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#3305556 an Oxford lad's first superleague experience

Posted by iffleyox on 04 April 2016 - 08:22 PM

On the face of it, I probably shouldn't like rugby league. I'm southern, went to public school, and have been a union fan all my life.


But league was always there - occasionally on the TV when you went to turn on Grandstand and there was something on that wasn't "proper" rugby but seemed to have an attraction all of it's own.


I happened to be living in Oxford when Oxford RL started, went to the first match, and soon had a season ticket. So I decided it was time to go to a top flight match, aged 35. 


A friend and I went up north in search of this other rugby at the weekend - and found ourselves at Belle Vue... You know what? It was awesome. I know enough about RL to know that this is not a term which has been used in the same sentence as the words Wakefield and Trinity for a while, but it really was. 


We went to a pub in the city beforehand, the social club next to the ground after, then back to the first pub, and everyone fell over themselves to make us really welcome. We were pretty obviously not normal fans, but the number of people who bought us a pint for getting on a train from London at 0530 just to go to Wakefield started to get embarrassing (in a good way).


Anyway, I loved every single minute of it and am already plotting the next trip up there. I'm sure everyone remembers their first trip to a match (not counting the expansion clubs). I wonder how many do it at 35. The only downside is that I'm pretty sure I'm now stuck with being a Wakey fan. Good. Roll on the next visit.

#3320701 The future ain't what it used to be !

Posted by John Drake on 29 April 2016 - 09:32 AM

It's the year 2020 and the new RL Season is about to start. Coventry, Toulouse and Toronto are all in Super League. Hull KR, Wakefield and Widnes are firmly entrenched in the Championship.


Do I go and watch my team play these new upstarts ? But if I do, what about the atmosphere ? I can count them already; Coventry 43 fans, Toulouse 22 fans, and Toronto 37 (friends and family of the 8 English players in their team).


Do I miss that atmosphere with the 2,000-3,000 away fans from the three clubs now in the Championship ? You bet I do !


Furthermore Coventry away on a Friday night - I don't think I will get to that one ! Toulouse and Toronto away in February or March - no chance of the possibility of a nice sunny holiday around then then, and that's if I could afford the airfares to Toronto !


What we generally have in SL at the moment is a unique situation where I can get to most grounds within about an hours drive from my house, and of course, so can many other fans.


Why start throwing all this away by expanding outside the traditional heartlands ?


I want to see my team playing with a majority of local players, as this gives them and I local identity.


With expansionism we lose this uniqueness which makes RL so great.


We are at a cross-roads, which road do you really want to turn down ?


It depends what you're happy to settle for.


If you're happy with a sport with a small geographical footprint that makes it easy for you, but results in zero national press coverage, insignificant sponsorship deals, declining TV coverage and the best players leaving to earn higher salaries elsewhere, then fine, stick with what we've got.


But just imagine for a moment if the founders of the Northern Union and those who followed them had been as unambitious for this sport as you appear to be. We'd never have the Challenge Cup played at Wembley (too far), we'd never have any international games because the pioneers in places like Australia and France would have been starved of support or competition from the outset and, well, we probably wouldn't have a sport at all because y'know, breaking away from rugby union was a bit risky in the first place. 


Your post, for me, in a nutshell sums up why Rugby League is where it is.


Expansion doesn't have to be an either/or choice. We can have strong grassroots as well as taking our sport to new audiences.

#3135069 I discovered Rugby League at the age of 48

Posted by Somerset Casual on 04 June 2015 - 06:21 PM

First Post (deep breath) after several months lurking on the forum.


After 20+ years in the midlands and a further 20+ in the south west, I discovered Rugby League.

Actually, I knew it existed, but it never got my attention - football came first, followed by a bit of motor sport, tennis and even cricket.


However, my work mate kept going on and on about how great it was.  He is Somerset born and bred, but had northern relations so attended gamed from a young age. He has avidly followed the game since then, taking in a few games a season.


His persistence resulted in me agreeing to go to the 2009 Challenge Cup Final – but I thought I was safe - surely he will never get tickets ?   But he did – and what a bargain price they were.

So I resigned myself to watching a sport I knew nothing about; but at least it’s a day out in London, and a trip to Wembley.


So to the game itself  - and I was pleasantly surprised.  This is quite good, I thought.   Can we come back next year ?  Well we did, and each year since. And now I push him to get the tickets nice and early to make sure we get them. And we’ve introduced a third person – turns out he has relatives in some place called Cas.


Now I’ve got to be honest – Football remains my number one sport  (that’s lost a few readers, no doubt), but RL has leapt over my other sporting interests and I’ve gradually extended my viewing experience beyond that one game a season.  Now call me a glory hunter or RL tourist, but I do enjoy ‘an event’.  We went to some RLWC games in 2013, while in 2014 took in the CCF, GF and Magic.  In addition we do go to Broncos on a semi regular basis.  (London is easier for us than the north).


Last weekend I watched local side Somerset Vikings play Cheltenham in the West of England league. Thoroughly enjoyed it – what was lacking in quality was more than made up for in effort and enthusiasm.  And It’s good to have something to watch in sleep Somerset.


So that’s it. I apologise for not being a die hard, go every week, live in the heartlands supporter.

But I’m delighted to have eventually discovered the game, even in my casual mode.

#3253786 RL in Vichy France

Posted by Cliff Spracklen on 03 January 2016 - 10:33 AM

Is Cliff Spracklen on the forum these days?

Thanks for the question. John I recall you coming to the Stanningley clubhouse when Bramley were looking after Robert Fassolette, who was responsible for the initial research on Vichy and Rugby League. Robert had brought his French Wheelchair RL to the UK for the first time having effectively created the sport in his professional role as Education Advisor on Disability and Sport. We found teams for the French to play against, the first being the Cleckheaton Cardinals Wheelchair Basketball team under Malcolm Kielty, now honoured for his tremendous work in establishing Wheelchair RL (not to be confused with Wheelchair Rugby).

But to set the context Robert was taking on a new challenge having led the pressure group XIII Actif.  Robert was Chair of the Association which comprised several key figures in French RL from Lezignan, Villeneuve, X111 Catalan, St. Martin de Crau, Roanne and many more. I was the sole UK member, being then Chair of the RL Supporters Association.

We secured media coverage in the French national press.  I myself had a full page article in The Guardian, very unusual, on the whole subject. We lobbied the French Government and on a visit to the European Parliament with Robert we met Lurent Fabius, now French Prime Minister, who was a "sympathisant".  We met the then French Sports Minister Marie Georges Buffet, who promised action. This was at the same time as the French Union of Jewish Students was lobbying for investigation into the Vichy Government role in rounding up and transporting Jews, Communists, Gypsies and others to concentration camps and death.

We always stressed that there were more heinous crimes committed by Vichy than the banning of RL. Nevertheless it was part of the same mindset and process and needed to be put right.

Some further investigation by a Government academic was carried out confirming the discrimination against RL. i never saw the report. It was allegedly sent to the then Chair of the French RL Federation, Jean-Paul Ferre. He was the least popular President of alltime and was hostile to both Robert Fassolette and X111 Actif. I wrote to him asking why and received a most bizarre reply. He certainly did not want to rock the boat, accusing us of doing just that. But to my knowledge he did not circulate the report. Happily he stood down the following year and was replaced by a more enlightened Chair.

I suspect at the time, though I have no evidence, that French RL benefitted for a period with extra funding from Government, eg for the French Tour to Australia, and various development officer posts.

But since then French RL has enjoyed a better relationship and been regarded positively by French Governments, for example for in its social and development work in disadvantaged areas of greater Paris.

Indeed former Toulouse Chair, Carlos Zalduendo, now French RL Federation Chair was invited to accompany French President Francois Hollande to Australia. Ironically one of those making positive noises some years ago was French Sports Minister Bernard Laporte, previously French national RU coach.

As sport in France is perceived as something that Government should take a strong interest in, all sports receive government funding, via the various national, regional and local structures. This has been affected by more difficult general economic conditions in recent years, but is still crucial. Of course French RU now a major business, benefitting from megabucks from its commercial partners.

So I suppose it might be less worried about any reopening of the Vichy wounds. I took much satisfaction at penning an Early Day Motion for David Hinchcliffe MP, some years ago condemning the Vichy regime and its' collaborationist allies, the French RU, for banning French RL during the War.

I was even more delighted that it was presented before Parliament the very week that France was playing in the RU World Cup Final at Cardiff.

French fascists and Vichy embraced the Nazi philosophy of sport which opposed professionalism, so RL was caught up in that view, but the motives for French RU in its' collaborration was mercenary , in seeing an opportunity to get rid of a rival code, that was rapidly overtaking it in popular appeal.

What might happen now with the latest investigation is uncertain. But the treatment of RL, as suggested previously, would not be near the top of the list. However RL is in a much better place in France compared with the pre-X111 Actif era. The latest manifestation has been the announcement that Robert Fassolette must be delighted with, is that PE Teachers can now have a RL specialisation for working in schools. This was never allowed previously. You could specialise in any sport other than RL. So quite a breakthrough this year.

French RL still has many problems, not least the state of the Elite competition, and the uncertainty after all these years of whether France will finally have its' second SL club, promised in 1994, assuming Toulouse make it through the divisions. But it is at least not having to cope with a hostile Government.

Apologies for those who prefer one liners or short quips! But you did ask!

#3027577 Australia to never play outside Australia again?

Posted by jacksy on 05 November 2014 - 12:44 PM

Australia Rugby League have today suggested that they will never play outside of Australia again. The Australian side which could possibly miss out on this years Four Nations Final, which is currently scheduled to be played in Wellington on 15th November, made the startling announcement early this morning.

National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith explained further "We feel that rugby league at this level should be played using the best referees in the best stadia. Upon reviewing every single stadium used for rugby league throughout the world it was quickly apparent that the Australian ones are head and shoulders above the ones overseas. From the greenness of the grass to the quality of the hot dogs sold in the stands, our grounds are far superior. International rugby league should be about quality and fairness and we would be letting our players down if we made them play on the insufficient turfs they have abroad... (read more)

When asked about the announcement, New Zealand Director of Operations Scott Carter told us the following, "I haven't seen the statement yet but I wholeheartedly agree with it, completely."

At this stage it is unclear how this will affect this years Four Nations Final, which could still feature Australia, but early reports suggest that if the World Champions qualify it will relocate to Sydney.

In further rugby league news, Australia will wear a commemorative shirt for their decisive Four Nations clash with underdogs Samoa. The black and white hooped shirt which remembers the historic victory over England in the 2014 Four Nations tournament, will come with a brown "swag" bag and a black eye mask.

#3326472 Bears break the 1000 barrier.

Posted by Bearman on 08 May 2016 - 06:18 PM

The attendance at the Coventry Bears v Keighley today was 1097.
The scoreline flattered Keighley because it was only in the last few minutes that they pulled away. There was only 4 points in it until late in the game.
Speaking to the punters after the game the feedback was really positive and hopefully we can build on that.
The key is to carry on building slow but sure.

#3184140 Lizzie

Posted by Padge on 29 August 2015 - 09:42 PM

They say you have to be brave to go out on a rugby field, this is one of the bravest performances on a rugby field I have ever seen.


Brave, superb, well done.







#3259497 Update on my situation

Posted by Phil on 18 January 2016 - 09:11 PM

Well things look to be on the up for my family and me. My anxiety attacks have pretty much disappeared thanks in no small part to the support I've had from you guys on this board. I can honestly say I've had dozens of messages offering help, advice or just an opportunity to vent.

I won't name names, but it's quite humbling when you get messages from people you've disagreed with fundamentally over various issues but who are still concerned for your welfare.

My son is on the up again and looks more like his old self. He's sharing a house with another ex serviceman and he's doing ok.

I've joined a new band and we hope to be gigging towards the end of February.

I've also got to say my wife has been an absolute rock during this trying time.

Anyway thanks to everyone who helped/listened to my ranting it genuinely helped, but then we're Rugby League people that's what we're like.

#3242996 Burgess trials with nfl club

Posted by B rad on 04 December 2015 - 04:00 AM

Great. Another rugby league player decideds to waste his talent sitting on a sideline in another code, waiting for the possibility of getting a few seconds on the field so the media can tout him as an amazing success story and encourage more of our elite to follow his footsteps.


Getting so sick of this ######. Why is playing League not good enough for our elite players? Why do they feel they have to prove themselves in other sports? Our "good for you mate go get em over there" pat on the back mentality when ever they leave doesn't help. It seems so many Rugby League fans are always so happy when our best players go off to play another sport. What kind of fan are you if your excited to see our best players playing other sports? Not a very good one.


It all comes down to money and profile. The money situation is getting better in Australia at least (not sure about England?) we are starting attract bigger sponsorship deals. Profile wise we need to start talking our game up more. Start advertising ourselves as the toughest team sport in the world. Most likely it is, with the combination of endurance, impact and add multifaceted skills there is no reason we should be leaking our talent to other sports and not attracting any. If you want to challenge yourself as an athlete the NRL should be on top of the list. Not the other way around.


Its a shame. England are building to become a real threat internationally. They need their Tom Burgess's playing league at the moment. This era we are currently in could be a turning point for the game in England if they can keep their depth and talent. They almost have the players they need to break the hoodoo and start winning international tournaments and bring the profile of league up a few notches. What more of a challenge could you need as a player? It should be an exciting time for English Rugby League players. It should be something they are desperate to be apart of. The first English team to win something big internationally in many years. What a shame some of the players don't see it that way.

#3233175 Burgess leaves Bath

Posted by Martyn Sadler on 13 November 2015 - 01:00 PM

It was very interesting to be able to talk to Shaun Edwards at the Hall of Fame dinner last night.


Shaun, as a member of the Welsh coaching team, admitted that the substitution of Sam was the turning point in the game, mainly because Sam had bottled up the Welsh centre Jamie Roberts and completely neutralised him.


When Sam went off and George Ford came on it played into the Welsh hands, whose game plan had been to target Ford defensively if he came onto the field.


That is exactly how it worked out.


The decision to substitute Sam was probably the worst decision made in British sport in 2015.


The second worst was the decision not to play him from the start against Australia.

#2982120 Empty Seats On The Telly.....

Posted by John Drake on 24 August 2014 - 10:59 AM

There are lots of things that could be done differently, but essentially, the only people who can make a real difference to the empty seats problem at Wembley are those sat at home complaining about them every year.

If you don't normally go, start planning your trip to next year's final right now, and make the difference in reducing the numbers of empty seats yourself. There's loads of time to save up, loads of time to persuade others to join you, you'll get to pick where you want to sit and how much you want to pay (you'll get some good early bird deals as well) and you'll have a great day out at one of our sport's biggest and best showpiece events. Even getting there and back doesn't have to prove that big a deal if you plan it early enough.

I'm not lecturing people from the position of having a media freebie here either. I bought and paid for my own tickets (got £32 tix for £22 on one of the RFL offers several months ago), drove myself and friends down there early yesterday morning, sharing the £40 worth of petrol it cost between 3 of us, took sandwiches to save on food costs, parked up at Hillingdon tube station which cost £2 all day, 23 minute direct tube ride to Wembley Park and there you are. Gentle stroll down Wembley Way enjoying the sights and sounds of Cup Final day and bumping into a few old friends along the way, then into the stadium to watch the curtain raiser with a bucket of tea that cost £2.

There's even now a decent shopping mall right next door to the stadium, with lots of food outlets, even a cinema, for something to do after the game without trekking into Central London.

The Cup Final is what we as Rugby League fans make it. The game itself is almost incidental to that. Some years it will be great, others it might be a bit average, but you can have a great day out at the Cup Final regardless. The players provide the main event, but the fans can lift them to greater heights as well.

So basically what I'm saying is: don't waste energy complaining about empty seats at showpiece events like Wembley, or finding reasons not to go (there will always be reasons not to go if you look hard enough to find them regardless of anything the RFL may or may not do to market it) and don't wait to see which teams get there before deciding to go. Commit yourself to the project now, make sure at the very least your own bum is filling a seat next year, then we'll all have less to complain or fret about when the official attendance is announced.

And the more non-Club Wembley seats we fill between us, the more exciting and unmissable an event our Cup Final will start to appear to those who have, but currently choose not to use, their Club Wembley seats on RL Cup Final day.

#3333982 Paul March eat your words!

Posted by IM2 on 21 May 2016 - 05:53 PM

Pretty arrogant from March. Nice to see him eat his words.


Love it when a southern team does this against all the odds. 30-20 win very solid as well and an 18 - 0 first half even better.


Keighley Cougars Head Coach Paul March: “It’s going to be emotional once more, that is for sure, but the emotion will get easier every time we play there and the lads overcome the hurdle last time a month ago.

“It’s disappointing for me that we’re facing the Skolars on Saturday, as I feel we need a competitive game to really get the lads going ahead of the Cup final in Blackpool and we’re not getting that playing these southern sides.”

#3320776 The future ain't what it used to be !

Posted by GeordieSaint on 29 April 2016 - 11:15 AM

I just think some of em just don't get what the spirit of Rugby League is. To me they are the KFC, Pizza Hut and Mcdonalds  supporter   


Really? You are wrong; plenty of people (many on this forum) who want to see the sport grow and expand have invested blood, sweat and tears in the development of this sport across the UK and beyond. I think these individuals embody the spirit of the sport and everything it stands for.

#3249319 Kevin Sinfield

Posted by Kenilworth Tiger on 20 December 2015 - 09:59 PM

All this point scoring on this thread is pure and utter b~llocks


We've just had the most coverage for our grest sport I can ever remember in such a short period of time - Sinfield and the BBC portryed our sport exactly as it should be portrayed and we have people questioning voting patterns etc etc



Enjoy it and f*cking talk about it to everybody you see tomorrow - stop being d*cks

#3141398 I discovered Rugby League at the age of 48

Posted by Jimbo78 on 16 June 2015 - 04:30 AM

I discovered it 2 weeks ago at the age of 37 at the Magic weekend here in Newcastle! Me and 3 mates decided to buy tickets for the Saturday to support Widnes purely because they were playing in black and white stripes and for their marvellous gesture in raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson foundation (as did quite a few other locals). Rugby League really isn't very big up here and it's really either football or you don't like sport so we didn't really know what to expect. Let's just say we were totally blown away by how good it was and enjoyed it so much we ended up going back for the Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed that.

Next month we're going to travel down to the Widnes v Catalans match and hopefully this will become a regular thing. I'd already cancelled my NUFC season ticket of 24 years due to being totally disillusioned with the club and top level football in general to be honest and had a pretty big void there to try and fill. Looks like I might have just found it!

#3076333 21 Feb: WCS: Wigan Warriors v Brisbane Broncos KO 7.45pm (TV)

Posted by Exiled Wiganer on 22 February 2015 - 08:37 AM

To be honest my night was spoilt before kick off. I sat down and asked the man beside me what he'd paid for his ticket. Full price like me, so began to relax. Then I discovered that his A P R on his credit card was 4 % better than mine. I felt hollow inside.

#2840990 23/11/13 - World Cup Semi Final 1: England v New Zealand (Wembley)

Posted by Kenilworth Tiger on 23 November 2013 - 07:21 PM

I refuse to read this thread as I know it will be fill of the same old ###### that gets spouted every time......Sinfield is to blame, the Kiwis didn't care, Mcbana (lol) is useless etc etc etc

So all i will say is this....

Today I witnessed one of the best sporting spectacles I have ever seen in any sport, met some first time RL fans from all over the country and been involved with a team of volunteers who have given up time and money to support our game.

My overriding emotion, soon after complete and utter heartache, was sheer pride in our great game and squad of players who went toe to toe with the world champions.

No one player lost that game - as a team we never closed it out, simple as that.

I am proud England Rugby League supporter tonight

#3332710 Marwans tweet

Posted by Spidey on 19 May 2016 - 04:35 PM

Catalans hit back:

The Catalans Dragons club were really surprised by Marwan Koukash's attack against the club during yesterday's press conference, the Catalans Dragons Chairman Bernard Guasch has reacted by saying :

“Dear Marwan,

We were used to better manners from the chairmen and owners from other Super League clubs.

We are delighted of your recent arrival in our sport. As we did 10 years ago, you have brought a new impulse to the competition.

I am available to discuss with you about how we negotiate contracts with players and their agents and our ability to fill our stadium.

I invite you to spend few days in Perpignan to discuss this together, I’m sure a journey in the South of France will calm your anger.

The entire Catalans Dragons club wish you, all the clubs and their fans a very enjoyable weekend at the unique and amazing event that is the Magic Weekend. "

Good to see Catalans sticking up for themselves. Very good response

#3319617 Toronto (Merged threads)

Posted by Adelaide Tiger on 28 April 2016 - 02:12 AM

I wish Toronto Wolfpack and every club at whatever level all the best.

Some posters may be worried/scared/jealous because Toronto appear to be well backed, have a professional off field operation and therefore MAY reach SL in a shorter time frame than their club. Do these posters really want an opportunity like Toronto to be rejected just because Toronto havent the scars from years of poor management, gone into administration etc.

IMHO What it shows is that some businessmen see RL as a sport that they wish to be part of and are prepared to fund. They also understand the importance of professionally launching a club to raise awareness and that can be seen by the reports in various Canadian, UK and Australian newspapers.

As a Cas supporter I can see a time in the future where we may not be able to compete in a league with big city RL teams. If that comes about it will mean that RL has reached the lofty heights that It deserves and I want it to achieve.

And I hope I am not bitter towards the sport but acknowledge that all sports must progress.

#3311572 Sydney may soon have the world's best rugby league (and rugby union and f...

Posted by deluded pom? on 15 April 2016 - 05:49 AM

I can't imagine, by the description, that it will be better than either Wembley or Twickenham.

Twickenham is an awful stadium to view rugby. For a start all seats are facing the pitch.