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Non Cross Code
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  1. Lovely man and lovely family. So selfless. He’s a credit to his parents.
  2. I think cricket is (largely) doomed, certainly the five day version. Life is much more fast paced than previous. Everything is instant. And a game rooted in the slower, genteel Victorian era is incompatible with that. Those old fellas in the pavilion are from a different era. Baseball (a game as a kid I played as rounders) is also in trouble for the same reason. Slow paced, drawn out (though the version I played was very fast paced). The numbers are there as evidence, while there have also been books written on this subject. Cricket will have to evolve, which it’s trying to do with with 20-20, the bash, etc. That will very likely be it’s future. Not a cricket devotee by any means, but I do enjoy the Ashes (properly got hooked in 2005), so that may be the sole survivor of the long format. RL needn’t be in such trouble. At the minute it is and as I say it has correlated with the change in the way the game is played. A more attritional, defensive, grinding, wrestling Aussie style game. As well as society becoming more fast paced, putting slower sports in trouble, kids today are far less likely to accept being battered from pillar to post in sports. There’s a greater emphasis on health, safety and well-being. With RL (and RU) becoming more attritional, with an emphasis on players now bulking up to the heavens, spending hour upon hour in the gym and downing protein shakes as opposed to enjoying yourself with a ball, and with the greater focus on defensive strategies and stopping/stifling attacking play, it’s a much less attractive option/spectacle for kids. A Rangi Chase moment of eye catching skill sparked interest, went viral, but those moments are few and far between amongst today’s 80 minutes of play. Would Offiah/Hanley get the space to routinely make those eye catching runs today that sparked the interest of the like of a young Robinson? Absolutely no chance. “Moments of skill, amazing runs”, that should be written large on the chalk board of any RL committee that meets to discuss the future of RL. All those other changes (shot clock) are window dressing. It’s putting a bit of sticky plaster over a crack in the dam. The stupidity (and that’s what it is) of RL authorities not to see what is popular, and what is not, is mind boggling. Can’t just blame Robert Elstone (and he is hopeless), it’s all of them. RU is in the same boat. It hasn’t had a star in 15 years, again correlating with the change in how it’s played. Stars cannot be created because they can’t stand out like before. Without the stars (that Elstone and co. cluelessly taking about “needing to create”...while completely ignoring what creates them), there’s no-one for kids to want to emulate (like Robinson with Hanley), so less participation (44.9k in 2017, down 39% in 10 years), similarly small/less viewership, resulting in stagnation/fall. English RL could be more popular than ever by having Ellery Hanley type runs a common occurrence. As I said before, what works in Australia (biff, aggression, wrestling, scraps) does not work here, it’s a different culture. The result of the infiltration of the Aussie style in England has been very damaging. RL in England has a proud history when it comes to racial tolerance, so unless there’s been some hidden reversal of that (which I highly doubt) this subject is a red herring. It’s the fall in numbers across the board, with the decline in black participation being part of that.
  3. I think you are largely right on this. RL participation levels in England stood at 44,900 in 2017, that’s a 39% drop from 10 years ago. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2017/02/15/popular-sport-england/rugby-league/ Given that 3% of the population are black, a drop in playing numbers of nearly 40% means that the black figure will drop accordingly. Therefore I don’t think it’s a race issue with RL (if it was it would be reflected across society and other sports, it isn’t). It’s a decline in RL playing numbers across the board, and a decline in an already small black proportion makes their playing numbers minute. I touched on what has happened in the Rangi Chase thread. RL has changed as a game. It’s less open and attacking, less eye catching (the very style of Offiah and Hanley). The wrestle from Australia has ruined RL in England. English RL should be ignoring what Australia does, for what works in Australia (an aggressive biff loving nation) doesn’t work here. The open, attacking free running games Offiah and co. were involved in, those games don’t exit today. They would get shut down and stifled. The English game has been Australianized, and that turns off people in England who prefer skill, flair, attacking open play. While RL numbers have fallen 40%, football numbers continue to grow (over 2 million), so it isn’t a sports wide decline in participation, it’s a RL decline. Unfortunately RL is a very inward looking sport with the same voices, and no-one address the biggest issue which is the way the game is played. An Offiah run inspired the like of Robinson to play (and people like me (mainly a football viewer) to watch), he couldn’t do that today. The 2017 RLWC final, an 80 minute attritional arm wrestle consisting of Australia vs an Australian style England coached by W.Bennett, that inspires no-one. If that was a one off Aussie style team that would be ok, but it isn’t. The game in England is unrecognisable from what it was, and the result is the vast decline in playing numbers.
  4. Australia RL is a slog. Can you cherry pick good moments? Yeah you can, swamped by the wrestling in-between. Go watch 30 minutes of Wigan playing at Wembley in the early 90s, then watch 30 minutes of Australian RL today. I have. It’s two different sports. One is open and full and running, then there’s the latter. RL had big names here and that wasn’t just due to Grandstand. Games are still shown on the BBC today, but nobody stands out like they once did, because they aren’t allowed to (this also applies to RU btw, who have brought in RL coaches to tighten ups their defences, making it ultra attritional). Elstone and co. talk about needing to “create stars”. RL could do that if they were willing to do what it takes. They don’t. They just ignore the elephant in the room. “How can we have more of those Rangi Chase moments?” should be the main question being asked by RL authorities. Everything else (tinkering with rules, clock etc.) is window dressing. You allow more creativity, flair, and openness in the game, you will create stars, you will entice viewers, and you will entice new players wanting to emulate what they see. The potential stars exist right now, but they aren’t afforded the platform on the field. RL in England has roughly 44k players, total. Alarm bells should be ringing. They are not. “How can we make the game more appealing to play?” (another way of asking the Rangi Chase one). RL will never die here (despite the odd report that crops up every while), it’s entrenched in the communities along a stretch of the north, but oddly enough, Australian RL (often seen here as a beacon of hope for the sports survival) is doing massive damage to the game here. As I said, what works in Australia does not work here. Aussies love a scrap. Any fight between an Aussie and an Englishman in RL is very one sided 99 times of out 100. Similar happens in international rules between Ireland and Aus, the Aussies beat seven bells out of Irish players. There’s also an emphasis on bulking up, and using whatever to do so. Remember a RU Lions tour in 2001 Ronan O’Gara laid out on the ground with his back turned to an Aussie and getting an absolute pummelling. The Aussie (McRae?) just smiled. It’s a very aggressive culture, domestic violence is rampant in Australian society, with Aussie RL a part of that culture. English culture is much more refined, less in your face or confrontational. This translates to sporting taste where skill and flair is highly appreciated. Importing the wrestle from Aussie coach’s has been the worst change in RL here in the last 15 years. Making the game here more in line with the game in Australia will ensure numbers continue to dwindle.
  5. An immense talent, a maverick, that RL simply doesn’t capitalise enough on. He’s one of the few (in fact only) RL players that I can remember having their own segment on Sky Sports News after a performance where he re-enacted what he did. It was that that would inspire kids to pick up a rugby ball and want to emulate (and indeed watch). For me the smart strategy for any RL authority would be trying to make the game more open like this (like it used to be), with a greater emphasis on flair and creativity, and cut down on the wrestle/stifling tactics imported from Australia. Brits are more flair based followers, Aussies more the biff. What’s popular in Aus doesn’t translate here.
  6. The players (or at least their agents) will know what contracts they are entering into. They aren’t being duped. The top earners in RL are the exceptional talents, and that’s the case in all sports (and entertainment). It’s how it should be. In communist Russia talent wouldn’t be rewarded and they’d all get the same. If a player gets 14k a year, it’s generally because that’s all his talent generates (i say generally as I’m sure there are rare cases when a player is being ripped off). There can’t be any moaning. He either needs to get better, to earn more, or choose another profession where there is more money swirling around. They all have choice. I’ve seen other sports being brought up in this discussion as though one “deserves” more than another, but you can’t compare sports. Other sports that have more interest, generate more money, so players get more; other sports that have less interest, generate less money, so players get less. You can only focus on your own, what you generate. If 3 million people watch a game you play in, and 500k watch a game someone else plays in, the player in the latter cannot complain that you earn more. There is a greater demand for what you do, so you generate more money. Then there’s the issue of supply..a sport like football has millions of participants, and only a tiny number make it. So if you’ve beaten 10,000 others for a spot you’ve had to do more than a player who beat 500 others for a spot. If I REALLY applied myself I think I’d have had a real shot of being in my local Gaelic team, but with equal application I’d have had a lower shot of being in my local football team as the competition (supply) is much greater in the latter. GAA isn’t that lucrative, and as a result its stadiums are archaic...a throwback to the all terraced stadiums in England. Remember when we put in a bid to host one of the upcoming RUWC tournaments and thinking absolutely no chance. One or two venues fine, but no more.
  7. “Pay them what they deserve”. What do they “deserve” mate? If your club generates X amount of money, you get a percentage of that, you don’t get above it. A club spending above that is called debt. You kind of answered your own question with your last sentence. If you don’t generate more money, you don’t get more money. It’s that simple. Why does Tom Cruise get X amount of millions, while over 90% of actors get paid peanuts? Because one is a draw that generates millions (and he gets a percentage of that), the others generate little, and they get a percentage of that. In the field of entertainment you get what you earn. As for an argument I’ve seen before, “putting their bodies on the line”, firefighters put their lives on the line, so do soldiers, and they get paid less. No disrespect to those who do the physically demanding (often brutal) stuff on the field of play, but that’s not a unique attribute. It’s something most, young, able bodied people can do. It’s not an exceptional talent, nor does what they do go viral online/generate clicks, headlines etc. It’s admirable yes, but it’s run of the mill stuff. I know Gaelic players who can barely walk after their careers have ended, and they are on benefits. Just because you chose to put your body through a battering doesn’t mean you should be compensated for it.
  8. You are comparing two different things. Football is my main sport, and the reason it’s full of diving is because you can get rewarded for it (with the instant video assistant referee now in force this has declined thankfully). You can’t get rewarded for diving in rugby (both codes) so it’s not done. If it was they would. There are other forms of cheating in rugby which players use to garner an advantage, such as late hits to take out a player, wrestling/holding on to a player to prevent him from releasing the ball quickly (probably my biggest gripe about the game). The latter the officials do nothing about. There’s nothing worse than seeing a player make a line break, get tackled, then try to get up quickly to release the ball to catch out the disorganised defence, only to be held sufficiently for the defence to regroup. When rugby (both codes) was at its purest it was much more free flowing, far less cheating/spoiling.
  9. The little kick to set up one of the tries for Wighton was a beauty. On the crowds point, totally agree. Let’s say allow 10% of capacity. Having them spread out would work. Think the sporting bodies are going to have to push the government on this.
  10. Was reading a Wikipedia article on the history of Everton...that minor club from Liverpool..and came across a link to a basketball team they initially financed, the Everton Tigers (subsequently renamed Mersey Tigers). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mersey_Tigers Tigers...a team from Liverpool called Tigers. Is this a homage to Knowsley Safari Park? Mentioned previously you’d need a high threshold for embarrassment to embrace all this gimmicky stuff...seems few in Merseyside did with the team folding in 2013. They were in a league called the BBL, and here are the current teams: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Basketball_League#Teams Like most people I’d never heard of any of them. The names are ludicrous. Sheffield Sharks...what? Glasgow Rocks...hahaha. Surrey Scorchers....oh ffs. Cheerleaders in basketball I’m not against as it’s something to distract you from the basketball. What this basketball league (and the rugby codes) should do, if they are to persist with their gimmicks, at the very least make them some way relevant to the team/area in question. Liverpool Beats (short for Merseybeat)...tacky, but at least it has a smidgen of authenticity. Sheffield Steelers (in fairness) works in the ice hockey with the city being the home of the steel industry. Generic things like Giants (Manchester Giants), that’s a nonsense, as is Worcester Wolves.
  11. Obviously we don’t yet know if he’s guilty of anything or not. That will have to go through the courts to decide. On a broader point though, domestic abuse is a major issue in Aussie RL (not aware if that’s the same for other Aussie codes). https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/22/rugby-league-has-a-domestic-violence-problem-the-nrls-lip-service-wont-fix-it That’s from 5 years ago; don’t know if much has changed. Ben Barba was only last year. Remember reading an article on Russell Crowe and Oliver Reed (I assumed the two of them would have got on like a house on fire while filming Gladiator), but Crowe wasn’t impressed by Reed’s drunken antics or how he was around people. Rude I believe is what he called him. Any kind of crappy behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated by Crowe.
  12. “GO TEAM GO....RA RA RA” Code for: “WITH THE ABSENCE OF REAL PASSION IN THE CROWD, LETS MANUFACTURE AN ATMOSPHERE” The lack of genuine passion (among many spectators) is why fans of sports teams there are transient, have a passing interest, hence why a team can relocate without any bother. It’s not entrenched in the community like here (good book on this very subject that appeared on this site a year or two back). A supporter here is for life, there its for Christmas. When Wimbledon FC left for Milton Keynes, the whole U.K. was disgusted...”you’ve ripped the heart out of the club”, “how can you take the club away from its community”. There’s none of that there. A team just up sticks and leaves, and plops itself down into another area. If it doesn’t make enough money, it will then move again. These are “franchises” (cold, clinical concept)...the objective is to make money, and moving is not an obstacle. The owner (no not the players, or the coach) gets to pick up the trophy. Contrast that to this: “At a football club, there's a holy trinity – the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don't come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques.” - Bill Shankly, Liverpool FC Besides the lack any authenticity with cheerleaders etc. you’d need to have a very high threshold for embarrassment to embrace this. Aussie crowds are dead, so it’s no surprise they have adopted it. The rugger at Twickenham has cheering prompts (signs that go right around the stadium to tell the toffs to ‘make some noise’)..as it too is devoid of any atmosphere. Telegraph article says the biggest cheer on the day of an Eng vs NZ test was when Beckham appeared on the big screen.
  13. It’s tacky and plastic...ie. fake. It’s the equivalent of those ‘applause’ signs that appear in talk shows. It’s forced, manufactured. None of it is real. The fakeness is even more blatant with the ‘get on your feet’, or ‘make some noise’ signs that appear on signs around certain stadiums of certain sports. Cheerleaders, pom poms, giving teams silly nicknames (Widnes ‘Vikings’, Newcastle ‘Thunder’, Leeds ‘Rhinos’), a plethora of gimmicky fakeness. Stuff like this belongs in fake stuff like WWE. Of course all this fakeness comes from the home of fakeness. The worst aspect in a sporting context being teams relocating at the drop of a hat as they have zero connection to their community. Imagine saying to the people of Liverpool, “cheerio folks, we are leaving Anfield and relocating Liverpool FC 2000 miles away”....cue WWIII. Barcelona FC fans, we are renaming your club “Barcelona mavericks”, Real Madrid fans, your club will be known as “Real Madrid titans”. Cue rioting. Genuine passion, atmosphere and authentic identity beats fakeness every time. The Aussies are very Americanized in their sports, and that’s seeped into the rugby codes here. Super League is basically a junior partner of the NRL and adopts so much of what they do.
  14. I’m not surprised by this, and for me it’s best highlighted by the fact Coronation Street, a soap entrenched in the north of England, as parochial a TV show you can get, actually has an audience in Canada. I thought the furthest a show like that (a northern kitchen sink drama) could travel would be Ireland (where I am, as culturally the UK and Ireland are basically the same), so to find out it was watched in Canada was a bit of an eye opener when I first heard. Anne of Green Gables, parochial from a Canadian standpoint, was enormous here, so there must some shared cultural way of life. The protectionism of the game here is understandable. I didn’t know that much about Rugby League’s history until about five years ago, and then read an article by Jonathan Liew (think that’s how it’s spelt). He wrote about the doomsday attitude of many RL fans, a feeling as though the sport is endangered. I was shocked as I had no idea of the history and the fight it has faced for survival basically. Expansion is a constant theme...expand or die an often repeated phrase. But because so many expansion attempts haven’t worked there is a heightened sense of wariness of any new venture. There is also the fear of diluting the “heartlands” by having teams from outside. So it’s a constant battle of knowing what’s the best way forward. I’ve mainly followed the Premier League most of my life so all this protectionism stuff or constant worry about the game’s future is a completely new subject for me. I’ve never known a sport to focus so much on its survival, and what can be done to help it grow. Many RL followers talk about that as much (or even more) as their own teams results. When you read what the sport has gone through though you understand why.
  15. They obviously did, or at least that’s what they set the UK a deadline for, which they only abandoned in 2007 and allowed dual imperial-metric marking on goods to continue indefinitely. I’ve linked the BBC source on this. When did the 10 metre lines in rugby come in? Both codes have it I believe.
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