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The Rocket

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  1. Rugby League World Cup boss Jon Dutton this week issued a passionate rallying-cry as he confidently predicted this autumn’s event can surpass all expectations and deliver England glory. Facing the media as the clock ticked down to 80 days before England’s opening game against Samoa, Dutton repeated assurances of anticipated record-breaking ticket sales across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments. So with the strength of player pool no longer a concern, focus turns to bolstering ticket sales and creating noise around a tournament that Dutton hopes can catch fire in the way that the women’s Euros has grabbed the public’s imagination this summer. “It’s just a tournament that feels special,” Dutton adds of the women’s football event that he has been attending as a supporter, and at which he has felt “palpable excitement”. “We wouldn’t have had this in 2021. We are delighted to be amongst other events in 2022, and we have seen the positivity, optimism, and a family audience. We could see the audience adopting a nation and I think that’s similar to what we will experience.” As for ticket sales, there is confidence of sell-outs for the England opener and the final, and it is fundamental to their strategy that they do. This is a big ‘hold your nerve’ exercise now for organisers hopeful of a late rush of ticket sales off the back of the women’s Euros success and the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. Between 35 to 40 games are expected to be shown on BBC1 and BBC2, and rather than that providing a reason for fans not to buy tickets, Dutton expects it to have the opposite effect. In short, UK viewers have watched the success of the Lionesses on terrestrial television and wanted a piece of it. The atmospheres have thus been electric. Last year’s postponement prompted a refund window which saw 19% of tickets returned, but organisers are holding out hope for a frantic final six-week period which they hope will trigger a huge surge in demand. As such, 75% of the entire advertising budget is being held back for the final six weeks before the tournament starts. Above anything, the Rugby League World Cup is being led by a fan who loves the game and would do anything to see it succeed. Last year’s postponement hit Dutton hard, and he admits he could have walked away then, citing financial losses incurred by the postponement as in the “multiple millions of pounds” and personally a real hit to his mental health. He points to an impressive array of commercial partnerships that have “massively overachieved” expectations as a big reason for optimism. As in any sport, the most effective way to sell out stadiums is to have a winning team. England have a brand new kit and a squad keen to prove the doubters wrong. So, soon it will be over to Shaun Wane and his players to get those stadiums full. “There is lots of positivity despite some of the challenges that people face in terms of disposable income” Dutton admits. “So my rallying cry to everyone who are passionate about the sport is to get behind this, it is the biggest moment in 127 years in terms of tournament rugby league.” Rugby League | Rugby League World Cup 2021 | RLWC | Jon Dutton | Rugby League World Cup Chiefs Confident Of “Complete Buy-In” (thesportsman.com)
  2. "I guess probably my last World Cup wasn't the best." he said. "I sort of treated it as a little vacation and probably drank a bit too often, and ate more than I should have," he said. Difference is is that Papalii was saying that about being in the Australian team camp during the last World Cup. Which makes me wonder a) exactly how hard the Aussies had to try and reveals more about their mindset, and b) your observation/criticism of past Samoan teams mindset may be more to do with previously them not really thinking they ever had a chance of winning, hence the possibly lax/holiday with my Samoan mates attitude. Makes me wonder if they`ll come with a completely different attitude this time now that they might think ` hey we can actually win this thing `.
  3. The latest tranche of figures from Channel 4. Channel 4's viewing figures revealed for all Super League games so far with the likes of Castleford Tigers, Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos broadcasted - Rugby League News (seriousaboutrl.com) For Castleford Tigers’ debut on Channel 4 against Wigan Warriors, the increase in viewers rose sharply despite the fact that it was a Bank Holiday weekend in celebration of the Queen’s 70th year on the throne. There was a peak of 390,000 with a match average of 302,000 which equated to 5.4% of the TV share at the time and a broadcast average of 268,000 or 4.8%. Seem pretty solid to me, makes you wonder what they might get if they could get on weekly.
  4. Great read, pity something like this can`t make it over the desks of those at NRL HQ. Might be worth everyone`s while by emailing this to Peter Beattie at the commission.
  5. I doubt Suaalii will get into the Australian squad so this is a massive in for Samoa : Suaalii undecided on Australia or Samoa Joseph Suaalii has revealed that he has not made his call for the Rugby League World Cup at the end of the year, preferring to wait to see which sides select him. He confirmed that neither Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga nor Toa Samoa boss Matt Parish had been in touch regarding selections, and that he was simply happy to wait and see. “I honestly haven’t thought about it too much but I want to be there playing at the World Cup,” said the towering winger after the Roosters’ defeat of Brisbane last night. “I’m trying to make that Australian team and if I’m lucky enough I’ll make that Samoan team as well. If I get picked for either of them it would be an honour. If I’m playing at the World Cup I’ll be happy.” .
  6. How much do we owe the success and the determination of Bernard Gausch and the Catalans for raising the profile of League in France and leading to developments like this and France holding the World Cup. To think that there could be any doubt about the externalities of having French teams in Europe`s premier Rugby League competition.
  7. There`s no questioning what he meant in the following statement : "I guess probably my last World Cup wasn't the best." he said. "I sort of treated it as a little vacation and probably drank a bit too often, and ate more than I should have," he said. I`d be very wary relying on blokes like Papalii, patently past his best I find it very hard to imagine that he`s going to treat this WC any different than the last, especially potentially surrounded by others past their best, the inclusion of blokes like him could do more harm than good for the Samoan team and be a bad influence on the young blokes who might actually want to win.
  8. Headline in today`s Oz: NRL 2022: Broncos star Herbie Farnworth makes miraculous recovery and set for finals. The Broncos’ teetering premiership assault has received a huge boost with strike centre Herbie Farnworth making a stunning recovery from a serious bicep tear to be ready for the NRL finals.
  9. One, it would be far better having it on a FTA network and them be promoting the hell out of it, and two, we`re a long way from " most Australian sports fans " having Kayo. I don`t and I bet a lot of regional viewers who can`t get good enough internet, don`t either. But I`ll cop all that if the organisers got a good amount for it and even better if Foxtel on-sell some games to FTA.
  10. It really all comes down to follow up wins Bedford, without that not a lot would change. This isn`t helped by the Warriors being perennial underachievers so an on-going champion national team could serve the same purpose for League in NZ. I think it is pretty obvious the Kiwis are crying out for a competitive Rugby League team against Oz, they`ve got us covered in the union and League with its` high profile would become a source of great national pride. To understand this you have to understand the big brother/ little brother ( call it what you will ) relationship we have with the Kiwis. Certainly if the Warriors started to excel or the Kiwis started beating us regularly I don`t think it would be long before there was a second Kiwi team. And to be honest I think the sky would be the limit if the Kiwis started beating us on a regular basis and have the World Champions crown, that would really get under a lot of Aussies skin and not only League fans.
  11. Speaking of Mal Meninga, this whole situation has the potential to get ugly, Meninga will be cursing the NRL because they`ve probably just made it a whole lot harder for him to convince a significant number of players to turn out for Oz. Alternatively they`ve probably just made it easier for some of the Pacific Islands to recruit players, who may now view it as some sort of religious crusade.
  12. Mightn`t be such a bad thing if New Zealand are the World Cup champions.
  13. Regards WC broadcast deal for Oz. Bloke says he has spoken to Dutton, hope that means he`s talking the truth. There are reports that a deal has been finalised and will be announced soon. Jon Dutton, the CEO of the event, is quoted to have said “deal is done and announcement is imminent. It’s a good deal. I am looking forward to it being announced”. This is according to Stuart Glendinning, and was emailed out to the Rugby League Uncovered email database following a meeting he had with Dutton.
  14. Imagine if the NRL would actually spend a bit of money there and also give the Warriors a few concessions so they could be the mega-club they ought to be. https://www.rugbypass.com/rugby-league/news/people-are-getting-bored-former-all-black-makes-startling-admission-that-nrl-has-overtaken-union/ Former All Black fullback Israel Dagg has made a startling admission that rugby union is being ‘absoluted dominated’ by its rival code, with rugby league commanding more of an audience in New Zealand.
  15. Alternatively they are working by the Homer Simpson principle of : " It was stupidity that got us into this situation, and it will be stupidity that gets us out ".
  16. Any game involving Papua New Guinea.
  17. Definitely seeing the World Cup getting a lot more mentions lately. Good to see the eligibility question being seen as a point of interest rather than being viewed negatively. Rugby League World Cup 2022: Which nations are NRL players representing? (msn.com)
  18. It`s a real trip down memory lane for me too, seeing names like Barry Beath, Bruce Starkey, Poppa Clay, Elton Rasmussen and legends like Billy Smith, takes me right back to when as a small child my Father would have the League on the radio in the backyard on the weekends.
  19. Yes it isn`t hard to imagine. One thing the recent rep weekend showed is that like it or not there is still a gulf between the tier two nations and OZ and NZ, with NZ increasingly looking on par with the Australians.
  20. Not sure about that. NZ has over 5 million people and a GDP/capita similar to England. So not a lot of difference to the size of NSW`s economy really. As long as we don`t over saturate the market I don`t think Rugby League would have too much problem selling out 2 or 3 internationals every year.
  21. I like that and it would leave plenty of scope for taking it around the country. Only problem I see is that a lot of people don`t like two-match series, see Women`s SOO, they like to have a 2-1 winner every year, personally I wouldn`t have an issue especially if we knew we were going to get a hum-dinger of a series every year. It could be huge.
  22. If the Kiwi`s knocked us out of the World Cup at the end of the year and then backed that up by beating us again next year, even if it was only in a one-off Test, I think the ruckus generated by those defeats would see demand for a three Test series arise pretty quickly. And now the bad news for our Northern friends. I think once again the IRL calendar would pretty quickly be reshaped to fit in around Australia`s Test calendar versus the Kiwis.
  23. True to a point certainly, but if the the Kiwi Rugby League team can start to win consistent games against the Kangaroos it won`t be long before an annual three Test series between the Kangaroos and the Kiwis dwarfs not only the Bledisloe and SOO but also most in-bound union tours and becomes the highlight of the annual sporting calendar down here. I look forward to the day that SOO not only becomes a battle for state supremacy but also has the added spice of being a contest that determines the make-up of the Australian team, like it use to.
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