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RL is in the best shape it's ever been


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To add to the positivity, we should have a good World Cup ahead. Australia could name two ridiculous squads, New Zealand are always sniffing around, England should name a strong squad and Tonga still have a strong squad. Add in the likes of Fiji, PNG and Samoa, who have clusters of talent and then the likes of Scotland and Ireland, who can name relatively strong squads and the World Cup looks good.

There’s going to be a few big scores in the group stages but we should be looking at a quarter finals stage of:

Australia (Group B winners) v Lebanon/Ireland (runners up in C)

New Zealand (Group C winner) v Fiji (runners up in B)

England (Group A winners) v PNG (runners up in D)

Tonga (winners of D) v Samoa (runners up in A). 

There’s some great games there. 

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Rugby League is the 5th most popular sport in the country.  https://www.statista.com/statistics/686971/highest-attended-types-of-sport-in-the-uk/ Of course we can all just use whatever stats

I wouldn’t put a penny on the validly of RFL participation figures being correct Ive worked within multiple youth set ups, schools and the amateur game for decades and will trust the veracity of

I mentioned it elsewhere, but I feel it deserves its own thread.  Seeing as we always hear people saying the game is declining in the UK or some even go as far as to say things like "dying a slow deat

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25 minutes ago, Bedfordshire Bronco said:

Anyone over 50 might 

Sinfield/Farrell/Burrow would be more likely for younger people 

Sinfield would certainly only be known by the majority outside Rugby League to his recent exploits and Burrow sadly because of MND and the huge amount of awareness the BBC have done. I'd even doubt Farrell too as he is probably more well known these days for his work in RU than his previous life.

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In the early 1990s we were a small sport with lower crowds than now, little media coverage with poorly run clubs. 

Whenever people mention household names they mention Hanley and Offiah - two absolute legends of the game, one with a RU pedigree. 

What was different to back then? Grandstand and Rugby Union signings. 

Andy Farrell, Sam Burgess, Rob Burrow, Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield absolutely have awareness wider than the game. 

Times change, yearning for times that are distorted in the memory isn't helpful. 

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25 minutes ago, Dave T said:

In the early 1990s we were a small sport with lower crowds than now, little media coverage with poorly run clubs. 

Whenever people mention household names they mention Hanley and Offiah - two absolute legends of the game, one with a RU pedigree. 

What was different to back then? Grandstand and Rugby Union signings. 

Andy Farrell, Sam Burgess, Rob Burrow, Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield absolutely have awareness wider than the game. 

Times change, yearning for times that are distorted in the memory isn't helpful. 

I'm not sure anyone is yearning for anything, we are simply describing change.

I think it is a characteristic of all modern consumption that pretty much all sports have become more niche in the way they reach audiences.

When the choice on a Saturday was Grandstand or ITV sport you tended to watch watch you were given. When the choice of sports news was which paper's back pages you read you again consumed what you were given.

Today, almost all sports have retreated behind a pay wall of some kind and fans congregate on message boards or Facebook groups to get news. There is more sport available than ever but the volume means that people are more selective in what they consume.

I cannot name as many boxers as I could, or Rugby Union players... as I have more choice today about what content to consume and the 10 or so live Rugby League games I can see every week during the season fills up a lot of my sports consumption. 

The way we, as a sport, evolve to meet these changes on consumption will no doubt go a long way to shaping our future.

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14 minutes ago, Dunbar said:

I'm not sure anyone is yearning for anything, we are simply describing change.

I think it is a characteristic of all modern consumption that pretty much all sports have become more niche in the way they reach audiences.

When the choice on a Saturday was Grandstand or ITV sport you tended to watch watch you were given. When the choice of sports news was which paper's back pages you read you again consumed what you were given.

Today, almost all sports have retreated behind a pay wall of some kind and fans congregate on message boards or Facebook groups to get news. There is more sport available than ever but the volume means that people are more selective in what they consume.

I cannot name as many boxers as I could, or Rugby Union players... as I have more choice today about what content to consume and the 10 or so live Rugby League games I can see every week during the season fills up a lot of my sports consumption. 

The way we, as a sport, evolve to meet these changes on consumption will no doubt go a long way to shaping our future.

Agree with that, apart from the first line, people absolutely yearn for those household names to return, personally I'm not sure they were ever there. People use Hanley and Offiah as examples of how we have become invisible on a regular basis. 

I accept that's not what you are doing, but it's a regular point made here and elsewhere. 

On the terrestrial vs pay wall point, I find it interesting that RL is one of the few major sports that has always retained terrestrial live coverage of its club game. Maybe that reflects a bit of an issue that we are too focused on that rather than the international game. 

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1 hour ago, Damien said:

Sinfield would certainly only be known by the majority outside Rugby League to his recent exploits and Burrow sadly because of MND and the huge amount of awareness the BBC have done. I'd even doubt Farrell too as he is probably more well known these days for his work in RU than his previous life.

I heard something on Radio 2 in the last 7 days about a breakthrough in research in MND at (I think) Glasgow University. They mentioned Doddie Wier (being a Scot and suffering from the disease).  I'm sorry I don't have any more information but they seemed very excited about the development. So I thought I'd mention it for those who have been following Rob Burrows story. 

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1 hour ago, Dave T said:

Agree with that, apart from the first line, people absolutely yearn for those household names to return, personally I'm not sure they were ever there. People use Hanley and Offiah as examples of how we have become invisible on a regular basis. 

I accept that's not what you are doing, but it's a regular point made here and elsewhere. 

On the terrestrial vs pay wall point, I find it interesting that RL is one of the few major sports that has always retained terrestrial live coverage of its club game. Maybe that reflects a bit of an issue that we are too focused on that rather than the international game. 

Hanley and Offiah are actually a perfect example of lack of star names. They're probably still the players most likely to be known by Joe Bloggs. Yes, some sports fans will know Burgess or Farrell etc but let's be honest, it's probably down to their RU connection. 

It's not about pining for the past or rose tinted glasses, it's just acknowledging that in the past the 'famous' RL players were more famous than current 'famous' ones. Primarily due to the reasons illustrated by Dunbar but nonetheless true. 

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55 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

Hanley and Offiah are actually a perfect example of lack of star names. They're probably still the players most likely to be known by Joe Bloggs. Yes, some sports fans will know Burgess or Farrell etc but let's be honest, it's probably down to their RU connection. 

It's not about pining for the past or rose tinted glasses, it's just acknowledging that in the past the 'famous' RL players were more famous than current 'famous' ones. Primarily due to the reasons illustrated by Dunbar but nonetheless true. 

You yourself have used lack of household names now versus the likes of Hanley and Offiah as a failing of RL. 

Is it a failing of RL or is it how the sporting world has moved on? 

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21 minutes ago, Dave T said:

You yourself have used lack of household names now versus the likes of Hanley and Offiah as a failing of RL. 

Is it a failing of RL or is it how the sporting world has moved on? 

There are still famous sportspeople so I'd suggest it's a failing of RL.

I used those two because I'd heard of them when I wasn't remotely into RL - or even any sport. Whereas now I don't think someone in the same position is very unlikely to know any RL players.

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25 minutes ago, Dave T said:

You yourself have used lack of household names now versus the likes of Hanley and Offiah as a failing of RL. 

Is it a failing of RL or is it how the sporting world has moved on? 

Maybe RL hasn’t moved on with the rest of the Sporting World. 

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Just now, Johnoco said:

There are still famous sportspeople so I'd suggest it's a failing of RL.

I used those two because I'd heard of them when I wasn't remotely into RL - or even any sport. Whereas now I don't think someone in the same position is very unlikely to know any RL players.

Were you in Bradford at the time mate? 

I expect plenty of non-RL fans in Warrington, Leeds, Hull etc will have heard of famous RL players nowadays. 

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25 minutes ago, Dave T said:

You yourself have used lack of household names now versus the likes of Hanley and Offiah as a failing of RL. 

Is it a failing of RL or is it how the sporting world has moved on? 

Not addressed to me but I will answer anyway!

I think a little of both.

I have mentioned how sports consumption has changed and I think that it is a pattern across all sports that audiences are more niche so no fault or exception there for League.

But without doubt the best vehicle to raise awareness of the sport and players is internationals. Sports like cycling, hockey and RU have seen the boost you get from international success.

Our lack of focus on the international calendar is well and truly our own fault.

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4 minutes ago, Dave T said:

Were you in Bradford at the time mate? 

I expect plenty of non-RL fans in Warrington, Leeds, Hull etc will have heard of famous RL players nowadays. 

I was in Bradford yes. But I had absolutely no idea who played for them despite having a mate into RL. 

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3 minutes ago, Dunbar said:

Not addressed to me but I will answer anyway!

I think a little of both.

I have mentioned how sports consumption has changed and I think that it is a pattern across all sports that audiences are more niche so no fault or exception there for League.

But without doubt the best vehicle to raise awareness of the sport and players is internationals. Sports like cycling, hockey and RU have seen the boost you get from international success.

Our lack of focus on the international calendar is well and truly our own fault.

You won't get me disagreeing much on internationals, but we have now gone back to England being a BBC thing again, and it has been for a fair while now. 

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1 minute ago, Johnoco said:

I was in Bradford yes. But I had absolutely no idea who played for them despite having a mate into RL. 

I suppose my point is more generally that RL will get mentioned in towns with RL clubs. People talk about it, it's on TV in pubs, it makes local papers, there is an awareness. Even within those who don't follow the sport. 

Where I live now I could see no mention of RL all year if I didn't look for it. I am aware of some Scotland RU stuff though now, despite not caring about them one jot. 

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34 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I suppose my point is more generally that RL will get mentioned in towns with RL clubs. People talk about it, it's on TV in pubs, it makes local papers, there is an awareness. Even within those who don't follow the sport. 

Where I live now I could see no mention of RL all year if I didn't look for it. I am aware of some Scotland RU stuff though now, despite not caring about them one jot. 

It wasn't due to Bradford having a RL team because trust me, I was totally unaware of RL other than I had heard of it and Bradford Northern were the local team.

Put it this way, in 1987 I was working in Halifax when they won the CC. The guy who owned the firm I worked for played rugby for Halifax. I asked him if he was in the team for the cup final. He played for Halifax RU. But I genuinely didn't understand what the difference was. Or care

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On 27/01/2021 at 12:15, Dave T said:

Whenever people mention household names they mention Hanley and Offiah - two absolute legends of the game, one with a RU pedigree. 

What was different to back then? Grandstand and Rugby Union signings. 

Andy Farrell, Sam Burgess, Rob Burrow, Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield absolutely have awareness wider than the game. 

Times change, yearning for times that are distorted in the memory isn't helpful. 

....and the way the game was played, with much less emphasis on defence, and more wide open attacking play which elevated players who stood out.

i bring up RU often on the subject of household names, and do so purely to knock down the two reasons you put forward as to why there aren’t any today in RL.

RU has the same Six (Five) Nations it has always had. It has the same RUWC coverage it has always had. It has MORE club RU coverage than it’s ever had. And yet, despite all this, there is not one household RU name playing today.

So your coverage argument doesn’t wash, nor does your RU signings argument given there are no high profile players in RU today.

The difference is what I’ve bolded, the change in playing style. An Ellery Hanley highlight reel was posted on here a few weeks back. Those eye catching runs he made back then, running through non existent defences, that made him a star, could be make those same runs today? Absolutely not. Ditto Offiah, ditto Robinson.

In RU, Jonah Lomu became an overnight star when he scored four tries vs England in a tournament he lit up, could he produce those displays today? Not a chance.

England beat NZ in the last RUWC, and there was nobody from that game that stood out to write about. England reached the final, and still joe public couldn’t name an England player. The talent hasn’t changed, the way the game has.

The game that stands out for me that best sums up the change in play is the 2015 RUWC game between England and Wales. There was one line break in the whole of the first half. One. When it happened the roof almost came off the place. If an attacking player can’t stand out, he will remain anonymous to joe public.

When an individual cannot generate headlines due to the more defensive, attritional, wrestling aspect of the game, it’s impossible for them to become a household name.

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8 minutes ago, DC77 said:

....and the way the game was played, with much less emphasis on defence, and more wide open attacking play which elevated players who stood out.

If there is far more emphasis on defence in the modern game and the game was more wide open with attacking play in the 1980's, why do teams today score more points than they did in the 80's?

in 1988-89 there was an average of 19 points scored per team per game and in 2019 it was up to 23.

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I think DC77’s comments are totally fair when it comes to RU, however with RL we have been pretty defence focused since we got our butts kicked big time by the Aussies in the 1980’s, even so since then we have produced some excitingly talented players, plus as has already been highlighted, we see more points per game now than we did in the 1980’s.

Our problem is we don’t seem to know how to make our talented players into guys that get the media spotlight. Look at Tom Johnstones try scoring exploits as an example, that doesn’t seem to get promoted by the sport, something that’s essential when so much of the game is hidden behind a TV paywall. Hopefully the World Cup, which we can pretty much guarantee will have plenty of spectacular moments, such is the nature of the game, will see the organizers being able to generate plenty of positive PR for the sport, if not I just don’t know what to say!

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4 hours ago, Oldbear said:

I think DC77’s comments are totally fair when it comes to RU, however with RL we have been pretty defence focused since we got our butts kicked big time by the Aussies in the 1980’s, even so since then we have produced some excitingly talented players, plus as has already been highlighted, we see more points per game now than we did in the 1980’s.

Our problem is we don’t seem to know how to make our talented players into guys that get the media spotlight. Look at Tom Johnstones try scoring exploits as an example, that doesn’t seem to get promoted by the sport, something that’s essential when so much of the game is hidden behind a TV paywall. Hopefully the World Cup, which we can pretty much guarantee will have plenty of spectacular moments, such is the nature of the game, will see the organizers being able to generate plenty of positive PR for the sport, if not I just don’t know what to say!

As long as "our talented players" play what is perceived (by the minority out there who even know that two versions of rugby exist) as a small time down-market sport of limited interest, just how do you expect the World Cup organizers to generate plenty of positive PR for the sport?  I suggest that the perception which we both know exists has to be changed first, and for that the reality of who plays the sport and where they play it will have to be changed.

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10 hours ago, Dunbar said:

If there is far more emphasis on defence in the modern game and the game was more wide open with attacking play in the 1980's, why do teams today score more points than they did in the 80's?

in 1988-89 there was an average of 19 points scored per team per game and in 2019 it was up to 23.

Indeed, the version of RL that they watch is not the one I do. 

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