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Everything posted by zylya

  1. Why don't they just do the international competition and skip the combination league?
  2. You understand what "long-term aspiration" means, right? The number of French players in their current squad would be irrelevant in 10/20/30 years, if the FFR built up Elite 1 to be a fully professional league that Catalans/Toulouse would want to join. Having a 8/10/12 team professional league in France would produce more French players than having 1 or 2 teams in Super League/Championship and a semi pro comp domestically.
  3. There's a difference between saying "I don't want French/NZ teams in Super League/NRL" which is what you're suggesting has been said and saying "I would love to see professional leagues in France and New Zealand AS WELL AS Super League/NRL" which is what I'm saying. I think it's less likely that NZ could form a fully pro league like France could, but were it possible then I absolutely would love to see that. I understand that not everyone feels the same way, but I would love to see a world of RL where the top countries have their own professional leagues. Obviously it's not a realistic prospect right now, but to me, building Elite 1 to the level where it could support Catalans and Toulouse would be far more beneficial for the game in France than having a 10 French-qualified player minimum in Super League. I also don't like the idea of some teams exempt from promotion/relegation and others not. No one is saying "stick them back in Elite 1" just that the LONG TERM goal should be a professional structure in France.
  4. I'm a bit of a purist, so I think the long-term aspiration should be to have Catalans and Toulouse eventually returned to a French pyramid that can support a professional structure in France. Obviously that's not what we have at the moment - I'm not suggesting we plonk them back into Elite 1 right now, but that's got to be the long-term aim. When they get to that stage, a Champions League style competition between the best clubs would also be good - to me that's the sort of thing that will create more interest in the sport than another set of loop fixtures!
  5. Off-topic, but have you got any links that talks about some of the stuff they did in the early days? Sounds like an amazing journey but can only find info from more recently.
  6. I think it's a great initiative - at the end of the day, Lebanon are unlikely to win the World Cup, even if they picked the absolute best squad they could. Bringing 6 domestic players into the squad means that they'll have a chance to work with, and learn from, some of the top NRL players, as well as having Michael Cheika as a coach. The experience and knowledge they'll bring back to the domestic game after the World Cup will help to drive up standards there. It also gives an incentive to the domestic players to work hard to fight for those limited number of spots. Interesting to see the talk of devaluing the competition, have read a number of posts here and elsewhere suggesting that teams full of heritage players devalue the competition. In fact, didn't a number of people claim that the Lebanese team of 2000 was a joke because it was solely made up of Australians with parents/grandparents from Lebanon? With 6 players domestically based, that means a potential squad of 18 heritage players, so it's hardly going to turn Lebanon into whipping boys - the 6 could in theory go the whole tournament without playing a game. It also means that the domestic players are hardly shutting the door on others - if you're not selecting the 19th-24th best Australian based Lebanese players, is that really a catastrophic lost for the "value of the tournament?" The biggest names and best Lebanese players will still absolutely be in the squad. Additionally, in 2017 they had Australia, England and France in their group. This year they've got New Zealand, Ireland and Jamaica. That means there's more scope to include some domestic players in there to provide them with valuable game experience without putting the result in significant jeopardy. At the end of the day the difference in playing standard set by a squad of 18+6 isn't going to be materially different to a squad of 24+0, but the upside potential is much bigger. Each country has to work out what's best for them and their own development. The likeliest outcome is that this won't get Lebanon any further, or any less far, than they would have got if the last 6 players were Australia-based. For me, an interesting parallel is looking at what some of the Rugby Union countries are doing - for example, England won't pick players who aren't playing in the Premiership, even if there are players who would be good enough for the squad playing in France. They've made a decision to potentially weaken their National Team in order to protect their domestic game. I see this being the same situation - Lebanon are well within their rights to pick whatever team they want that meets their objectives - if that includes using the World Cup to boost their domestic game, then so be it. In the long-run, if it's done well, it will make them more competitive longer term.
  7. You're literally responding to a gay man telling you that it's been a problem for him personally. He literally told you how uncomfortable it made him. Just because things are better than they used to be, it doesn't mean that problem has gone away. The thing is, if you're in a crowd of 10,000 people and one person gives you abuse (homophobic, racist, sexist or whatever) then that's going to cause the person on the receiving end to have a bad experience. I'm not trying to claim that there's a MAJORITY of homophobic, racist, sexist or whatever else people. But all it takes is one bad actor for someone to feel that this sport isn't for them. And that's not good enough. It's easy to say "well it's only 1 person in 10,000" or "it hardly ever happens" but every time it does happen, that's someone who feels rejected from our sport and it's not a position anyone should have to find themselves in.
  8. All the games are a bit far from where I live which is a shame because I'd love to be involved in some way. Good to see that it's being promoted well though.
  9. I don't think it would be anywhere near as bad as you fear - he's a well known figure and would likely get eyeballs on the Welsh team. Given his history within Rugby Union, there's years of pass, catch, run, tackle experience that transfers over. In addition, I don't think I've seen any other stories about the Welsh squad in one of the national papers! That said, if they brought him into the squad, it would likely be as a "mentor figure" like the article mentions. Yes he might play, but it's really about the effect he can have on the squad, especially if he sets high standards at training, demands a lot of the younger lads etc.
  10. Data is not the plural of anecdote. Just because you've not come across homophobia in your specific environment(s), it doesn't mean that the problem doesn't exist on a broader scale or in different environments with Rugby League. A gay man has literally just told you his own experience of homophobia. If we want the sport to be an inclusive one, and we should, then we should take the time to listen to these experiences and work out how to improve the environment rather than saying "well I've never seen it" as though that ends the discussion.
  11. Agree with everything you say here, and if they stick with the SCL then it'll become a really good competition in years to come. Just have to hope they don't decide to mess with it too much - seems to be all change in the community leagues in the South of England every 3-5 years. To my mind, keep building the brand, keep the competition going strong (things like live streaming the 2019 final and hosting it at Aldershot are all good things in my book) and let the clubs develop over time. Keep it application based but don't set the bar too high at this stage - just on things like having fulfilled their previous season's fixtures and having a club development plan. The goal shouldn't be to worry about playing strength per se, but to ensure that the clubs playing in this competition last for years to come. Have seen a lot of clubs come and go in the South, what it really needs is some long-term consistency of clubs. SCL as the pinnacle of that structure, with the regional leagues below as an environment for new clubs to develop, seems to me to be a good model at this stage.
  12. Some interesting concepts, some other stuff not really workable. However, if it pushes the IRL into some discussion and they actually start doing some of this stuff then great.
  13. I did say WANT to support I agree with you completely - it's a #######how at the moment. My point was more that if they did put together a plan for regular International Competition, I would definitely get on board with it. I also think playing the Exiles is a terrible idea. I also think it's such a Rugby League thing that this team is called "The Exiles" rather than getting across the message that this is essentially the best players in the Super League that are not playing for England.
  14. New Zealand Rugby Union have the highest winning percentage of any professional team across all sports in history and are one of the biggest sports brands going. This idea that winning all the time is bad for business just doesn't hold up. As you say - even if England are likely to beat Wales 9/10 times there's still lots of highlights to come out of these games, plus the story of Wales and France improving year on year etc. Imagine the feeling when they finally do pick up that high profile win. Plus, sitting around hoping that France or Wales are going to magically get good enough to beat England by not playing them just doesn't make sense.
  15. Thanks for this, there are some good points in there and things I hadn't thought much of - you're definitely right that Super League, as its own brand, needs pushing. To clarify, I'm from the South (about 2 hours away from London) and have lived here all my life, except for Uni which is where I took up Rugby League and I've played (on and off as availability allows) for the last 15 years now. I find it hard to identify with any of the Super League teams (even Broncos when they were in) because they're all so far away and there's no clear "branding" that would appeal to me - your example of St Pauli is a really good one of a club that goes beyond its physical location. Because I've never lived in Heartland areas, there's no real culture to support being a rugby league fan here - very few pubs even show Super League or Challenge Cup unless you ask them to put it on (and there's nothing else that's more important on!). As you point out, it's very difficult to be a fan purely online - if there's no way of following regularly then that emotional link is much weaker, if not non-existant. I'm convinced that, with the appropriate access to games, that you could build small "fan-zones" in these cities - a sort of community of fans based around the watching of Rugby League. It's interesting to me, because I read a lot about how the Premier League is expanding round the world, about how the NFL is pushing themselves out of the US and even how WWE (despite not being a real sport) has been on a programme of "global localisation" built on a combination of accessible technology and strategic hosting of live events in growth countries. It's not that Super League needs to start hosting tons of games in China or the States, but there does have to be some sort of effort to push the boundaries further than its small footprint. Funnily enough, I think the Magic Weekend is a really good idea to push that interest elsewhere, but even that isn't immune to criticism - some questionning the point of taking the game to a city outside the Heartlands, as though no one has ever moved from the North to London. Oh and, for me, the team that I MOST want to support is England. I know that a lot of long-time Super League fans don't care much about the national team, but there are lots of people that would be interested in an England team playing regularly. The World Cup is much more on my radar than the coming Super League season.
  16. You're essentially suggesting that Super League clubs spend more time thinking about their "customer persona" and I think you're right - I'd be surprised if many (or any) of the Super League clubs had a good idea who their target audience really is. However, given that Rugby clubs are traditionally very rooted in their communities, it becomes very difficult to separate the geographically-specific part out of the club's offer. For example, I'm based in the South of England and right now, despite being someone who works in marketing (relevant only in as much as I like to think about marketing concepts such as these) and has a long involvement in RL, I can't think of a way that any of the Super League teams could attract me as a paying fan. I'm not even really that keen on London, which is the closest professional team to me. What kind of things do you think would allow Super League clubs to expand their reach? And if it's not based on geography, but instead some other consumer characteristics - what do you imagine those characteristics would be?
  17. Again, I've never seen any actual research on the effect of a blackout or lack of blackout on attendances - it may be out there but it's not something I've looked for. Would be interested in seeing the data. That said, there's a big difference between instituting a specific blackout time and suggesting that streaming all the games would cause the demise of the game, which is what the previous poster was suggesting.
  18. I'd love to see some data that shows it either way - I rather suspect your doom and gloom prediction wouldn't be borne out by the numbers. It shouldn't have to be said (although maybe for Rugby League at the moment it does need to be said) that market research and consumer analysis has to happen BEFORE making changes. There will likely be some optimum point where streaming will boost attendances rather than ruin them. That said, live Super League attendances have trended downwards for the last four years (excluding the 2020 season). Attendances are already dropping - it's not going to be good enough to sit tight and hope for the best.
  19. I didn't clarify well enough in my initial post, but my comments were more aimed at what RL should do AFTER the pandemic is over and people are back in stadia. Obviously it's a bit different at the moment, and streaming is a way to minimise losses, but going forward, especially with the apparent lack of a TV deal for Champ/League 1, there should be some research done into how they can build a streaming platform going forward. I did a post in a different topic about a model that combined a paid membership with a certain number of games per round provided free. The free games would be to get new fans interested in the product and be easily shareable, the paid content (through something like OurLeague) would be the revenue generation. As I said, it'd take a few years to build it up to a good level - which is why the current streaming ideas won't be as effective as people are hoping.
  20. I think this highlights some of the common Rugby League complaints - namely a lack of strategic thinking and planning. I read the article and I agree that streaming isn't a magical solution to remove the problems of the pandemic, nor is it a golden goose that's going to make Champ and League 1 clubs flush with cash. Instead, it has to be seen as a growth project - especially if regular TV networks aren't interested in picking it up. If they wanted streaming to be a viable substitute to live attendance for the pandemic, then unfortunately they should have started around 3 years ago - the OurLeague app isn't amazing and there are questions around its ability to handle multiple concurrent streams - that's the sort of thing that has to be ironed out (but takes time to do so). However, there's no reason why they can't start NOW to build a streaming offer for the longer-term. I don't believe PPV is the best model - you only have to look at the subscription models that most services are starting to favour. Offering a monthly membership or season pass for the whole Championship and/or League 1 would be a good option. However, the growth won't happen overnight. That said, over a few years with a reasonable price and building subscribers you could get to a point where it will complement gate receipts, but not be a total replacement for them. The truth is that the diehard fans are very unlikely to start watching the games at home instead of at the stadium, but this opens up the opportunity for people who can't make every game or live away (or even want to watch the game then live then watch the replay later). It'll also hopefully increase the value of sponsorship - especially if the technology is improved so that, instead of just looking at the advertising boards, you've got live links on the stream to the various sponsors, leading to higher conversion rates.
  21. Whether you do creeping expansion or not, think it's outside the remit of the RFL to build professional clubs. Instead, they should be laying the groundwork for RL in a particular area, so tasks such as: Market Research into the local area to identify RL demand & opportunities Coaches into local schools + festivals for those schools to compete against each other, plus teacher training Some sort of "Club Starter Kit" with some equipment (balls, cones, bibs etc) + targeted support (volunteer training, best practice guides, mentoring by RFL staff) to enable people to start setting up their own clubs, especially at junior level Plans should be made on a 5-10 year cycle per region. Part of the initial market research should be assessing population levels etc with the aim of creating 4-6 team leagues so that clubs can grow at the same time without much travel. Any club that starts up and has to travel more than an hour or so for all of its fixtures is eventually going to struggle. By the time the programme comes to an end, RL in that region should be (mostly) self-sustainable. If people then wanted to invest resources (whether time or money) into creating a club that could go for League 1, then you've got a local area that has a number of people involved in RL, therefore a potential fanbase, but also a potential feed of players. However, even if no club wanted to make the move up to the professional game, you'd still have introduced the sport to a new area in a sustainable fashion. The current expansion plan seems to be "plonk a professional team down somewhere (wherever the money man wants it) and hope for the best." I listened to the podcast with Cornish Rebels though and they seem to have some of the right ideas. I think Community Clubs outside the heartlands with an aspiration of playing in League 1 need to see it as a 10-15 year project to get to the level required. Not so much because of players - after all, anyone with some money could assemble a decent-enough squad, but in terms of infrastructure to ensure that club survives for the long-term.
  22. The Championship has 189 regular season games and 6 playoff games for a total of 195 games. At £1250 per game, you're looking at less than £250k to film/broadcast every single game (£243,750 to be precise). Now, depending on how you look at it, you have several choices. I want to put aside the issue of the pandemic - so imagine that this is for the 2022 season so there's no "we have to give something for season ticket holders" angle. 1. Swallow the £250k as a marketing cost and make these games available on OurLeague. If you go down this route, it's probably also worth having some available as Facebook Live & YouTube Live streams to increase the reach - complete free to air. This will (hopefully) help you get eyeballs on the product, as well as drive signups to the OurLeague app. 2. Charge a membership fee for OurLeague coverage. At £3 per month (not entirely unreasonable, especially if you're a fan of one of the Championship Clubs) and therefore £36/year then you'd be looking at 6,771 people needed to break even - or if you look at it in terms of clubs, just under 500 supporters per club - this obviously assuming that you can't get any neutrals or casual fans interested. If you offer a free one-month trial, you'd need 7387 members (at £33 per year) but you might get more people to sign up than if you don't have a free trial. If you had a one-off payment of £40 for the whole season (rather than a monthly fee) then you'd need just over 6000 subscribers to break even. 3. At £1250 per game, you'd need 125 people per game at £10 each or 250 people per game at £5 each or 500 people per game at £2.50 each etc to break even over the course of the season. 4. Some combination of the above - perhaps a monthly membership or one-off season fee but with one game per round broadcast on YouTube or a free version on OurLeague. Another thought - you could also have a "playoff pass" where you could get access to all the playoff games toward the end of the season, so if you're interested in the business end of the season, you've got that option. Say, £15 for the 6 playoff games, since you're hoping they'd be the most exciting part of the season. For what it's worth, in terms of numbers, Championship had an average attendance of 2489 in 2019 and 1899 in 2018. So none of the numbers presented in terms of minimum subscribers are completely unreasonable. Now, before you start down that path, you'd need to decide which was more important - whether getting eyes on the product is the most important (in which case as much of it needs to be as free as possible) or whether generating revenue to cover the costs is the most important. In truth, you'd probably look to strike some sort of a balance - making sure that you had enough free content, especially on the major social platforms, to draw new people in. Having all of this video content would also allow the creation of highlights packages that clubs could use on their own social media. I know a lot of these already exist, but you're just trying to drive the maximum value from the content as possible. Even if you assigned £33,750 as marketing budget for free games, you could show one game per round for free and charge for all the rest, including every playoff game, recouping most of the money (and even turning a profit if you got more than the break-even points above). The number of people who could feasibly travel to a game is going to be a lot smaller than the reach that online streaming could have. For example, people who have moved away from the area for work or to another country but still have a love for their club are rarely, if ever, going to attend a game physically. But a £40 ticket to see their team play every game? You might get a customer there, and they're re-engaged in the game. Featherstone went over to Valencia a couple of years ago and made a good impression there - I wonder if anyone in Valencia might want to watch a few of their games. For that matter, loads of new countries are taking up Rugby League - imagine a cheap streaming service for (nearly) top flight RL for players and supporters in countries across Europe. A chance to see a higher level might be something they'd really go for, especially if there is little to no coverage of RL in their country. Likewise, the chance to create new fans and thereby increase merchandise sales etc is another potential upside, especially if clubs work on marketing their fixtures as well. So it wouldn't have to be limited to the existing Championship fans. Having more viewers would also likely increase the value of sponsorship across the Championship. I'm not suggesting that this is a magic fix - all my numbers are "back of a fag packet" but it's got to be worth looking into, right? Even if you did a limited test run for a season - just film one game per round, show some free on OurLeague and some on Facebook/YouTube/Twitch and see what kind of viewership you get. You'd then be able to iron out any kinks and ensure that it had a positive net benefit (since I know someone is going to ask about the impact on live attendance...) EDIT - just to satisfy my own curiosity, I had a check and in the 2019 RFL report, they say that have 130k members on OurLeague, which would mean around 5.2% of members signing up for the Premium version at £3/month would break even on the Championship. Also, the 2019 turnover was £22million so the £250k figure would represent 1% of turnover, so not an insignificant amount of money, but not a disproportionately large risk either.
  23. The format this year means that Championship and League 1 sides will play for 4 spots in the round of 16 with the 12 Super League clubs. There's no way for more than four to get past there - those 4 teams will then also be semi-finallists for the 1895.
  24. I'm so happy that it's a simple format. I REALLY hated the 14 team format. One thing that they could have done, rather than a separate emerging nations, is just rankings games. So the top 2 from each group go into a Quarter Final, and the bottom 2 from each group go into a separate set of Quarter Finals. If you did winners vs winners and losers vs losers from each round you could actually have a final ranking for the World Cup (1-16). It would mean that the emerging nations would get extra games in a system where quality games are hard to come by, as well as allowing the weaker teams more of a chance to play against teams of a similar level - e.g. Greece probably going to take three losses in their group, but might be more competitive against the other 4th seeded teams. Seeding means that groups will always have strong and weak teams, a ranking series could allow more competitive games at all levels as the WC goes on. But to be honest, as long as they're rid of the 14 team format I'm happy and excited for the tournament!
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