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DC77

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  1. I wouldn’t have thought so, certainly not with your run of the mill league game. The reason being most who attend games have a vested interest in the result. Same as football. There are exceptions. For instance going to see a final as a neutral, or going to a game to watch an individual. The Challenge Cup final would apply (or at least it did when bus loads of fans from other clubs attended). And on going to watch a player that goes back to the need for a star attraction. I will use this example again to sum up the pull of such an individual I don’t think cricket has fans going there to see any individual, so that isn’t a factor here, and these are new teams so there isn’t the same vested interest that you get with fans of rugby league (or football) clubs. Cricket is able to generate a carnival type atmosphere which is quite unique. It’s very accessible to anyone. My dad has been watching these games and could barely name a team, but loves it.
  2. Bradford (as a place) does tend to get a battering from people. Is it the most deprived city in England? It does have the UK media museum which looks good https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Science_and_Media_Museum After sustained deprivation in the 1970s/80s Liverpool has made huge strides since then. Bradford doesn’t have the Beatles, Liverpool FC or a world class waterfront, but it can still learn some lessons in terms of development. Bradford Bulls is a big time name in RL (it is for me anyway). RL cannot afford to lose them.
  3. I know you were, but the Asian diaspora is culturally closely connected to the motherland. So what happens in the Indian subcontinent tends to be reflected here. In India the big international clubs (from England and elsewhere) have a significant following, and that translates to here. I’ve seen/heard British Asians (non scouse) at Anfield. I know this is replicated among the other major clubs. Just this weekend gone there was a close up of a young Sikh girl sitting on her father shoulders celebrating Salah scoring for Liverpool at Norwich. The parochial aspect of RL makes it harder for non natives (and indeed anyone not from there) to connect to. It’s very much rooted in the identity of its own region. It always makes me laugh in football when the commentator in a game featuring a major club who are losing away from home says “their fans will have a long journey back to X”....a significant chunk aren’t from X. A RL club (and a regional football club) that comment would apply.
  4. Think it was your comment here that I concurred with. Also agree with your first paragraph. Some groups are better built (for want of a better phrase) for certain sports. The Pacific Islanders tend to be bigger boned and love running into people, so a collision based game will suit them down to the ground. A more wirey frame would suit a sport like cricket (football too). East Asians tend to be smaller so basketball is a less likely pursuit. There was an article posted on here about Aussie parents worried about the increasing number of Pacific Islanders at youth level as they were enormous for their age group and the other kids couldn’t compete. Vid also posted on here of a mini Lomu smashing everyone to pieces.
  5. Asian we are obviously taking the Indian subcontinent here. It’s a strange one as there’s a significant fanbase in India (Messi and Ronaldo would get mobbed there, as Maradona did when 100k packed into a stadium for an appearance he made after opening an academy). I think they are more into watching than playing, while for the religion that is cricket it’s both. You do see quite a lot of Sikhs and Hindus at Anfield and Old Trafford. A previous poster suggested it’s easier for Asians to follow a big international club, and there may be a lot of truth to that. For instance, Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs etc. are international in outlook, which is easy for non locals to connect to. A more regional club (let’s say Norwich City, or a RL club), they have that parochial, local shop feel to them, so its harder for outsiders to feel part of. If you see someone wearing a Man U/Liverpool jersey in Sydney you wouldn’t think “they must be a Manc/Scouser”...but someone in a Norwich jersey (or Hull Kingston Rovers) you would be inclined to think they are from there.
  6. Ah remember hearing about the new team captains (Sam Quek the other I think). God that’s a tired programme. I think it can help exposure for a sport if the person is still directly involved in it (playing or presenting/punditry), but if they are no longer involved I’d say the impact would be minimal. Think that’s why Caplan was getting at wanting current RL players to appear on shows like this.
  7. Ugo Monye? I just googled the name you put just to be sure. Unless he’s famous for something else (think Dion Dublin presenting Homes under the Hammer) he certainly didn’t become widely known for playing RU. He was a run of the mill player. In complete contrast to Offiah who was a bona fide star. There ain’t many who are also known by their moniker. Phil Caplan has previously mentioned RL players needing to do more of this kind of stuff. I’m not too sure if it would really affect things much for the sport though as it’s the on field stuff that really drives interest, makes people play the game/buy jerseys etc. Rather than appearing on reality shows etc. doing punditry would be more effective to draw viewers, especially if they are allowed to let rip and say their piece.
  8. Pity Offiah isn’t more involved in the media as he has an aura about him. Also when you’ve done it on the field (as he has) you get more respect off it as people listen to you more having walked the walk. Roy Keane hammering someone (“lazy”, “no effort”, “no hunger/desire”) is acceptable as he put in 100% in every game. Even Alan Shearer as dull and boring as he is, he did it on the field so his view carries more weight than most.
  9. The ultimate for any aspiring RL player in England must be to play in Australia, likewise the ultimate for any Aussie footballer must be to play in England. The Aussie players that do play in the Premier League tend to come over very early (Harry Kewell joined the Leeds youth system). The earlier you get them the better. If there ever comes a time SL is more lucrative than the NRL the Aussie RL players would come flooding over here as the earning potential in Aus is quite limited. Geographically England is in a great central location (1 hour behind Central European time, 5 hours ahead of US eastern time, so a game that kicks off at anything from 4pm to 8pm is accessible to both markets (plus Africa directly below)...then there’s the Middle East/Asia market, so a 1pm kick off (a time Liverpool seem to get, this Saturday the next one) is prime time viewing there. Aus is extremely inaccessible as games there are predominantly very early morning here/Europe, middle of the night North America. England also has a cachet/prestige (as well as an anglocentric world) that results in the Premier League being the most watched league in the world, despite the like of Spain (and Italy before it) having had most of the major stars.
  10. “only for pragmatic reasons of geography do the French pay much heed to England”...eh? Without SL (and the Championship) there wouldn’t be a French professional RL team. They rely on England for their very existence at pro level, and given that their pro clubs play in an English competition it would be more than highly abnormal if they paid more heed to a competition they are not involved in.
  11. Who are those? Concur with your previous sentiment. He wasn’t a star though, a star in the sense of someone who grabs media attention and makes the general public sit up and take notice. Sam Tomkins spoke about being able to take the tube in London and be completely anonymous (he was also filmed doing so). I think he could walk around any city in the north of England bar Leeds and Hull and none would bat an eyelid. Not that it’s a requirement to excel in the NRL in order to be taken notice of in the UK, but the fact he didn’t stand out there would go a long way to explain why he didn’t do so among the public when he played here. The RL player in England that I can think of who came closest to being that player in recent times was Rob Burrow. The try he scored in the Grand Final was as good as anything you will see in sport. It was a Hanley/Offiah/Robinson type score, but probably even more impressive given his stature. He certainly had the talent, but I think what maybe stopped him being a big name was his size in that he wasn’t able to dominate being up against pretty much everyone being bigger than him. He had an underdog label about him. The Aussies do produce such players. Papenhuyzen scoring four tries in a game a recent example of someone who would have grabbed attention beyond RL circles had he done so here. Hanley, Offiah and co. did what he did, and often.
  12. I think your last line is especially pertinent. RL as it is currently played caters to a small market. If the sport wants to grow (and it evidently does) then it can no longer just cater to to its current market. Regarding your initial point, while I can see your take on the financial state of the game I think it can produce star players (the eye catching players who grab public attention) by playing in a manner that previously created stars. I think the way the game is played today makes it exceptionally hard for such stars to be produced. RU has no issue in regards to income, yet it has zero stars now. It’s attritional, forward dominated game with backs now the size of what forwards used to be, makes it even harder than RL for individuals to stand out and become stars. Madame Tussaud’s in London, the Jonah Lomu sculpture has long since been removed (relates to a previous comment I made that while it’s great having stars (as Lomu was), there needs to be fresh stars that are relevant to to kids today). There’s absolutely no-one in RU now, and that’s not because the talent is not there, it is, just like RL, but the talent doesn’t get the same platform to shine on the field as stars once did. Everything about RU relates to RL as they are so intertwined, and one of the reasons it’s now infinitely harder to excel as an individual in RU now is the influx of RL defensive coaches. Space is now at a premium. Gaps are far fewer. Players are now enormous. The field is far more congested, and defences are much tighter. All these factors have suffocated open, attacking play. Lomu could never do on the field today what he could do on the field during the time he became a star. He wouldn’t be allowed to, and thus he wouldn’t be a star today. Neither would Campese, and anyone else of similar ilk. While RL hasn’t exactly gone down the same attritional route as RU, it’s still much harder for attacking players to excel. The wrestle introduced from Australia, the tighter, better organised defensive structures (no turnstile defences), there isn’t the same gaps that were afforded to Hanley, Offiah, Robinson to make their eye catching plays. To be a star it has to be obvious to joe public. They have to do something that captures the attention of the casual, non hardcore supporter. After reading about him getting much praise on here Sam Tomkins I’ve watched previously to figure out what it is that he’s got. He’s obviously a very good player hence the praise, but whatever it is that he does it isn’t obvious. It could be what i’ve alluded to in that the game is that much harder than say Garry Schofield’s era, so it’s harder for him. But still, he went to the NRL and didn’t pull up any trees. Ultimately there is no rugby player (either code) who would be considered as an addition to Madame Tussaud’s today.
  13. 100%. Having someone for kids to want to emulate and/or watch is vital for the health of any sport. https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/may/08/world-cup-stunning-moments-25-ronaldo-france Jacob Steinberg of The Guardian: “In 1998, no one was as ferociously talented as Ronaldo, whose supernatural mixture of power, pace and skill had made him the player every child in the playground wanted to be; at the age of 21, the hopes and dreams of a nation rested on his shoulders” The amount of players who are now famous today, who cite Ronaldo as their idol, is incredible. This applies to a star from any sport. God knows how many picked up a golf club due to T.Woods. A star(s) is the ultimate way to grow a sport. As I said previously having old stars is great..you can wheel them out on talk shows, have them doing punditry etc. but they won’t keep the game alive. A sport needs to constantly be reinvigorated with new names.
  14. The general public in the UK (that’s those not confined to RL circles) couldn’t give a Scooby do about the NRL and know nothing about it. Rugby league within the UK is a much bigger deal in the UK than the Aus version, so in terms of RL name recognition here the like of Offiah, Hanley and Robinson dwarf anyone who comes from Aus. These old Aussie players, stars in Aus, they come over here and do interviews in community centres in front of a few diehard followers of the game. Wally Lewis for example to all intents and purposes means nothing to the general sports following public in the UK. Ditto Thurston. I remember watching the club World Cup game and the comm was really having to make a point about what a big name this fella is in Aus. The fella that came over this season to join Warrington, Greg Inglis, again he’s a complete unknown outside RL circles here. This is why I say RL (in England) needs a star name, because the stars in Aus (of which there are quite a few) have zero impact here. Zilch, nada, none, goose egg. It will take an eye catching player in the UK to grab attention here. Sam Burgess has been mentioned, but he is not in the same ilk as the three Brits I mentioned above. A big bruiser ain’t going to captivate the public. RL purists would appreciate such a player, none more so than Adrian Morley, but to captivate the wider public it has to be something more skilful/electrifying. In the case of RL (likewise RU) it’s the eye catching long runs while leaving opponents in their wake, and dummies galore.
  15. Lack of tourists would definitely be a factor. When I’m at Anfield I invariably have a non scouser (and often non English) sitting next to me, myself included. Travel will have been impacted. It still seems quite surreal to have so many thousands packed in stadiums given we are still in a pandemic. While watching the Man United game on Match of the Day I was wondering what Aussies make of this. Regarding the season ticket comment, It’s ridiculously hard to get one due to the waiting list. Very few give them up so the vast majority grow old with them.
  16. I chucked in Hamilton as he is extremely well known and often fronts F1 advertising. But yes I agree that he hasn’t triggered interest in F1 in the manner of the stars of other sports I listed. I think you are overblowing SBW here..”worldwide RU star”. His name was not on the lips of the general public. The last bona fide worldwide RU star was Jonah Lomu. He made people tune in to watch RU. With all due respect to SBW but he was never anywhere near approaching that status nor that of the other people I listed. Maybe in close RL (and RU) circles he was big (although I doubt he was that big), but outside that he wasn’t. To give some data on this. In the last two years his page has generated 966k hits on Wikipedia (a time period which includes his move to the Wolfpack), that’s just 1.3k views per day. That is not someone who is moving the dial. He was a big powerful unit who was great at the offload, but he was never electrifying or someone the man on the street would know. 13 tries in 58 games for NZ. Lomu amassed 43 tries in circa 70 games, and did so while rampaging through half the opposition. Offiah was a version of Lomu (a much slimmer version) who electrified people with his runs. And on your point about being able to name a RU player. No, there’s no-one, as RU has just gone further down the road in making it much harder for individuals to stand out. It’s a gym dominated, attritional game now. This is why I named Lomu as the last RU star (you could argue J.Wilkinson is, but his is linked to a single moment in time, plus he never got people tuning in). I did say RL (in England) needs a star, with the emphasis on England. There’s no issue with RL in Aus as the domestic game there is able to produce electrifying players.
  17. Google ‘famous rugby league players’. The results (from the UK) are all old players in the first row. The first two names are Hanley and Offiah (the marverick that was Garry Schofield also appears in there). I googled famous footballers (just to see that the first results weren’t just old players) and the results in the opening row were Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Mbappé, Pogba, Beckham, Iniesta, Ronaldinho, Pele (so five current players). It’s imperative for the health of a sport to have current stars. They enhance the profile of a sport as the media feeds off them, and the younger generation especially is inspired by them to play/watch the game. Old names are important, but their role is limited. Releasing merchandise (one example being the cover star on the latest video game), unless the name is relevant to kids today it won’t sell. Baseball is a sport that doesn't have a single household name today apparently. It looks more and more like a relic that belongs in a different era. There is nobody to sell shirts or for the media to gravitate to to drive up interest. Maybe baseball is just doomed due to it’s slow gameplay in a faster paced modern society. There’s no issues with the tempo of RL, but there is an issue with not allowing the equivalent of an Offiah, Hanley, Robinson or a maverick like Schofield.
  18. There are two major factors that makes someone follow a sport is (A).they follow a team (thus the entire competition), or (B).they follow an individual. Here is evidence this week of B. The power of the individual is enormous. RL (in England) desperately needs a star name to be the face (and lightning rod) for the sport. Look at the effect of Freddie Flintoff in cricket, Tiger Woods in golf, Federer in tennis, Lomu (the last RU star), Lewis Hamilton in F1 etc. Players/participants that light up the field/arena, that generate headlines, views etc. and in turn raise the profile of their sport. The best way to create a star is to elevate them on the field, which means allowing them to shine to their fullest ala Offiah, Robinson etc. RL’s profile is getting smaller in the UK and the lack of a star is the single major reason imo. There’s more games on terrestrial, there’s more games on satellite, there’s more access to RL news online (I’ve learned far more about RL on here, RL podcasts etc. than I knew previously). But having so many platforms is a waste if there’s no star for the masses to gravitate to. Kevin Sinfield, Phil Caplan called him probably the biggest name in English RL. He’s a great lad who does fantastic charity work. But he’s not a superstar. He was a very solid pro who (by all accounts) rarely had a bad game, but he’s bread and butter. He’s not an Offiah, a Hanley, a Robinson, someone who lit up the game and had kids (and the general public) captivated. Caplan on one of his podcasts spoke about how the women’s game reminds him of how the men’s used to be...more open, attacking, little wrestle, less stifling/spoiling tactics. The key then I feel for RL to get back to this which will allow an individual(s) to shine as they could do previously, and in doing so become stars which will captivate the public. Generally you shouldn’t have to be told by the expert on commentary/in the studio who the man of the match was. Individuals should be elevated to the extent that the man of the match should often be obvious to those watching, with eye catching long distance runs, dummies galore, moves that really make it clear to anyone. Players scoring three to four tries (and not the close in variety). You watch highlight reels of old players and they look amazing, rampaging through turnstile defences and all. The game elevated individuals then, which I feel it needs to get back to in order to captivate the general public.
  19. Spot on as usual. The common theme on here seems to be about “raising awareness” of the sport, “if only X could see a game they’d be hooked”. The public really aren’t that ignorant. The vast majority of those who follow sport week in week out are well aware of Rugby league. They will have seen it on terrestrial television. BBC Radio Merseyside has a 1 hour RL show which covers the city of Liverpool, it hasn’t budged scousers. As you say it’s about enticing non RL followers to watch a game. I find gimmicks don’t really work, especially if based on BS. The “every minute matters” slogan would have turned me off instantly as it was kidology. The more fixtures you add (super eights) you more you bloat the competition, making each game/minute matter less. By trimming the competition, you then elevate the importance of each game, therefore such a slogan would apply. The clubs want extra games for the coffers, but in doing so they dilute the significance of each game. I’d trim down the number of fixtures. I’d also look to find a way of making eye catching open attacking play much more common. Any stifling play like the wrestle I’d clamp right down on. And holding on more than (I dunno) two seconds during the play the ball routine, whistle goes and team goes 10 yards up the field (if that takes play past the try line, then try). I want more turnstile defences, wide open runs through midfield leaving players in their wake. Side steps and dummies galore. Individuals amassing 4 to 5 tries in a game, and not the close in variety. Games where you know instantly who the man of the match is (and not have to be informed by a RL expert on commentary/in the studio), that’s how stars are created. RU has a higher profile than RL, and yet RU hasn’t had a star in well over a decade, which doesn’t bode well for RL. What made Lomu a star, he could not do now, as the much increased average player size and much tighter defences (via RL coaches) would stifle him. Stifling creativity kills a sport.
  20. “Virus riddled” is what Aussies are thinking, and for a largely unvaccinated Aussie populous that’s dangerous. Our situation is much better than theirs due to the vaccine roll out, but without vaccinations it would be a different story. The Aussies are now where we were March/April/May of last year. I get this insular thinking (the RLWC must happen this year, the Aussies are jeopardising it). I was exactly like this in regards to the Premier League shutting down with Liverpool 25 points clear and only a 10 games left (maximum 30 available). My thought process was dominated by Liverpool missing out on a league title. But many people were dying. It was hard to park any thoughts of the league, and I don’t think I did. Had I been impacted directly (family member for example) that would have very quickly made me see sense.
  21. The Kiwis cannot return home to NZ. It makes no sense to then say okay but you can travel 10k miles across the world. The Aussies have been very consistent with this. To ignore what is happening in Australia and only focus on what you think should happen is insular thinking.
  22. The only thing I can think of is those who run the game/make the rules are able to analyse plays that have gone viral (eye catching runs/dummies etc.) and figure out how they can be a common feature in the game. I know it’s of no concern on here but RU I think would be much easier to solve as it’s main issue is obvious, namely player bulk is out of control. Two sets of XV pretty regular sized blokes on a field afforded players some space to run, now thanks to their mammoth size it’s completely overcrowded with space at a premium. This combined with the tighter defensive structures that are now in place have also made it infinitely harder to make a line break. What made Lomu a star, those rampaging runs in open space with opposition players hanging off him, he’d get completely shut down in todays game. I used to watch lots of Ireland, mainly to see O’Driscoll. Much like the rest of RU they are now unwatchable. It’s an attrition dominated game. South Africa’s bish bash RU was limited to them, now it’s the norm. RL the defences look to have got better, to the detriment of the attacking stuff.
  23. Disagree with women’s RL. I thoroughly enjoyed a game a while back (watched as there was a Leeds woman playing who sometimes appears on forty20 podcast, great lass). They played an open attacking game that was reminiscent of how men’s RL used to be, according to Phil Caplan. Regarding women’s football, it generally is pretty average (trying to be diplomatic here). And I mean average by women’s standards when you see what women can do in tennis and increasingly in golf. The difference with tennis though is that women have been able to develop over the same time period as the men, while women’s football was basically blocked around the 1930s despite its popularity. So a debt is owed to women who should be given time to develop. Throwing a ball any able bodied person can do as we use our hands in everyday life, kicking a ball from A to B is a different story. It is easier to take up a hand based sport than a foot based one, hence the women RL players are able to put in long passing sequences while the female footballers struggle. In RL the ball generally isn’t passed that far either, so a woman can pull that off, whereas executing a hard 40, 50, 60 yard cross field pass with your foot (or a goal kick that needs to reach at least halfway), very few women can do that. There’s also an issue with goalkeeper height as the gap is too big with the 8 ft crossbar, so they get lobbed a lot. The field dimensions/goal posts were set up for men, so for the women I’d lower the crossbar and shorten the field that way it’s more suited to them. The one major thing women’s rugby doesn’t have is the rugged power, so you don’t get the same attritional stuff, which is a plus in many ways. In relation to the topic, rather than look for some RL variant, why not try to get the 13 man game more open like it used to be. Those turnstile defences actually make play more eyecatching. RL purists might like the grinding, defensive stuff but it’s those long runs past three and four players that grab the most attention. Amazes me whenever this topic comes up and people ask “what can we do”. The answer can be seen in what goes viral. Attacking play, flair...always has done. The Rangi Chase behind the back pass a notable example. RU has to hark back to Lomu for the eye catching stuff. We’ve just had a Lions series, instantly forgettable. Messi has been called a “tourist attraction” for the city he plys his trade and the reason for that is the eye catching stuff. He’s a global superstar because he’s in a skill based sport that allows him to showcase his talent to the full. People follow a sport for two main reasons: 1.they have a team in it, so will watch them and their competition (so, the entire league) 2.they follow an individual (I was glued to the screen watching Ronaldo (Brazilian) when he was at Barcelona). It’s very hard to follow a RL club side as they are based in towns that are detached from outside. It’s very geographic specific, regional, thus hard to connect/identity with. Therefore it’s even more imperative it has eye catching players, and in the case of RL (and RU) its players who make those runs/make dummy passes. Players who light up a game. The way RL is played today with much tighter defences, the wrestle, bigger players etc. it’s infinitely harder to really stand out.
  24. They are under the NRL umbrella though. I had a look on Wikipedia and counted nine Aus based PNG players (most in the lower league), half the squad. On a side note looking at their squad I was surprised that a team made up of quite a few lower league players were able to beat GB quite recently. Basically anyone who plays in Aus, their participation in the RlWC was compromised due to the measures Australia as a nation are taking towards this pandemic. Had they been where we are then yeah, the virus would have been a non issue with regard to playing. They aren’t though, the Kiwis not being able to get back to NZ before Christmas just an example of that. If they cannot get back home to NZ it’s a tad cheeky to expect them to travel halfway around the world. A town gets 100 cases in Aus they go berserk, here we have towns with 5k cases and everything is open. With the vaccine roll out here it’s a very different situation to Aus.
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