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Challenge Cup Final Viewing Figures

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As a sport we can’t just throw a half baked idea together and hope that a) people turn up and watch it in person at the venue and b) it does well in terms of viewership on BBC, if they even have the rights to show a mid-season international. It’s what we’ve done before, we somehow expected people to turn up to Leigh on a Tuesday night to watch an International without any advertising or seemingly, a plan, and we always hoped that something would come of playing France mid-season for a few years but never really seemed to have a plan or purpose around those games. 

While World Cup’s are a little different because of the “prestige” of it being a World Cup, is there really an appetite for the BBC to show England ploating France or Wales in a meaningless friendly in June/July time? I think Rugby League people would struggle to be enthused by that, let alone casual fans/new fans. 

I think we have a period ahead of us now that offers the opportunity to do something different and to try our arm at new things without as big a downside if things don’t come off, given the likelihood of either no or reduced crowds for the foreseeable and that’s both domestically and especially Internationally where travel is likely to be affected for some time. 

 

Edited by Hela Wigmen

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Dave Woods made a comment on Saturday about RL`s portrayal as a Northern sport, when Kruise Leeming was born in Swaziland and Mikolaj Oledzski was born in Poland. It would be better for the prospects of international RL on the BBC if Dave had more in-depth knowledge about the game overseas, including developing nations. English Northerners born abroad will not change perceptions any more than Italian or Greek Aussies.

In off-the-field terms all our commentators and pundits come across as experts on the North of England rather than experts on RL.

It was the PNG Digicel Cup Grand Final on Sunday. One of the biggest events in the Rugby League world. How many in our media are even aware of it`s existence?

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2 minutes ago, Hela Wigmen said:

As a sport we can’t just throw a half baked idea together and hope that a) people turn up and watch it in person at the venue and b) it does well in terms of viewership on BBC, if they even have the rights to show a mid-season international. It’s what we’ve done before, we somehow expected people to turn up to Leigh on a Tuesday night to watch an International without any advertising or seemingly, a plan, and we always hoped that something would come of playing France mid-season for a few years but never really seemed to have a plan or purpose around those games. 

While World Cup’s are a little different because of the “prestige” of it being a World Cup, is there really an appetite for the BBC to show England ploating France or Wales in a meaningless friendly in June/July time? I think Rugby League people would struggle to be enthused by that, let alone casual fans/new fans. 

I think we have a period ahead of us now that offers the opportunity to do something different and to try our arm at new things without as big a downside if things don’t come off, given the likelihood of either no or reduced crowds for the foreseeable and that’s both domestically and especially Internationally where travel is likely to be affected for some time. 

 

There is interest in mid season internationals. They get mentioned a fair bit. They even get better than you expect attendances given the half-baked way they're often put together.

There is interest in terms of TV audience - in excess of that for domestic club games.

Don't set your sights on 25,000+ attendances and be realistic, and there will be benefits for the game in doing so.

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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39 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

A Tri Nations is an easy sell. Or you could even call it a European Championship.

AND RUN IT FOR A FEW YEARS BEFORE GIVING UP.

Who would be on your European tri-nations? England, France and Wales? If so it might be ok the first time as a novelty but would soon wear off when England won it comfortable every time and France beat Wales every time. It would be great if there were (at least) two or three European nations able to give England a good game but sadly I can’t see it happening. 

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4 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

There is interest in mid season internationals. They get mentioned a fair bit. They even get better than you expect attendances given the half-baked way they're often put together.

There is interest in terms of TV audience - in excess of that for domestic club games.

Don't set your sights on 25,000+ attendances and be realistic, and there will be benefits for the game in doing so.

There’s no evidence of such interest in the TV audience. We can only compare to BBC figures for tournaments or test series, which are different. 

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5 minutes ago, Eddie said:

Who would be on your European tri-nations? England, France and Wales? If so it might be ok the first time as a novelty but would soon wear off when England won it comfortable every time and France beat Wales every time. It would be great if there were (at least) two or three European nations able to give England a good game but sadly I can’t see it happening. 

This is the thing. People, myself included, have a moan about Rugby League being a three year sport but for things like this, how long do you give it? Crowds, as you allude to, would be bored after a couple of years and with games having little jeopardy, how many are going to pay £20+ to watch Groundhog Day?

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12 minutes ago, Hela Wigmen said:

There’s no evidence of such interest in the TV audience. We can only compare to BBC figures for tournaments or test series, which are different. 

 

6 minutes ago, Hela Wigmen said:

This is the thing. People, myself included, have a moan about Rugby League being a three year sport but for things like this, how long do you give it? Crowds, as you allude to, would be bored after a couple of years and with games having little jeopardy, how many are going to pay £20+ to watch Groundhog Day?

A European Championship would need to be creative, it would need to be staged in venues that are not going to see 'regular RL fans' trash the event. As RL fans we are spoilt by the quality of sport we get, so staging games like this at Leeds or St Helens won't necessarily be attractive. However, packing out York, or hitting small grounds in other developing areas, like Newcastle, Bristol etc. before you even touch on the French cities should be the aim. 

Aiming to get bustling 10k crowds in smaller grounds, decent atmospheres and having realistic aims is the way to go. We saw the BBC show a Wales v France game in Lyon(?) a few years back, and then we half-heartedly put a couple of England games on at Salford and Hull KR IIRC which pretty much killed the tournament dead. 

We can probably learn a lot from what has been done with some of the Women's football and how they have staged events and grown. 

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27 minutes ago, Dave T said:

 

We can probably learn a lot from what has been done with some of the Women's football and how they have staged events and grown. 

Women’s football isn’t popular at all, have you ever heard a single person discuss it? I haven’t, not even in our sports mad office when the women’s World Cup was on. What’s happened is that the politically correct BBC (and other media outlets) have pushed and pushed it, giving it much more exposure than it warrants; it’s almost treated as if it’s on a par with the men’s game in terms of public interest. 
 

Rugby League is quite obviously a more popular spectator sport than women’s football, yet gets 1% of the media attention. 
 

This isn’t to be disparaging of women’s football as a game or it’s players by the way. 

Edited by Eddie
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20 minutes ago, unapologetic pedant said:

It was the PNG Digicel Cup Grand Final on Sunday. One of the biggest events in the Rugby League world. How many in our media are even aware of it`s existence?

Papua New Guinea is a lot closer to Oz than England and it has zero coverage in the media as well down here.

How are we ever to expect these countries to undertake tours when we refuse to acknowledge their existence. I can understand main stream media outlets not covering these competitions but what hope do we even have of general RL fans developing an interest in them if our dedicated RL commentators and media outlets don`t at least mention them and ideally give them some coverage on important days on their calendar.

After PNG`s recent success against England it would be not hard to imagine a three match series against yourselves being almost as successful as the last Kiwi tour. On T.V. as well as attendance wise.

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A lot of good points in this thread.

One thing I take issue with is the idea that things get chopped and changed because 'the casual viewer' hasn't engaged with event x or tournament y. Actually, we usually pack in because the authorities bow to moaning by RL people (administrators, players, supporters), e.g.

'Scotland aren't a real team'

'Nobody wants to watch a blowout'

'People are only interested in Australia'

'They're not the real Lions because none of them are Welsh'

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I can confirm 30+ less sales for Scotland vs Italy at Workington, after this afternoons test purchase for the Tonga match, £7.50 is extremely reasonable, however a £2.50 'delivery' fee for a walk in purchase is beyond taking the mickey, good luck with that, it's cheaper on the telly.

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I agree there is no point doing it if it means games on a Tuesday night in Leigh. Its a waste of time and sets the tone. It is just repeating the same mistakes. I wouldn't even have any games in the heartlands due to the attitude some have already shown.

However French home games in Avignon or Toulouse have sold well in the past and would again. That should be no concern. England home games against France in London at somewhere like Brentfords new ground or QPR sells to a whole new audience without the same preconceptions. Similarly home games against Wales could be in Bristol to feed into the Anglo Welsh rivalry. If marketed and done properly, as in World Cup time, I feel they would do far better than we see in the heartlands. Wales home games at Cardiff or Swansea Football grounds rather than big standard RU grounds. All decent grounds that look decent on TV with a half decent crowd.

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12 minutes ago, Just Browny said:

A lot of good points in this thread.

One thing I take issue with is the idea that things get chopped and changed because 'the casual viewer' hasn't engaged with event x or tournament y. Actually, we usually pack in because the authorities bow to moaning by RL people (administrators, players, supporters), e.g.

'Scotland aren't a real team'

'Nobody wants to watch a blowout'

'People are only interested in Australia'

'They're not the real Lions because none of them are Welsh'

I forgot the obvious:

'10,000 Toronto fans aren't real fans because they haven't been around for long enough and wouldn't know the first thing about the '71 cup final.'

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I can confirm 30+ less sales for Scotland vs Italy at Workington, after this afternoons test purchase for the Tonga match, £7.50 is extremely reasonable, however a £2.50 'delivery' fee for a walk in purchase is beyond taking the mickey, good luck with that, it's cheaper on the telly.

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7 minutes ago, The Rocket said:

Papua New Guinea is a lot closer to Oz than England and it has zero coverage in the media as well down here.

How are we ever to expect these countries to undertake tours when we refuse to acknowledge their existence. I can understand main stream media outlets not covering these competitions but what hope do we even have of general RL fans developing an interest in them if our dedicated RL commentators and media outlets don`t at least mention them and ideally give them some coverage on important days on their calendar.

After PNG`s recent success against England it would be not hard to imagine a three match series against yourselves being almost as successful as the last Kiwi tour. On T.V. as well as attendance wise.

England should play more Internationals against PNG, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and France. These would be high quality competitive games, the same can’t be said of Wales, Scotland and Ireland sadly who should be playing each other and developing nations. Have any of them with the exception of France ever been to the UK to play England outside a World Cup? 
 

On another PNG note, Justin Olam will be the first player produced by the PNG Hunters to play in an NRL Grand Final.

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Read most of this so just chip back in then scurry away to try to understand the French RL Pyramid (anyone who knows please tell me)

1) The point of internationals is not to benefit Eng, at least not in the short term. It is to create a stable regular product that other nations can sell to sponsors and people to end up in a state where they both have 23 full time RL players who want to be in those games. To create that product, England do need to be in it. 

2) Southern Hemisphere is gone. They have their own tournament now and it works very well. They have two big teams who play smaller ones and it suits them. We in Europe need to do that together here and get on with it. If the Aussies pop over every once in a while great, but they should not be the priority. 

3) How many would tune in every week to watch Eng pump people? Not many. How many would tune in and show up just once a year to watch their nation play England? Enough for us to have a viable product. 

4) You need to book these things far enough out to give people at least 10 months to market the game, for the BBC (or FTA channel in France) to mention "don't forget , France are vs Eng on.." . For all the players in interviews to talk about how they want to be in the team etc. We would have almost whole year to promote the product. Now, we can sell out some 10-11,000 stadiums on that. 

My own view is that Challenge Cup final is a perfect day for Wales to play Jamaica (for example). France can play someone they won't face in Oct / Nov Euro Cup(in a perfect world it is Canada vs France in Quebec same day and due to time difference not a single game would clash). Wales are on at 12:30 before final at 3pm, it is in a small stadium that they sell out. Then Oct/Nov Euro Cup is four teams: 3 core teams are ones with clubs in pyramid Eng , France and Wales plus one. England play away every game except the final. So Wales vs England, sell a small stadium out. France vs England , sell a small stadium out. Whoever wins the Euro B the season before is promoted and they get to sell a small stadium out vs Eng. Final somewhere in Eng that is targeted for growth of the game. So yes, Bristol one year then we move it around. Nice 15-20,000 final seater and just stick with it. Move stadium in Eng every year. 

That's each nation getting at least four internationals a year and it will grow the game, we just need to say "well unless anyone here wants to bin it off for kick and clap, we're going to stay in this together". In 8 years, you will have a full time core of Welsh players because of it and it will make a TV deal for French Rugby League that much better. This is all very achievable and very doable. 

Edited by ShropshireBull
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3 minutes ago, ShropshireBull said:

 

1) The point of internationals is not to benefit Eng, at least not in the short term. It is to create a stable regular product that other nations can sell to sponsors and people to end up in a state where they both have 23 full time RL players who want to be in those games. To create that product, England do need to be in it. 

 

But there has to be a benefit to England for playing. 

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Just now, Hela Wigmen said:

But there has to be a benefit to England for playing. 

Well there is in a financial sense and growth of the game , competitively for a few years maybe not. If some players aren't interested , pick someone else. 

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3 minutes ago, Hela Wigmen said:

But there has to be a benefit to England for playing. 

Indeed, England aren’t going to make the players play yet another fixture in an overcrowded (for them) season in front of 1,500 people in Neath, just because it might get ten extra people to WWR’s next home game. 
 

Anyone who thinks a Wales v England rugby league international in Cardiff or Swansea would get anywhere near a five figure crowd is far off the mark presently I’m afraid. 

Edited by Eddie

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3 minutes ago, Hela Wigmen said:

But there has to be a benefit to England for playing. 

there absolutely will be. 

The England team get more time together. 

Without NRL players you get to see what the others can do

The England brand starts to build

You get FTA tv coverage and the next week Super League is back, people interested may get a sky subscription or of perhaps more direct benefit to the clubs they may go and watch their local club be that amateur or pro... which then means they may look at their kids playing etc etc etc.. 

The gains are there but they are slightly more subtle for England but they are hugely important and it is a weapon we do not use at all as any internationals are at the end of the season where there is a 4 month wait to be able to then go and see a team play.. they are likely to just look at union when then next pops up in (say) the 6 nations.. which is (whether we like it or not) a great competition.

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2 minutes ago, Eddie said:

Indeed, England aren’t going to make the players play yet another fixture in an overcrowded (for them) season in front of 1,500 people in Neath, just because it might get ten extra people to WWR’s next home game. 

Wales vs England with a year to build up would get at least 10,000 , don't be so childish. 

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2 minutes ago, Eddie said:

Indeed, England aren’t going to make the players play yet another fixture in an overcrowded (for them) season in front of 1,500 people in Neath, just because it might get ten extra people to WWR’s next home game. 
 

Anyone who thinks a Wales v England rugby league international in Cardiff or Swansea would get anywhere near a five figure crowd is far off the mark presently I’m afraid. 

highlighted the mentality issue... perhaps not presently but it is something you can build.. and if they dont release all their best players then we get to see some others play... 

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5 minutes ago, ShropshireBull said:

Wales vs England with a year to build up would get at least 10,000 , don't be so childish. 

Childish? It’s childish to think that rugby league can instantly become popular in South Wales because england decide to rock up for a game. In case you haven’t noticed rugby league isn’t a big sport in Wales. 
 

Personally I think if anyone was going to try to grow the game there then North Wales would be a better bet than South. Union isn’t so entrenched and it’s closer to the heartlands for link ups with Professional clubs. Obviously this would need private individuals to do though, as the RFL or SL can’t do it. 

Edited by Eddie

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Who said the game had to be played in the south of wales?  Last time I checked Wrexham had a perfectly big enough stadium. The point about RL in North Wales is one I have made on other threads. The problem with English Rugby League is if they can't sponge off Australia they aren't interested, it is incredibly short sighted. 

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20 minutes ago, ShropshireBull said:

Read most of this so just chip back in then scurry away to try to understand the French RL Pyramid (anyone who knows please tell me)

1) The point of internationals is not to benefit Eng, at least not in the short term. It is to create a stable regular product that other nations can sell to sponsors and people to end up in a state where they both have 23 full time RL players who want to be in those games. To create that product, England do need to be in it. 

Hi Kevin, above. 

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Just now, Sir Kevin Sinfield said:

What would the likely Welsh team be? They’d be absolutely destroyed.

We don’t even have an annual fixture against France, they can provide decent opposition.

right now yes they would.. and we have been bemoaning the issue with France for years. 

But players like Morgan Knowles may be more likely to stick their hands up for Wales if they played England and France in proper comp every year. Then it builds. With Salford linking up its a pathway. 

Yes they may get trounced but if you help them along the way things can develop. 

its not about today its about 5-10-20 years time. 

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