesn't mean there isn't someone waiting in the wings.

 

I would still say that a competitive London Broncos in the championship would still be worth fighting for.  Some people are very critical of the Broncos claiming their problems in recent seasons are an inevitable conclusion.  However, the reality is that for many of the Superleague years they have been a steady mid-table team in the top flight.  They also have had years where their crowds were way above what they are now.  So, it is possible to have a succesful top flight club in London, it's not fanciful it actually didi happen.

 

Even when the Broncos were doing relatively well a number of people went on about how many overseas players they had.  This is proffessional sport, I say a lot of happy people in North London recently when Arsenal won the FA cup with hardly any local players in their team.

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Yea right, What about Catalans then ?
 
I'm sure that ice hockey would have been popular in Texas or California if only they had chosen a bottom up approach. Oh wait...
 
You may fancy a bottom up way of doing things, but you can't argue that's a better way for expansion. In a bottom up approach, heartland clubs have too much of an advantage (easier to find sponsorship, easier to attract fans, local and natural rivalries, larger and better player base to chose from, less money and time wasted in travel costs, etc.), that non heartland clubs have close to zero chance to make their way up.

 

 

Your man loves the game as it was so you aren't going to get him off his "bottom" up nonsense.

 

All the clubs who have had any success in growing have been Superleague clubs who since 1996 have grown in Superleague and grown thanks to investment they got from SKY TV and their rich chairman.

 

The attendances for the top SL clubs have increased by a very large sum since 1996, that is valuable growth. The academies the top clubs run in conjunction with promoting the game in their locality have also seen a big growth in the production of fully professional quality players over 1996.Les Catalans have grown from a merger - a successful one - and have big attendances and produce good French players.

 

There's been no growth below superleague. Attendances have halved, and championship clubs have become "A" teams to SL clubs.

 

I'd set out all the figures, but the bottom up brigade have their own stock reply of "your using selective figures" to dismiss a truth they just don't like.

The bottom up brigade point to isolated things like Donny getting into 4th. place in the championship (then being smashed by Leigh the other day) or how Wales is succeeding "bottom up" when in fact they've moved next to the M62 to feed off M62 players like the Swintons and Rochdales do.

 

It's all harmless (and factless) banter, but in time those who count will realise the only future we have is organising a proper Superleague, because the one we have is shrinking down to 12 and next year down to 8. The tail wags the dog, the past drags the future back.

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Yea right, What about Catalans then ?

 

I'm sure that ice hockey would have been popular in Texas or California if only they had chosen a bottom up approach. Oh wait...

 

You may fancy a bottom up way of doing things, but you can't argue that's a better way for expansion. In a bottom up approach, heartland clubs have too much of an advantage (easier to find sponsorship, easier to attract fans, local and natural rivalries, larger and better player base to chose from, less money and time wasted in travel costs, etc.), that non heartland clubs have close to zero chance to make their way up.

You've answered your own question re the Catalans. They are a heartlands club, RL having been played in Perpignan since he 1930's.

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