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  1. Exactly 5 minutes in.. My favourite answer, “Zidane”. The profile of RU has clearly nosedived in Aus, and with the club scene entering even bigger turmoil with the South African clubs (and their tv money) pulling out of Super Rugby and heading north, the future looks grim (club level anyway). The ARU have been propped up by foreign tv money to date...Sky Sports in the UK paying for coverage of the Wallabies for instance (I can see that source of income declining too as interest here has declined massively in them since the days when the bledisloe Cup was a big deal, now it’s a non event that Sky barely advertises). If the ARU had to rely solely on income generated in Australia they would be in massive trouble.
  2. To respond to my own question about Japanese interest in RU and the talked about possibility of NZ clubs looking towards the Japanese market to secure their future, just read that the Japanese club team the Sunwolves are being turfed out of Super Rugby. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2019/03/22/rugby/sunwolves-kicked-super-rugby-2020-season/#.XfRs_sqnyhA Looks like they are not financially viable. With the Perth team having pulled out that sees the competion drop to 14 teams, and that number will drop further when (as has been reported) South African teams pull out and head north. Aussie RU doesn’t have a pot to pee in, so it doesn’t look good at all for the club scene in NZ. Ultimately the main issue is the product is not appealing enough to pull in new followers, as the more attritional RU has become the less popular it is.
  3. They will simply have to, if they want to remain top dogs. It’s ok having the rule as it is now when all the best NZ players are playing in NZ, but that will change when the money from club rugby down there dries up. The worst thing club rugby did was water down the competition by bringing in teams from outside NZ/Aus/SA. In attempting to ‘spread the game’, they diluted the product, fewer people watched, losses piled up, and now SA clubs are pulling out, and with it SA TV money. The Six Nations has just about got away with having Italy in it, adding another makeweight (let’s say Georgia) would see it suffer as an attraction. The tri-nation’s of NZ, SA and Aus (when Aus were strong, and the Aussie public gave a damn about RU) was a great event, but the introduction of Argentina (and the demise of Aus) has seen it become a non event...Sky barely publicise it.
  4. According to this podcast featuring Tony Collins, the name rugby league is from Australia. England kept calling it northern union until the 1920s I believe https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9mZXJnb2FuZGZyZWFrLmxpYnN5bi5jb20vcnNz&episode=MWEzOTNhNDViZTQ3NGRjYjk0NWRkNjgyOTIyOTI4MTY&hl=en-GB&ved=2ahUKEwijid-NtrHmAhVLQkEAHQIeABoQjrkEegQIBxAG&ep=6&at=1576198805093
  5. RU will always be king in NZ due to the national team being their pride and joy, but there’s no question the sport is in trouble at club level. Super Rugby looks doomed with South African teams pulling out and looking towards the riches of England and France. Two clubs have already joined that Pro 14 league thingy. South Africa puts in a substantial amount of tv money..with that gone that just leaves Aus and NZ, and RU in Aus being on its knees that spells bad news for NZ clubs. With the gulf in finances The best NZ players will then look towards England and France to ply their trade, and fielding weaker teams without the best NZ players interest in the NZ clubs will decline. One solution for NZ (and Aussie) clubs that I’ve seen mentioned is to look toward Asia (specifically Japan), but how strong is the interest in RU there? Yes the recent RUWC was a success, but I think it was fleeting. Prior to the event there was hardly a word about it, all the talk in Japan was about next year’s Olympics. The club RU games in Japan get paltry crowds. If you look at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan, both countries came to a standstill during it, and today we are seeing the legacy of that tournament with Koreans and Japanese who were kids then now starting to play for top clubs (Son at Spurs being the most notable, and Minamino who will sign for Liverpool). I don’t see any such legacy or interest in rugby from Japan, so the club game in NZ is out on it’s own. This is where Rl club teams can capitalise. From the article though, this caught my eye; Polynesians in particular loved the clean and open confrontations that league offered as opposed to rugby's messier, wrestling-style nature. This is where I think RL is missing a trick. RL has introduced wrestling. It’s nowhere near as clean and open as it was, and is becoming attritional like RU (albeit not as far down the path). The RL games at Wembley that I watched on YouTube from the era of Schofield were far more attractive than today’s game, and I think if RL was able to get back to that open style of running, attacking rugby, not bogged down by wrestling and risk averse tactics (advocated by the ilk of Shaun Wane), the gulf between the two codes would be vast, and would see swathes of RU fans ditch that for RL.
  6. Your first paragraph is nonsense. Neither are valued internationally because to all intents and purposes neither are played outside their country of origin. A nation being able to cobble together a group of amateurs to make up a Gridiron team is of interest to no-one. Your second paragraph is true, and to a degree it ties into what I stated above. RL has some value internationally (unlike Gridiron, or Aussie rules) but it isn’t the pinnacle - certainly for most Aussies, hence the state of origin really took off in the early 80s, a contest that was sparked by the lack of a challenge for the Aussie national team. The hardest test for an Australian was playing against each other. Really, it still is. Until that changes they will value state of origin as the ultimate.
  7. Marie Fredriksson, Roxette singer https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-50730052 The Look was one of the first records we got.
  8. You have a point, and I did have that thought when I first heard what he said. However, I’ve heard various Aussie pundits talk about rugby league’s birthday being 1907. Even here, ‘100 years of the game’, is a ‘pioneers’ match ball. No mention of it’s origins in England as the rebel code. https://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/league_of_legends/100_years_of_the_game?result_6095_result_page=1#slideshow-gallery Fine them talking about the history of the sport in Australia, but there’s no mention of its origin or how it got to Australia. This myopic attitude is in contrast to Brazil and football for example...they have a phrase, “the English invented it, the Brazilians perfected it”. The Aussies give little or no acknowledgement to England in rugby league. Granted I knew next to nothing about rugby league in Australia (always just associated Aussie rules with Oz), but when I think rugby league my first thought is “former coal-mining towns of the north of England”, or “Wigan and St Helens”. The Aussies have obviously adopted the game but it’s a proud English working class rebel game that they are playing.
  9. To hear this from a presenter on an NRL show on Fox, is quite shocking. Nearly 2 minutes in.. That this is a main presenter on a RL show on a major network saying this (as opposed to just some random RL supporter making such a comment on a radio phone in) is pretty shocking. This myopic view must be accepted there otherwise he wouldn’t have said it. Is this really how they view the sport there?
  10. Did he not make a great pass for the winning try in the NRL Grand final?
  11. Not just southerners, in Ireland we tended to think of RU being big there, while Aussie rules is seen as the sport most closely identified with Oz. Having first watched RU around ‘91 with the RUWC I had only ever known RU as being a big deal in Oz. Remember during the 2013 RU Lions tour and it was really shocking how poorly attended the games were by Aussies (stands had a sea of red jerseys from the UK and Ireland). This was in stark contrast to the 2001 Lions tour there when green and gold was everywhere...many Lions fans were deliberately prevented from getting tickets for the final test. It was only during that 2013 tour that I was informed that the 2001 tour was a golden period for the popularity for RU in Oz, and that before the 90s it was nowhere, and since the mid 2000s it’s gone back to being nowhere. Basically their golden era was a blip, the norm has resumed. It’s bad for RU that RU in Oz is on its knees as the Aus vs NZ game was a highlight in the sports calendar, a game that was prominently advertised on Sky Sports whereas now they barely mention that it’s on. The decline in Aussie RU has allowed NZ to dominate far too easily. Regarding Portillo and RU, surely it’s due to him being a toff?
  12. I mentioned parochialism on another thread, but not about rugby league, about England in general. It’s why Scousers (in general) have no interest in St Helens, it’s outside of Liverpool, wool territory, and has no connection to them. This insularity is widespread throughout England where each location has its own mini culture. The footprint of rugby league hasn’t expanded outside that strip of towns along the M62 due to any particular insularity of rugby league fans, rather the insularity and parochialism of the public in general. What is Widnes to a Scouser? Wigan to a Manc? There’s no connection there. As a sport Rugby league has arguably done more than any other to look outside it’s own boundaries (taking club games to south London), setting up domestic teams in other continents. etc. I believe the best way to grow RL is by taking it outside England, away from the parochialism that is a barrier to growth here...certainly when it comes to the club game. Regarding the nicknames for sports, you’re overplaying their importance. They don’t carry much significance. The only issue I could see with TGG is that it’s vague, it doesn’t say anything specific about RL (not that it matters as I said though). It’s not something that would entice someone to RL nor put them off.
  13. While at University I lived in Liverpool, but Scousers would be to answer this better than me. The impression I got was anybody from outside of Liverpool had no connection to Liverpool. They were wools. The outskirts are included as being Scouse (Huyton for example) but anyone non Scouse might as well be from 200 miles away. Before I went to University I remember a school friend of mine (who had great knowledge of sports) saying St Helens was like Liverpool, Wigan like Manchester. Basically if you supported Liverpool (or Everton) you supported St Helens, and the same for Wigan and the Manchester football clubs. I assumed this was the case given the close proximity of both St Helens and Wigan to the two cities, but I soon learned differently. England isn’t like Australia, Sydney for example, where all those places outside Sydney are regarded as Sydney teams. When Aussies see how close St Helens is to Liverpool and Wigan to Manchester they assume, as did I, that both clubs could call on support from those cities, it isn’t the case. I learned very quickly how parochial England is, with Scousers (in general) only interested in Liverpool and nothing outside, same for Mancs and Manchester. This is a reason why rugby league in the north of England has been largely confined to those towns (and Leeds/Hull) along the M62 and hasn’t been able to expand beyond their own town borders. Nowhere on Earth can I find a place like England where the accents/dialects are so diverse, places separated by just 40 miles where the English language is spoken so differently. Johnny Vegas from St Helens, he talks nothing like Scousers, and St Helens and Liverpool are much closer than the 40 miles that separate Liverpool and Manchester. They all have their own mini cultures.
  14. That doesn’t make any sense. High school may be a Scottish concept, but it has still trickled into the rest of the UK (owing to the high prestige of the Scottish education system). John Lennon (I believe he’s older than you) went to Quarry Bank high school in Liverpool. Lol at your last sentence. Girls play netball though? (granted it’s not THAT much different to basketball). God your another one that had rounders in school. Why on earth we didn’t have it in the school curriculum is beyond me given it’s popularity outside of school. Up until about the age of 12 I’d say I played almost as much rounders as football. Lol. To be fair outside of the giant beanpoles who merely use their extra height and arm length there are some really gifted players. Have to say though in school the really tall ones that chose basketball in PE tended to be the least talented. Their size was a disadvantage in the outfield positions in football where a low centre of gravity is a huge asset...so they often ended up playing in the one position where their size was an asset, goalkeeper. RU is largely unwatchable now, and I say that as someone who grew up watching it (international games only of course). Said before though I think Rugby league could do with less attritional stuff too (contrast the way GB plays now, to the swashbuckling GB that aired on Grandstand). The Aussie style of low risk, five drives, wrestle, grind the opposition down, has seeped into the British game. What the Aussie public likes is very different to the public taste here. Aussies like a scrap, they came up with the biff. Garry Schofield is a British rugby league product..an entertaining, creative type, and the man he’s been skewering in the forty20 shows over his boring style of play, Bennett, is an Australian rugby league product, dour, low risk, grind down the opposition type. British rugby league needs to move away from the Aussie style and back to a British one of more open, expansive play. The 2017 rugby league World Cup final was an 80 minute arm wrestle not just between Australia and England, more specifically between two Aussie style teams. Not saying England would have won by playing a British style (who knows) but they certainly could have been a lot more expansive.
  15. Not my cup of tea either, but I’d say it probably is the second biggest sport in the world, certainly in terms of geographic spread (cricket and one billion Indians often gets brought up to counter the basketball claim, of course the % of Indians that actually play or watch cricket is only a fraction of the population...the 3/4 empty test venues give even less credence to such a claim). Basketball is widely played in UK and Ireland schools, although it’s more a recreational activity rather than one that is actually followed. Played quite a bit of it myself and like many people we had a basketball hoop outside, but I’ve never watched a full game. Appreciate how highly skilled the players are (globetrotters are amazing) but the gameplay doesn’t interest me...scoring is too formulaic and repetitive...’nearly seven foot guy puts ball into empty hoop, 20 seconds later, nearly seven foot guy puts ball into empty hoop’...back and forth this process happens for the whole game. With scoring being so straightforward and common it takes away the significance of a score (when your team scores you know in 20 seconds time the opposition in all likelihood is going to do the same) so there isn’t that ecstatic reaction (by viewers and players)....bar maybe right at the very end if it’s a game winning score. If a team wins by say 10 or 15 points then that’s an entire game without one ecstatic moment. For those that can overlook the scoring system in basketball, the skills exhibited are enormous, so its not hard to see why it’s an attraction for so many. It’s a game that allows individuals to shine...the players area afforded so much freedom to exhibit their talent on the ball, hence so many stars are created. With contact being so minimal, it’s in sharp contrast to the rugby codes, but the drawback to the rugby codes is players are shut down with both increasingly attritional due to the bulking up of players, tighter defensive strategies, introduction of wrestling, etc. So while basketball has its Magic Johnsons and Michael Jordans, the rugby codes has nobody today...the last star in RU was Lomu, the last RL star here was probably Offiah..and in both cases when the codes afforded individuals more space (freedom) to stand out and excel. I hear the likes of rugby league publisher Phil Caplan asking “how do we create stars in the game”...and then suggests things like “putting them on gameshows” etc...which is putting the cart before the horse. They will be on gameshows when the sport itself makes them stars, and they will become stars if and when the game returns to being more open and expansive allowing talent to stand out. Not only would Rugby (both codes) have more stars in a more open game (which would mean more jerseys of your favourite player bought, and more viewers who want to see them), but participation would also start rising again as a more open game is more enjoyable to play. In Ireland, the three main sports were football, Gaelic football and hurling. Basketball was also played, though it tended to be more a popular option for the tallest in the year group. Rugby Union, we had one PE session in five years (a RU player came in for a session). Only time I’ve ever held a rugby ball (bar maybe in a sports shop). In terms of participation and popularity, the most interesting subject for me has always been rounders (it was never on our school Curriculum like in England, but it is hugely popular outside of school). A game invented here (England to be precise), for children, and played by children here, yet somehow, having been exported to the US it became the national pastime there, and one played by adults. It also further pops a previous poster’s theory about “better” sports getting in there first as an explanation why they become popular...rounders was here first, and it’s popularity here never went beyond kids who it was invented for. It’s a game I loved as a kid and have only fantastic memories of playing it. Unfortunately some (usually from across the water) seem to take offence when this historical origin is brought up. They are the same folk that over a century ago shouted “no rounders” during the farce that was the Mills Commission into determining the origin of baseball, which led to the Doubleday Myth (the fake origin of baseball) until it was debunked 50 years by actual historians who stated it was rounders (itself originally named base-ball).
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