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Everything posted by zylya

  1. I don't think expansion has failed because I don't think there's ever really been a long-term plan in place for sustainable, lasting expansion, so nothing to really measure success/failure against. If there had been a 10-20 "grow the game" plan then we could easily assess the success or failure, but because there's never been a clear plan in place, nor an overarching strategy even at a basic level, the argument is a little trite and meaningless. It's why there are pockets of activity in certain areas and not in others - it's basically left up to the devices of people who are interested in setting up their own clubs, with a variety of levels of experience and expertise. Hence why some areas are doing well and others are struggling. Interestingly, in the 2022-2030 community strategy, the RFL make reference to certain opportunities being made available "across the country" but don't specify any targets for growth aside from a minimum of 3 FE (college) development centres in the London, West and Midlands areas of the country. Indeed, when it comes to community clubs, it suggests that the responsibility for development lies with foundations ("support foundations to assist in delivery of RFL development plans specific to each area.") I've often wondered if it's worth having "The RFL" and a semi-separate "RFL South" that oversees how the game is run in these development areas. Still a part of the wider RFL, but their board would essentially have their own budget and devise their own strategy to grow the game outside of the heartlands. Their strategy would have to include some basic metrics - things like player numbers, coach numbers, referee numbers, volunteer numbers etc. But they would be free to come up with some innovative solutions to problems that just don't exist in the traditional areas of the game. For example, I imagine that coaching courses are a nightmare in the south - every club too spread out to make anywhere particularly effective as a venue, lower demand than in the heartlands. One innovative solution that an RFL South could come up with is to say that, of the 4 days for a level 2 coaching qualification, 3 of them will be done online, leaving just one "in-person" day. Or even have all of the learning online, and rather than coaches meeting in a central venue, an RFL coach assessor will travel to a club and watch the coaches coach their actual team for the assessment. Additionally, if someone wanted to start a Rugby League club, or get their school playing, how clear is that process? Can you find it easily on the website, or do you have to email around before you can find out? But essentially, it always comes back to the same point - who is responsible for growing the game? Until that's nailed down, there will never be any long-lasting expansion, except by chance.
  2. It would be interesting to see if and how the Our League Active participant membership scheme is impacting upon teams' ability to get a team out in the South East.
  3. Yeah, that's why I thought a play-offs system might be better - clubs who think they can make the extras can go for it, clubs who think they'll struggle don't have to enter. Especially because some clubs will have extra success than expected and can ride that wave, and clubs that have struggled in terms of results can call it early.
  4. For a comparison, my dad took me to the 2015 RUWC final where the cheapest tickets were £150 each (if you could even get them!). I think you're right that this has to be seen as, and promoted as, a premium event. I know that as fans we like to think more about the atmosphere and "fullness" of a stadium, but as a revenue generator, 10,000 fans at £150 each is worth the same as a sell-out 30,000 fans at £50 each. My hope is that this tournament can help build a bit of a war-chest for developing Rugby League in the country. Obviously still a huge shame for people who miss out.
  5. The Southern Conference runs end of April to September, so not far off. The East division is 14 games then 3 play-off games, so it's basically what you're describing anyway, at least in and around the London area. I think the difficulty at the moment is the pathway through - the August months are probably the hardest because of school holidays etc so how does a club go from a Regional League of 3 months to a full league of 6 months? Is there a better way to bridge the gap between those? e.g. after regional leagues there's a kind of cross-South playoff system to give the strongest teams additional fixtures to see if they're ready to step up to a longer season. At the moment, it's not really about team strength, it's about ability to get that consistent team out - having a strong side in a regional league doesn't necessarily mean you're a good fit to go up to Southern Conference because of the extra games. Lastly, I think the best strategy at this stage is simply to increase the number of teams participating in regional leagues and grow the number of regional leagues as well. Once you start taking care of those things, clubs who are switched on and doing well will emerge and these longer seasons will take care of themselves. Almost need three season-lengths: June - super casual, union players trying it out, old boys, social teams, new clubs etc May - July - regional leagues, developing club, maybe takes it a bit more seriously (but doesn't have to!) April - September - Southern Conference, serious clubs who likely have embedded some proper infrastructure (own ground or leased ground, generating commercial revenue for sustainability etc) And then on top of that - how easy is it to set up a new club with the RFL? Is it clear what you should do if you want to start a club? How do you go about it? Is there any support (in terms of expertise rather than financial) available to help you grow and find appropriate fixtures?
  6. The original point was that there was never demand in Wales. The video shows that this original point is demonstrably false. If we've gone from those scenes in 1995 to 2022 is that because Welsh people genetically just can't enjoy Rugby League? Or is it because the game has been poor at capitalising on its opportunities? How many Welsh kids would have been able to find a club local to them in 1995? How many opportunities to play did the RFL create to cater for this? When England won the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup, my local rugby club had a huge and immediate uptick in membership. If England (or Wales for that matter) win the World Cup this year, how are kids outside of the Heartlands going to get involved in the sport and stay involved? Have the RFL or WRL thought about this and put anything in place? Did the RFL think about any of this back in 1995?
  7. I would go further and say that, without a comprehensive grassroots/community base underneath, a pro club will never be successful.
  8. I've always thought that the easiest thing would be to refer to the sport as "RFL" - so like people say "playing NFL" when they mean "playing American Football." People who have grown up with the sport would still call it Rugby League/League/Rugby and the acronym would still stand for those things, but the sport would "officially" call itself RFL - so when a country like Turkey asks what sport it is, the response would be "RFL." Any question of "what does it stand for?" would be answered with "That's just its name. Like NFL in America."
  9. Hold more internationals in London - in the last decade, there has been 29 England internationals hosted in England. Only 4 of them have been in London. If you ranked those games by attendance, the London games would rank 1-4. Increased attendances/interest also gives more funding to allow some of the other things below. Development officers retained in London & South. Lots of community clubs formed and then bottomed out because of lack of support. More people on the ground, coaching in schools, supporting clubs in their development = more players playing and more people being introduced to the game. Higher salary cap/funding for London teams - not only is the cost of living higher in London, but there are so many structural disadvantages to a team from outside the heartlands that it requires more money to assemble the same team. Of course, a load of traditionalists would be up in arms, suggesting it's not fair if London received more money. Generally, these people will try to deny that there's any structural inequality in the current system. HQ in London so they're more accessible to the important institutions - especially govt and media to ensure that RL interests are maintained. Even if you disagree with disproportionate funding, there are still a lot of things that could have been done to support London as a hub of RL which, in time, would have led to a bigger profile in the South of the country.
  10. Absolutely - this used to happen with the Rugby Union club I played for - a couple of club members had businesses that always needed extra workers, normally minimum wage/warehouse type stuff. If anyone needed a job, they could normally get you in within a few days so was ideal for a lot of us if we were between jobs or whatever in our late teens/early 20s. A lot of freshers get kicked out of uni accom but 2nd/3rd years, depending on the uni, tended to live off campus so were renting privately anyway.
  11. Definitely right about being outside the heartlands and not having many RL opportunities. I was lucky in that a club started in my area the year after I graduated, although it fell apart some years later. That said, I think clubs should be partnering with universities and sharing knowledge/resources to help uni teams grow and get them playing in the summer for club sides. In many ways, there's actually a bigger chance than for a lot of union teams - since the uni season is different from the club season, there's less concern about having multiple games per week. I know when I was at uni that we would've loved more involvement from a local club (not a pop at any local clubs btw - totally understand lack of resources - just think it's an easy win in terms of player recruitment).
  12. I was born and grew up on the South Coast, so Rugby League wasn't really a thing for me. I was aware of the game, but it wasn't until I went to university (Warwick 05-08) that I had the chance to play. I actually wanted to play both League and Union, but because all BUSA (now BUCS) games were on Wednesday I had to choose. The Union guys were mostly complete dickheads - things like drinking ###### and throwing up on each other etc - so I ended up with League and playing Union for clubs locally. It was great, and also led me to finding out more about the Conference Leagues, including a solitary appearance for Cov Bears in (I think) 2007. I got my first ever yellow card in either code for a professional foul, when I pulled someone's shirt when they were going for a loose ball near our try line. Some great memories at Uni as well - tour to the Czech Republic, slotting a conversion to draw our first ever 2nd team game, Shades "Snooker" club on old boys. We played a load of the other Midlands teams and we were pretty average - won some, lost some. Great group of lads though. I've done a few coaching sessions with my local university, it's a shame because their sessions are on Friday evenings so it's hard to commit. There's a lot of raw talent that could be very good with some proper coaching, including provision for S&C etc. As it stands, there's a lot of self-coaching (same when I was at uni) and little in the way of support. They've got a lot of guys who have never played rugby of either code before - these are the type player that we should be working hard to hold on to - no entrenched loyalty to a different sport. Some real talent as well, athletically. I also think League can find a real niche appealing to people who don't want the ridiculous antics of Union teams at university - something I told the League guys to include on their freshers marketing (no trials, no initiations).
  13. I'm not really a fan of the royal family as a concept, but this is positive news for the sport. As a fan of both codes, it was nice to see England internationals from both in a video together. Reminds me of a comment someone at Newcastle Thunder made in an interview about their growth - about how we should be focused on getting a rugby ball into more hands, whether it says Steeden or Gilbert on it. How the real competition isn't the other code, but inactivity and other leisure activities.
  14. Out of interest, where do you think they should be getting players from? Because teams seem to get slated if they sign all their players from the heartlands, and they get slated if they take unproven players and try and develop them.
  15. Love the Southern Conference, glad to see that the West division is growing. As someone who's only ever been involved in the sport at the community (and uni) level outside of the heartlands, it's great to have a competition for community clubs to aspire to. Not suggesting it's going to get to NCL levels any time soon, but both Wests and Chargers got through to the 2nd round of the Challenge Cup and new teams coming into the competition is promising. I know a lot is made as to whether expansion is worthwhile in the South, but a strong competitive pathway for community clubs is absolutely key to driving growth of the game, and having the SCL above the regional leagues is a key part of that. It'd be great if the RFL put more into the branding of it - since it covers essentially the whole South of England and Wales, there definitely should be some promotion behind it. The Grand Final is normally done well, think it was streamed on Twitch this year and live-tweeted etc, but during the regular season, the league tables they post on twitter look like they were done in Microsoft Word as an example. Get a new logo for it, a branded website, perhaps a consistent set of graphics for social. Professionalise the competition look and feel.
  16. I really like it. Definitely think it's something that people should try and promote unofficially if the governing body have no interest. Things like posting on your own social profiles with hashtags etc/photos of clubs etc. If enough people got into it, it could generate some interest and grow in future years. If the internationals line up again, which is always hit and miss.
  17. You can't win with some people - expansion doesn't count if it's community clubs, or it doesn't count if rugby league isn't as big as football, union or cricket, or it doesn't count unless it's a pro club, or it doesn't count unless that pro club wins cups. I imagine if you cast back far enough, there'd be a long list of clubs in the heartlands that no longer exist. No one would use that to say "rugby league in the heartlands hasn't worked." People talking like rugby league should just arrive in a new area fully formed. It's just not a level playing field. Take WWR - the nearest club with an adult team is about 35 miles away from them, which is a community club. If you looked at Rochdale as an example, there are 5 Super League clubs within the same radius. Not to mention all the Championship and NCL clubs in the area. The opportunities for a heartlands club to pick up players is at a completely different level to an expansion club, both in terms of cost but also ease. Then people will use that disparity to beat down expansion clubs and say it's failed. What does failed even mean in expansion? If there's a club there, it's expansion, no? Crazy the kind of standards people hold these relatively young organisations to without considering that the deck is massively stacked against them. BTW - this doesn't excuse WWR or any other expansion club - they knew how stacked the deck was when they started. They still have to compete regardless of how unbalanced the resources are. But to suggest that expansion has failed because WWR are underperforming, or because London Broncos haven't won Super League, or because fewer people play the sport in an area than football is just nuts. Gatekeepers gotta gatekeep I guess.
  18. Absolutely agree with you and Yorks Tim that this is the right approach, just feel that some people's worries that they might not have a strong squad this year may be overestimating how good their squad needs to be this year - so they might have a lot of local players who aren't up to League 1 standard, but that doesn't mean it's curtains for them so early in their life.
  19. This might not be a popular opinion but since there's no relegation from League 1, I don't think it necessarily matters how good Cornwall are this year on the pitch. Obviously there comes a point where they're losing too much to build supporters etc, but I think a lot of potential fans will be patient in their first season at least, especially if they can demonstrate their policy of bringing through local talent. If I was in charge, then I would be definitely targeting a 3-5 year growth plan with the intention of making the team competitive (i.e. challenging for play-offs) within that time. Any results before that would be a bonus, but the main priority would be growing off the field and developing local players and systems to ensure they've got a good feed-through for years to come.
  20. Apologies for being a massive nerd about it, but is there a ground plan for which bits go where? Really interested to see how it's all put together. Massive congratulations to the club, such a cool project and hopefully leads to increased success.
  21. Cornwall were announced 2 days ago, the other three clubs have nearly 450 years of history between them. How much value for money has been gained by giving these clubs all the money they've had over the past x number of years (since Champ/League 1 funding started)? Some people are suggesting that Cornwall shouldn't be allowed in League 1 because these clubs, who have had around 150 years each to grow themselves into sustainable businesses, might have to pay extra travel money. Not saying they deserve a kicking just for existing, but should they be the main factor when deciding what direction the game goes? If they have no ambition to grow beyond being a decent semi-pro club in their communities, should we be trying to restrict the semi-pro level to what they can manage, or should there be an aspiration to have a truly national game? Unlike football or union, there's no clubs outside the heartlands that can just grow into semi pro teams and get promoted in the same way. All the clubs have to be new or nearly new because for about 100 years of Rugby League, there was very little interest in getting RL played nationally, with a few notable exceptions (London, Wales etc). And whether we like it or not, new clubs, by definition aren't going to have the same level of infrastructure as a club who's existed for 150 years and has been in receipt of central funding.
  22. Couple of questions for people who are anti-Cornwall-in-league-1: 1. If your issue is travel for the other League 1 clubs, what league should they be in instead? 2. If your issue is that it doesn't seem well planned - what details (e.g. financial plan? business plan?) would you have to see that would convince you that it might work?
  23. I agree that none of the clubs, in an ideal world, would be dealing with less funding going forward. I think League 1 represents fantastic value for money, whereas I think SL and the Championship offer lower vfm. Part of that is because the actual cost of League 1 is so low as an overall figure. 1.875% of the previous SL TV deal if all figures are correct i.e. £750,000 for league 1 on a £40 million TV deal - for comparison, if they retained the same percentage on the lower figure, each club would receive just over £45,000 rather than the 0.8% they'd be getting IF the £20,000 per year figure is correct - which would be easier for clubs to manage and would be a proportionate decrease.
  24. Some of the League 1 clubs in the Heartlands have had around a hundred years to drive the revenues required... Coventry has been in the league since 2015, so six years as a semi-professional team which includes a year of COVID. If you don't think League 1 is worth the money it's currently costing, then just say that. Either you think that League 1 is worth the £750,000 that it's getting in central funding or you don't. Which is it?
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