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Where do we think Rugby League will be in 5 years time?


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With all the talk about league structures, P&R v licensing, Private Equity, NRL involvement etc, I wonder what people here think about where the game of Rugby League will be in 5 years time? I’m not a doom and gloom guy so there’s no way I think the games is going to die, but on the other hand I do think that the next 5 years, and the decisions taken by the games leaders, will decide what kind of long term future we will see. So over to you forum members, where do you think the game will be in 5 years time, the same number of pro clubs, fewer or an increase? Will we end up becoming just a feeder league to RU/NRL? Will the sport retreat to the heartlands, will French clubs still be in the British structure? Is expansion over? If not then where will be the next expansion area? What about the amateur game, can the fall in playing numbers be reversed?

Overto you.

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For me when Leigh was given the 12th spot in Super League it very much summed it up for me. A competition which has no ambition and is happy to be a a M62 corridor game under the present administratio

Whoever your dealer is, tell him to send some round to ours....

For me it will be concussion which decides the future of the game. We're only at the very early stages of coming to terms with what impact this will have on both codes of rugby. I expect a seismic shi

I don't see much hope for the English game. The best you could hope for is more of the same unless there's a complete overhaul of those in leadership roles.

I think nearly everywhere else looks bright. The NRL will expand at least once to 17 teams which will hopefully pave the way for Perth or NZ 2. 

The Pacific will keep on its upward trajectory. The Americas and MEA will continue to grow through grassroots.

Not sure about Asia but hopefully they keep moving.

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5 hours ago, Pulga said:

I don't see much hope for the English game. The best you could hope for is more of the same unless there's a complete overhaul of those in leadership roles.

I think nearly everywhere else looks bright. The NRL will expand at least once to 17 teams which will hopefully pave the way for Perth or NZ 2. 

The Pacific will keep on its upward trajectory. The Americas and MEA will continue to grow through grassroots.

Not sure about Asia but hopefully they keep moving.

The death of the British game has been predicted since 1895, its still here so I don’t think it’s about to die now. My worry is that do we have the leadership to save us from a continued decline. 

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Same, or slightly better.

Refarding P&R, I hope it remains, I am a big fan. Even if it is only every two years.

France seem to be slowly getting their act together, which is exciting. Toulouse reaching SL would be perfect timing to go with it. 

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9 hours ago, Oldbear said:

With all the talk about league structures, P&R v licensing, Private Equity, NRL involvement etc, I wonder what people here think about where the game of Rugby League will be in 5 years time? I’m not a doom and gloom guy so there’s no way I think the games is going to die, but on the other hand I do think that the next 5 years, and the decisions taken by the games leaders, will decide what kind of long term future we will see. So over to you forum members, where do you think the game will be in 5 years time, the same number of pro clubs, fewer or an increase? Will we end up becoming just a feeder league to RU/NRL? Will the sport retreat to the heartlands, will French clubs still be in the British structure? Is expansion over? If not then where will be the next expansion area? What about the amateur game, can the fall in playing numbers be reversed?

Overto you.

The direction of travel at the minute is for consolidation. Unless there's some kind of outside influence what we'll see in the UK will look a lot like how it looks now although I wouldn't be surprised if we lose West Wales.

There do look to be positive steps in France so I suspect we'll see a slight strengthening of clubs there.

Possible second Brisbane team. Hopefully Tonga will continue to improve and we'll see more games and competition for PNG and Fiji.

From the outside I suspect it will all look very static.

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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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For me it will be concussion which decides the future of the game. We're only at the very early stages of coming to terms with what impact this will have on both codes of rugby. I expect a seismic shift in rules within the next five years for both codes. This could mean union looking more like league, league merging with union, or both codes adapting to new rules and retaining their own distinct identities.

Whatever happens, I think any M62 and expansion arguments could well be made redundant by player welfare concerns. It will be how the game is played rather than where the game is played.

 

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4 hours ago, Oldbear said:

The death of the British game has been predicted since 1895, its still here so I don’t think it’s about to die now. My worry is that do we have the leadership to save us from a continued decline. 

This is true (the prediction of its demise) but unfortunately this also leads to a big degree of complacency. Just because it’s always been predicted, it doesn’t mean it won’t come true one day, things do disappear and fade away however strong they were at one point or another. And so many in the game (chiefly those actually running the game) will look at a big attendance on GF night and think it’s a case of ‘nothing to see here’ and won’t/can’t see any issues. 
 

For sure, Pro RL will be still going in 5 years pretty much as we know it. But 10? 15? 20? I’m not so sure. I also think that the odd spectacular game masks a lot of issues for RL fans. The game really is pretty invisible unless you are an active fan. Way more so than the early 00’s - and it wasn’t exactly in your face then. 

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The game had a bit of a renaissance late 80s early 90s .... SL gave some initial optimism but the game stagnated and then decline.

The amateur game is on its botty and if licensing returns the game below SL will whither away fairly quickly.... (im really not wanting yet another licence debate).

I do genuinely feel the game is dying. The recent telly deal isn't encouraging 

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For me when Leigh was given the 12th spot in Super League it very much summed it up for me. A competition which has no ambition and is happy to be a a M62 corridor game under the present administration.

Little wonder that player numbers are dropping and amateur clubs are folding. No wonder clubs are finding it harder to get new sponsors on board, or even retain their present one's.

I guess will will just chug along for the foreseeable future until we have some people at the RFL who have some ambition for the game, otherwise yes we will still be going in 10 years time, but only as a part time sport

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We will still have the same issues if the power is still held by inward looking Chairmen who will still see self preservation as the way forward.

On this Forum I fervently do hope that we are on page 741 of a topic titled ‘Should Ottawa be accepted into SL after winning the Championship decider’ as it will mean there is life beyond the M62.

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7 minutes ago, Adelaide Tiger said:

We will still have the same issues if the power is still held by inward looking Chairmen who will still see self preservation as the way forward.

On this Forum I fervently do hope that we are on page 741 of a topic titled ‘Should Ottawa be accepted into SL after winning the Championship decider’ as it will mean there is life beyond the M62.

Too many people at the RFL who are insular. They have no real ambition apart from chuging along the m62 corridor

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Beyond predictions of decline, stagnation,  or otherwise, what we do know is that in 5 years time we are likely to be in a "new new" TV contract.

The next TV deal (rumoured to be 3 years long so 22-24) will have had its impact, positive or negative, hopefully a new deal will have been struck, and the game below Super League will have had half a decade without anywhere near as much Super League sourced funding as it does now. 

Dependent on an Ottawa entry, Toronto revival, Newcastle kicking on, Toulouse  coming into Super League, London having a solid home with decent support, Bradford and Widnes sorting themselves out, a Manchester team emerging (either through the Rangers or Swinton biting the bullet) amongst other issues/opportunities the game generally could be a reasonably healthy state.

One thing that will be essential in my opinion is the growth and consistency of the international game, particularly in the northern hemisphere with England leading it on the back of a successful world cup. I therefore find it most worrying that England's supposed desired warm up games are not Ireland, France, Wales, Scotland, Italy, Greece, Jamaica or Lebanon, but the Exiles and Fiji. It belies the consistent attitude at Red Hall (are they still there?) that the only games its worth England playing are against antipodeans. Given the proclivity of the Australians to do whatever they want, that surely puts us in a precarious position we need to futureproof ourselves from.

Finally, and perhaps the biggest unknown factor after the TV deal arrangements, is Private Equity. That could go several different ways and indeed not happen at all. Doubtless it will have a massive impact on the whole game.

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27 minutes ago, Hela Wigmen said:

In all seriousness, I think we’re in for a period of consolidation due to the reduced TV deal and the effects and after effects of the pandemic and that’s not a bad thing. 

Regardless of the pandemic, this would still be the approach. You know it and I know it. 

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The success of the upcoming World Cup (whenever it eventually takes place) will be critical. If it's a one horse race and Australia stroll it the game in the UK could look very different in 5 years.

Sky are beefing up their interest & coverage of American Football & Basketball. Further Super League deals down the line could be peanuts. Even Netball is catching us up regards publicity and viewer awareness.

When you add the appallingly incompetent in house Rugby League marketing that's missed out on so many golden opportunities over the years a perfect storm starts to gather.

There is a genuine risk that our clubs could haemorrhage funds with player contracts and the full time infrastructure being decimated.

An image of 2 semi pro divisions playing Sunday afternoons comes to light. Bit like the good old Winter Rugby days. 

Sky on the settee would be a distant memory Rugby League wise. No imports, no marquee players, just a few thousand speccies at the likes of Wigan & Leeds down to literally dozens at the lower end.

On the bright side BBC2 might be interested doing a live game each week and there might be some better commentators👍

Let's hope we don't drive too close to the edge 🤪

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14 minutes ago, Hela Wigmen said:

Quite possibly but I think the pandemic has heightened that further. 

I'm sure it's made things harder in many respects but it  has made the 'pull up the drawbridge' mentality easier to justify.

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16 minutes ago, Hela Wigmen said:

Quite possibly but I think the pandemic has heightened that further. 

Which is deeply problematic given the retraction of the areas funded by the game before the pandemic.

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18 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

I'm sure it's made things harder in many respects but it  has made the 'pull up the drawbridge' mentality easier to justify.

Again, quite possibly, though I’m sure anything like that would be delicately worded to make out it was for the best interests of all involved. 

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Where do we think Rugby League will be in 5 years time?

I hate posting this but with all the existential threats the game is faced with and the continuing lack of progress on the media front I believe we will have a skeleton crew of a sport at best in five years time.

 

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