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DC77

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  1. Firstly you cannot compare a global sport to a parochial one. In the north (and south) of Ireland we are quite unique when it comes to football in that most of our players (of any quality) go to England/Scotland, thus the professional game there is one we are instantly connected to. And as I said these teams are international in scope so with football being a global sport it has global interest. A young Irish footballer (and many around the globe) dreams of playing for a Liverpool, or a Manchester United, or a Celtic, club’s players (and fans) are drawn to. Liverpool FC with its world famous anthem (almost certainly THE most famous in all of sport) it carries a universal message that anyone around the world can relate to. The team also play games around the world, as do Man United and other teams. Conversely, domestic leagues in Union and League are parochial in that teams generate next to no interest outside their own geographic location. This has shackled them immensely. As I said before, in Liverpool St Helens is seen as being for St Helens, which leaves them detached from a city just 15 miles down the road. The result of this lack of wider appeal means they play before crowds akin to a 3rd/4th tier English football club. Surely the aim is for teams not to be so parochial? To broaden their appeal, to be more inclusive, for people from outside to feel a connection. To use a RL follower from Wales as an example (since the Welsh has some RL identity), your argument is basically “I don’t know how a Welsh person can be a passionate supporter of St Helens (insert any other English RL name here), they should be supporting Pontypridd Gladiators, or Llanelli Wild Stallions...infront of two dozen (family members of players) and the chap who walks his dog past the field.”
  2. Not sure it can be done. It’s not so much just the names that Big Picture is alluding to (towns that RL clubs are based in) it’s the perception that the sport of RL is parochial, ie. entrenched in their own communities which leaves it detached from outsiders. Even London Broncos for instance, they are in London, have London in its name, so you would think “global”, buts it’s RL, viewed as a parochial game. Also London is just seen as an outpost. Unless people outside the RL heartland suddenly took up the game (and they haven’t in 125 years) the club game will remain parochial within England. I think the opportunity is outside England as fans in Toronto don’t have this same perception of the game in England. Perhaps a London Broncos would resonate more with foreigners. As an Irishman when I see an English RL team on tv I think that’s a culture that belongs to a specific geographic group in the north of England. When I see an English football club (certainly one of the bigger clubs) I think a combination of the city they are based in as well as its English and international identity. When I’m at Anfield I’m surrounded by other non scousers in the stands. I then see a team made up of an Egyptian top goalscorer, a Dutch leader in defence, Brazilian in nets, led by a German manager, and flags representing a range of player nationalities being waved around the stadium. And before the game starts an anthem that is probably the most famous on the planet is played (and sung). Anyone in the world can identity with this. Britpop was very parochial which is why it didn’t have the same international resonance that a Coldplay had for example. RL in England is the sports equivalent of Britpop just in a more confined space within England.
  3. I think you have a valid point here in regards to the locations of teams. RL is seen as a regional sport and almost detached from those outside it. There’s not much crossover. While at University I lived in Liverpool (also stayed in Manchester) and there was pretty much zero RL presence in either. Some Aussies have posted on here previously their bewilderment at how this can be given the close proximity of these northern cities to RL towns. Professor Tony Collins in his RL podcast has talked about going a few miles outside a RL town and finding no RL interest. England is quite unique (I think) in that there are so many completely distinct regional accents, which reflects how different each area is. They have their own mini cultures which makes it extra difficult for what is seen as a regional sport like RL to break through. I think there are two main reasons an individual follows a sport. A.You have a team in it. B.You have an interest in a player. It’s hard to follow a team in RL as they are so parochial. They are entrenched in their own towns (alluding to what I said previously that outsiders (even in neighbouring cities) feel detached from them). This is completely different with major sports teams (Premier League clubs, Barca, Real Madrid, AC Milan etc., or NFL teams) in that they are much more international/accessible. My own team, Liverpool FC, they might be based in Liverpool and have a core Liverpool (scouse) identity but anyone around the world can identify with the club. One of the best renditions of the club’s anthem “You'll Never Walk Alone” was by 95k Aussies at the MCG. You can’t really have this connection with a parochial team unless you are from the same town/have a family connection. And in relation to B, I don’t have a team in basketball, but I did watch Michael Jordan in the play off finals in what turned out to be his final year (I haven’t watched since). But he was enough to get me watching, and I’m not alone in that. RL in England hasn’t had such a name in a long time. RU last had it with Jonah Lomu who was an enormous draw. He has a point though. I don’t think it’s snobbery, I think it’s the parochial aspect of the club game that makes it very hard for outsiders to connect to (club RU has the same issue as RL). While Liverpool FC (or Barca, or Man United etc.) belongs to the world, St Helens belongs to St Helens. Sponsors are almost exclusively drawn to those with a larger fanbase/geographic footprint which explains the discrepancy in the names between a Liverpool and a St Helens. I think the problem for RL started with its origin in that it’s regionally locked in. I think another issue (certainly in England) is that when you follow a team sport you don’t tend to follow another one (with any great degree of interest). I can’t really see the status of club RL in England getting much beyond what it is now (perhaps a few thousand above the current average) so really it’s up to the international games to try and generate extra interest, hence the understandable annoyance at the pull out of the Aussies/Kiwis.
  4. That’s the gist of what I heard on another BBC podcast. Panic mode. The way the Aussies are reacting is similar to how it was here at the beginning (March 2020). Talks of leagues being cancelled (from a Liverpool FC fan perspective, being 25 points clear at the top, only 10 games left (30 points available), we had the league all but wrapped up, the first in my lifetime, and the general talk was “cancel the league, health comes first”...a view from rival fans of course). Since then we’ve got more accustomed to the virus and there isn’t the same panic. The vaccine programme has helped enormously with that but the Aussies haven’t gone through this.
  5. That’s a month though isn’t it? Im not defending their argument, but I do think it’s genuine from their side. The Aussies are in lockdown with just 100 covid cases daily, they play NRL games in one geographic location. It’s totally different to here (though I do remember last year that there was talk of the Premier League having similar bubbles, with games being played in just a few stadiums). We’ve since become a lot more relaxed about the situation, something the Aussies have not. Of course if the RLWC was a much bigger deal than it is now it’s possible the Aussies would have more leeway with this decision. This is the problem with the NRL being so dominant in the sport. It’s not that far off NFL in that to all intents and purposes it is the only show in town, and because of that they will always put it first.
  6. Smith is genuine, but few here grasp those concerns. Listening to the BBC’s RL podcast this week it was interesting to hear a contributor from NRL.com. The Aussies have a totally different approach to this virus than here. 100 people in Aus being diagnosed with covid daily has forced the place into lockdown, while here 50k diagnosed daily and we are open. There’s also a different approach to the vaccine programme which would explain the difference. He pointed out the difference with the Aussie Olympic team who were isolated together before going to Japan as a group where they will stay in a bubble, and they come home as soon as their participation is over). Cricket and RU also just one team, whereas RL it’s over 500 people from the NRL, and they all spread out to different teams, each of them sharing facilities with the general public and play in a country where 50k are diagnosed daily. Basically he was putting forward genuine concerns.
  7. Concur that few want to see back and forth easing scoring (it would kill the elation of scoring with it being so easy). I think it’s the manner of scoring that is important. A length of the field passage of play is exhilarating, the bread and butter in close scoring much much less so.
  8. 100%. The five day format was built for the Victorian era, a much slower paced time. They’ve had no option but to speed things up and cater for the much shorter attention spans. Early days but this new 100 ball format seems to be working. RL doesn’t have anywhere near as much room to manoeuvre in terms of changing the game. When you go down to nine a side it makes scoring too easy (think basketball). Perhaps 11 is an option? 13 is fine if it’s a more open game. In the case of RU 15 is far too many. Overcrowded field full of mammoth gym monkeys which means space/gaps are at a premium, games are largely attritional arm wrestle contests. 15 a side was fine when the players were regular sized which was the case from the Victorian era up to a few decades back, but with their bigger bulk than RL they could trim to 11 per side.
  9. Rugby 7s broadcast on? The BBC...that’s the BRITISH broadcasting corporation, the home of the sport. And despite that it’s still far down the list of priorities here. The focus is on the main events. These niche sports do not get shown (bar very brief footage/mention in some cases) outside their own hotbeds. The core sports get shown globally, then the next batch are region based. Coverage is significant if a nation is particularly strong at it (cycling/rowing in the UK).
  10. As for the “improvement of women” being bigger than that of men. That’s a given as the women’s game is starting from scratch, the men’s game has been prominent for well over a century. When you start from nothing your gains will dwarf those who are already established.
  11. Lionel Messi, won the Copa America two weeks ago, widely reported as the first thing he won with Argentina. Messi won the Olympics with Argentina in 2008. You are seriously overblowing the importance of the Olympics. Perhaps a few decades back when it was much much bigger than it is now, there is an argument (albeit a weak one) that having sports in it that already have their own, much bigger, events, could benefit from being in it. Baring some income from being an IOC member sport (an amount which you have yet to mention) there isn’t any significant benefit. Andy Murray won an Olympic gold in tennis. I only remembered that as it was brought up this week. Justin Rose won an Olympic gold in golf, that too was brought up this week. These are footnotes in their careers. As it is for Messi, as it is for whoever won the RU sevens in front of sparse crowds in tiny stadiums broadcast to RU hotbeds.
  12. In what way would it be a game changer? In the unlikely event of there being RU sevens and a RL nines in an Olympics (although as I said nothing would surprise me now) how much exactly would RL get? What has been the benefits to RU? Games played to sparse crowds in small stadiums and covered by their own hotbeds. It ain’t spreading the game. The main event for the Rugby codes are their own World Cups. i have limited interest in football at the Olympics, really it shouldn’t be there. Neither should all the others sports at the Olympics which see it as a minor event.
  13. I noticed 3 vs 3 basketball being played earlier...and they use just one backboard. Previously I’d have been shocked but now it’s a shrug. The IOC are desperate to drum up interest by shoving anything in there but it ain’t going to work. The Olympics is not going to die, but it isn't and won’t be what it was.
  14. Basketball is an overwhelmingly niche sport outside the US, and inside it it is dominated by Africans which sees the viewership being disproportionately black. Its simply not competitive enough to have a viable World Cup, so the interest is negligible. The status of the Olympics *gave it a draw among the top players that it otherwise would not have had. I say gave as it no longer has that draw among top players. Big brands have also pulled out over the last two Olympics. This lessening draw applies to most sports at the Olympics as the event itself is not what it was. Drug use is one reason (sceptical about competitors), the influx of gimmicky events another (diluting the games with so many), but the main reason for me is we now have unlimited access to anything we want to view via our tablets, laptops, phones etc. An Olympics before all this would have stood out a mile. It was the talk of the town. Now it’s just another event swamped among all the other media and options we have at our disposal. Can anyone name me a British athlete? Maybe the female sprinter...anyone else? Contrast this with the days of Daley Thompson, Sally Gunnell, Colin Jackson, Linford Christie, Jonathan Edwards, John Regis, Roger Black, Steve Backley and on and on and on. The focus and spotlight just isn’t there anymore. Taking all this into account, as well as RU getting negligible growth via a sevens event, I don’t see RL benefiting by being at the Olympics (bar the small amount of money received as an IOC member sport). Those who watched the RU sevens will overwhelmingly have come from the RU hotbeds. There are so many sports to cover that niche sports will only appeal to their own region. It’s a moot point anyway because RU sevens being in there there’s no chance a RL equivalent would also get in...although given how farcical the event has got nothing would be a surprise.
  15. There would be more merit to that, as it would regards RU, and golf, and pretty much every other sport that shouldn’t be in an Olympics. Basketball in the Olympics is understandable as they don’t have a World Cup (of any note), thus the Olympics is their biggest national team event. The Olympics is for sports where it is the ultimate stage. Messi won an Olympic gold with Argentina, yet he had been seen (by most) as having won nothing at international level, until the Copa America two weeks ago. I have no idea who won the RU at the Olympics (I’ll guess NZ). What I do remember was the sparse crowds in tiny stadiums, and these games would only be shown in RU hotbeds. Only about three or four sports are shown by every nation (Athletics, Swimming, Gymnastics the big three), the rest the coverage is based on regional interest. Add all this into the decline of the Olympics from what it was, being in it is not this enormous opportunity for growth that some are suggesting.
  16. I don’t see the comparison. Denmark taking part and winning, Australia not taking part, you are comparing two different things. The manner in which Denmark won it is mentioned whenever it comes up, but it’s seen as a non issue as their participation was legitimate as the team they replaced were at war. It was immensely fortunate for them that they were able to participate, but that’s it. Equally, Australia not playing due to covid, whoever replaced them would be legitimate. I’ve yet to hear anyone say “team X” taking their place would not be legitimate. There have always been the next best teams/individuals who have missed out on a sporting competition but end up taking part due to a withdrawal for whatever reason. Not only has it not been an issue, them doing well, “a wildcard”, elevates the event. The issue here is Australia are, to all intents and purposes, more than 50% of the sport. Resources, playing numbers, they have more than all the other teams combined. You take them out you take out the majority of the sport. If they were say 10% of the sport, you could get away with their non participation. But they ain’t just 10%. Whoever wins without their participation it would be a largely hollow success. To win a RLWC you have to either beat Australia or beat the team that beats Australia.
  17. Ireland, Scotland and Wales are by some distance the three nations which would see RL grow most in England. Without those three nations (which is the situation with RL to all intents and purposes) then RU would be on a par with RL. Annually, the Six Nations is the only time when RU has its moment in the Sun. Take out the other three nations there is next to no interest in RU across England outside the Rugger hotbeds. Those that do watch Rugger in Liverpool will watch England vs Ireland, they don’t watch Saracens vs Leicester. I agree with you in not focusing on them for a different reason though in that RL has very little chance of making any serious inroads in those three countries as RU has already taken up the rugby spot. In any area where one code is strong the other is weak, unfortunately for RL RU got in first in most places where the oval ball game is played.
  18. Rugby league is quite unique though in that it is largely entrenched in pit towns. This is according to Tony Collins on his RL podcast, adding that football doesn’t have a connection to the pits (although I dispute his ascertain somewhat in that three Scottish managerial giants Bill Shankly, Matt Busby and Jock Stein (for example) who transformed Liverpool, Manchester United and Celtic all worked down the pits in Scotland). With the end of the pits, and the affiliated community centres in these areas, RL maybe doesn’t have the same fan base that it could once rely on. Sport is tied in with the community, and if the community changes it will impact the sport. I’m coming from a totally outside view on this but I’ve seen it mentioned numerous times on here that the bus loads who went to Challenge Cup finals in the past doesn’t happen today anywhere near like it once did. From a football perspective, the large clubs (or any Premier League club) don’t rely on the communities they are based in (I say this as a Liverpool fan living a few hundred miles away in Ireland). So it’s really only the smaller football clubs that would be similarly reliant on their local community as rugby league clubs. The media profile of football as well as high participation levels means those smaller clubs get an extra leg up in their communities that RL clubs cannot call upon, so that could be why support in lower league football has remained strong in comparison. A Harry Kane helps a Whitby Town FC, as individuals help grow a sport as kids want to emulate them, buy boots, go to see games etc. The profile of RL in London is pretty much non existent, and with there also not being much of a presence of RL being played in fields/parks among kids in London then growing a club there is nigh on impossible. Without developing significant roots in the game in London Hughes is throwing money away.
  19. Having watched two exhibitions over the past 48 hours (Penrith (especially #7) and Manley (second half)) i want to re-evaluate and quote this again. Those two teams lit up the game with so much beautiful attacking play, so I concur completely with your last paragraph. Been a joy to watch.
  20. Beautiful pass that. Joy to watch this second half execution.
  21. That last half hour was as dominant as the 1970 Brazil team of Pele. Roosters pinned back for most of it. No RL expert by any means but that’s as good as I’ve seen from a RL team. The obvious stand out performer Nathan Cleary sees everything on the field.
  22. Those are the “best” ones? Bleedin awful bar the Sydney Roosters one which is decent. Aussies don’t do singing like here (or in football generally) and have to be prompted to “make some noise” (which you can hear on the PA system during NRL games). The best thing they did by a mile was a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone when Liverpool played at the MCG (topped this list). The best instrumental piece I’ve heard in person is a tie between the Champions League entrance music (which precedes the anthem itself) and Fanfare for Rocky at Old Trafford when I was in the Liverpool away section. The acoustics in a stadium make both sound incredible (need to listen on headphones to get the stadium like effect)
  23. I know you were talking about youth level. What I stated applies to all levels. The very thing that inspires youths to play the game is the stuff they see on tv. It’s by far the biggest driver. So when you see what is a collision based game, where one bloke runs into another bloke, that’s an acquired taste. It will inspire some kids who’d like to emulate what these blokes do (obviously as there wouldn’t by anyone playing it), but kids predominately favour skill based games, games where the focus is on them expressing themselves, and not getting battered in the process. For an aspiring kid to play rugby they know they will have to bulk up, spending hours in the gym on a regular basis to partake in it. The tag rugby stuff ain’t rugby. That’s running around with a ball and touching an opponent. It’s much closer to tag than rugby. When the collisions start, and the wrestling/grappling, that’s when the rugby starts. Watch the enormous drop off when that kicks in, as well as with the gym/bulking up process. Concur with your point about evasiveness. That’s a huge draw that rugby (both codes) should be emphasising more. I loved watching Brian O’Driscoll (he was at his peak vs Australia in the 2001 Lions series...perfect physical shape, wirey/elusive frame before he was forced to bulk up which saw him lose half a yard). Ireland RU (like almost all the other teams) are virtually unwatchable now. Think it was you that mentioned RU could do with having less players on the field, resulting in more space. Both rugby codes have the capacity to be more eye catching, but they’ve both gone the other way in being more physical/attritional, RL not as far as RU of course. This has made it harder for stars to be created. There are stars in Aus but RL there is big time, so they will be stars regardless. You need to do much more in the UK, and what made Offiah a star couldn’t be done today as the game is infinitely harder to make those eye catching runs. The top try scoring figures have nosedived. The talent is roughly the same so that’s not the issue, the problem is the platform to shine on the field isn’t there. I’d hazard a guess that Offiah would score 50% of what he scored then. The last RU superstar Lomu is in the same boat. No way does he make the same impact now as he did then. The space ain’t there anymore, the bigger bodies would shut him out. Football and basketball aren’t the two biggest sports on the planet by chance. The gameplay allows individuals to shine, stand out and become mega stars, and they do so while not getting pummelled in the process. While both rugby codes have made it harder to stand out, it’s now easier to stand out in football as the players get enormous protection from officials (far less dangerous tackling for one). Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have both scored over 700 goals breaking records galore. Millions of kids see what they do and want to emulate them, buy jerseys, equipment, attend games etc...result, the sport grows like wildfire. Basketball ain’t my thing, but it’s impossible not to be in awe of the moves of Michael Jordan. The same would apply to Ronaldo (Brazilian, not the Portuguese tart), Messi, or in tennis Federer. Rugby could produce a similar level star, which in turn gets more kids playing and would ultimately grow the sport. But it’s gone the other way in terms of allowing stars to be created.
  24. Impossible. Football is skill based. Rugby (both codes) are collision based. When you play football you spend 99.9% of your time with the ball, honing skills. When you play rugby, you spend a great deal of time in the gym while downing protein shakes to bulk up, something you have to maintain year upon year to withstand the mini car crashes your body goes through. To make rugby (either code, but league since it’s the topic here) more appealing to play like football you’d have to get rid of what makes rugby what it is. In the era of Maradona and Pele they could get kicked without being penalised, something that is rare now as players are protected. A rugby player today will get a hiding week in week out, with the odd concussion thrown in for good measure, and that’s basis of the game. Footballers can play every three days (and those three days are purely for resting tired limbs), Rugby players (those left standing) need a full week, and those seven days are for healing their battered bodies. Ultimately Rugby is a mugs game. You get paid very little (comparatively speaking) and you put your body through hell. Beyond the physical aspect there’s the ability to express yourself. A round ball allows you to do that infinitely more than an oval one. In addition a ball in your hand you are quite limited in what you can do, at your foot its almost limitless. There’s also the aesthetic difference in scoring method. Striking a ball and seeing it hit the net, or putting the ball down with your hand in an area the width of a field. It’s extremely rare to see a try scored go viral, with football it’s a regular occurrence. There is no such thing as a “great finisher” in rugby as the actual scoring is academic. The focus is on what the player does before he gets to the scoring zone, ie. a run. Football has both (build up (dribble or passing move) and the finish). There is also no rugby equivalent of Messi (obviously not taking stature/fame here, I’m talking about style). They are contrasting sports. Football has too many inherent advantages over rugby for rugby to be a version of it in terms of mass popularity and participation. Rugby can only be the best version of itself. Just on the finishing point, there is no rugby equivalent of this video. “Top 35 put the ball on the ground in the try area”, just doesn’t exist. The vast majority of scoring in rugby is very very basic (there’s the odd acrobatic leap where the fella puts the ball down with one hand while his body is outside the field of play).
  25. His own mental well-being comes first so he’s making the right call.
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