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Politics of English Rugby League


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2 hours ago, Dave T said:

I suppose it depends on how you want to define market - but it's not unreasonable to include numbers for population within 30/60* mins travel of a SL club as your potential market.

*set the limit as appropriate

But the 15m is still a fantasy number, it doesn't really mean anything as there is no detail demographic in the slightest.

There does need to be an element of realism about what the ultimate aim is - RL is never going to be a sport that looks like Football - for many reasons. But at the top club level it looks relatively similar to cricket and rugby union (to a casual person coming across a game on TV). Top flight RU is as irrelevant to me as RL is to somebody living in Leicester.

The huge difference these sports have is grassroots presence and internationals. I'm afraid we are messing around in the middle ground with all talk about restructures of the club game. We should be aiming for our clubs to be stronger, more fans, more sponsors etc. all the good stuff, but that doesn't need to be driven by going for huge city teams and all the other radical things we talk about. 

as many have said one of the key weakness is a real high level marketing organisation, real as in all the essential elements of a marketing organisation with funding to get the right people and to do their job. Yes its a case of setting that as a priority and hence enabling funding

Then with a "proper" CEO using the leverage of that marketing organisation to take the sport/clubs  along with them...

of course easier said then done... 

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2 hours ago, Dave T said:

I suppose it depends on how you want to define market - but it's not unreasonable to include numbers for population within 30/60* mins travel of a SL club as your potential market.

Why limit it to that? 

There seems to be a mindset that a fan or follower of rugby league is only worth something to us if they're clicking through a turnstile. We've got so many ways to reach, build and monetise an audience that the game doesn't seem to be focusing on, but these ways make the whole issue of geography pretty much redundant. 

Someone watching at home on Sky Sports is someone that RL is reaching and making part of their audience. Someone watching 'try of the month' on YouTube is part of the RL audience. Someone liking Konrad Hurrell's Instagram posts is part of the RL audience. 

But as the second part of your post rightly says, who does the game - the governing body and, just as importantly, the clubs - want that audience to be. Do they want it to be younger? Do they want it to be more diverse? Do they want it to be more affluent? Or do they just want it to be the same people who we keep selling to, and the same audience that we keep selling to sponsors and broadcasters? Because without answering that question, the sport can't develop what it offers to reach them. Simply taking what we already offer the market to new cities is the wrong way to approach it. 

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19 hours ago, Man of Kent said:

Well, when I’ve been to the Halliwell Jones - and the pubs in Warrington - I’ve always been struck by the number of young women (let alone men) in primose and blue. 

I think the key is to embrace the sport’s Northernness without looking back to the past and banging on about the Labour Party & dead industries like coal and steel. I’m sure it can be done. 

The bottom line is, that we are in decline. We have a smaller presence in the minds of modern society than we ever have, even for those who know we exist.   Being a niche sport for a few run-down Northern towns isn't going to help us survive.   Have a look at the sponsors, the presence on TV (even by the broadcaster with all the rights - they don't even advertise us as a main event), newspapers, online, declining crowds... the list goes on and it all points to a slow death.   Of course it may well be that the ones of us who want the sport to take a different direction may be in the minority, in which case we don't own it so have no rights to demand such a change.   I feel it's sad though, because RL its a great game to watch and could be so much more, like it has become down under. 

Edited by Cheshire Setter
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8 minutes ago, Cheshire Setter said:

The bottom line is, that we are in decline. We have a smaller presence in the minds of modern society than we ever have, even for those who know we exist.   Being a niche sport for a few run-down Northern towns isn't going to help us survive.   Have a look at the sponsors, the presence on TV (even by the broadcaster with all the rights - they don't even advertise us as a main event), newspapers, online, declining crowds... the list goes on and it all points to a slow death.   Of course it may well be that the ones of us who want the sport to take a different direction may be in the minority, in which case we don't own it so have no rights to demand such a change.   I feel it's sad though, because RL its a great game to watch and could be so much more, like it has become down under. 

I'm not denying the game has issues, I just reject suggestions that the answer is to chuck away its strengths in a misguided attempt to address its weaknesses.

Besides, there's plenty of "run-down Northern towns" who have successful football clubs - eg Burnley, Blackburn, Barnsley - that attract good crowds.

I suppose the trick is to attract people along to watch (1) in person - and that's where the densely populated, well connected M62 corridor (and other motorways) in Northern England is a distinct advantage....

and (2) on TV. If it happens, having terrestrial coverage on the BBC (or whoever) will make sponsorship more attractive.

Don't underestimate the effect of internationals/World Cup on the Beeb (leaving aside whether our Antipodean cousins can be bothered to play or not) in terms of attracting new fans and sponsors too.

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3 minutes ago, Man of Kent said:

Don't underestimate the effect of internationals/World Cup on the Beeb (leaving aside whether our Antipodean cousins can be bothered to play or not) in terms of attracting new fans and sponsors too.

I agree this is an essential component of the plan. Unfortunately I also know that our Antipodean cousins have pretty much shown their colours on that issue with the current World Cup debacle. 

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19 minutes ago, Cheshire Setter said:

I agree this is an essential component of the plan. Unfortunately I also know that our Antipodean cousins have pretty much shown their colours on that issue with the current World Cup debacle. 

Forgot to add earlier that I believe facilities are an important factor in dragging rugby league into the 21st century.

Your club, Warrington, has a belting ground and crowds are generally very good. Others, like Wakefield, are frankly an embarrassment.

I believe that - as with virtually any business, eg a pub or restaurant - is if you offer people decent facilities they will come along and spend their money.   

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1 hour ago, Man of Kent said:

Forgot to add earlier that I believe facilities are an important factor in dragging rugby league into the 21st century.

Your club, Warrington, has a belting ground and crowds are generally very good. Others, like Wakefield, are frankly an embarrassment.

I believe that - as with virtually any business, eg a pub or restaurant - is if you offer people decent facilities they will come along and spend their money.   

SL does in general have excellent facilities. The vast majority of games we see on TV are played in great modern grounds - Wigan, Leeds, Hull, Saints, Wire, Hudds, Salford, Catalans and Leigh. 

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2 hours ago, Man of Kent said:

Besides, there's plenty of "run-down Northern towns" who have successful football clubs - eg Burnley, Blackburn, Barnsley - that attract good crowds.

That’s true… but they are part of a national sport/competition with big cities too. That’s why we need a proper national elite league like in the original suggestion.

We, as ever missed a trick with the new womens leagues. This was an ideal chance to really try and test regional teams and not just duplicate the northern clubs. I acknowledge there are hints at this with the Welsh team. However, even the names of the leagues give away where the power and politics lie in our game eg with the clubs as always…  in the north it’s just the Women’s Super League and then we have the Women’s Super League South who have to put the region on there to almost apologise that it’s not the ‘real thing’.

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59 minutes ago, Dave T said:

SL does in general have excellent facilities. The vast majority of games we see on TV are played in great modern grounds - Wigan, Leeds, Hull, Saints, Wire, Hudds, Salford, Catalans and Leigh. 

There's a paradox there though... sure I've written this a thousand times before...

  • great grounds look good on TV, but not if they're so big that it's a sea of empty seats. Because *then* it looks like no one wants to watch it. And that's worse when it's a football ground, even if the RL club has a stake in the ownership, because your average TV viewer is not going to either know that or be bothered to find it out.
  • the best atmosphere in SL to be there and experience is a full Wheldon Road with Cas winning. And I'm not even a Cas fan

And it's the same in RU - if you want atmosphere (in person or to see on the TV) you go to Kingsholm, the Rec or the Stoop (full houses, 2 inches from the pitch, etc) - not Ashton Gate or the Ricoh Arena.

Ideally, teams should be playing in great modern grounds that they fill, or at least try to fill.

Edited by iffleyox
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41 minutes ago, iffleyox said:

There's a paradox there though... sure I've written this a thousand times before...

  • great grounds look good on TV, but not if they're so big that it's a sea of empty seats. Because *then* it looks like no one wants to watch it. And that's worse when it's a football ground, even if the RL club has a stake in the ownership, because your average TV viewer is not going to either know that or be bothered to find it out.
  • the best atmosphere in SL to be there and experience is a full Wheldon Road with Cas winning. And I'm not even a Cas fan

And it's the same in RU - if you want atmosphere (in person or to see on the TV) you go to Kingsholm, the Rec or the Stoop (full houses, 2 inches from the pitch, etc) - not Ashton Gate or the Ricoh Arena.

Ideally, teams should be playing in great modern grounds that they fill, or at least try to fill.

This is all totally true, especially the size thing. A game at Wheldon Road is much more appealing visually to the passing tv viewer than one at say Huddersfield. Which is why one of the criteria of the original Super League licences was % of stadium capacity used alongside the simple modern stadium test.

The only ground in Super League with no real redeeming features is Wakey. All the others are appealing to fans in one way or another. And some (ok three, maybe four if we include Hull KR) even hit the jackpot of being modern, being the right size and having an atmosphere which appeals to fans.

 

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10 hours ago, glemiln said:

Sir Lindsay Hoyle steps in....

"We're not the top game in this country, but we do have the best game in this country. So how do we get that higher level of support and higher level of commitment?

"Let's listen to different people. Let's get different people focusing, putting their mind to it, and coming out with the best ideas."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/57733743

 

He's a hoot!  I couldn't believe my ears when he said, "Land Rover Jaguar, why aren't they part of it?"  Seriously????

The likes of them aren't interested because a small-time regional sport primarily played in run down northern towns has no appeal to the demographics which are their target market.  The answer to his question which you quoted above is that RL has to cease being that small-time regional sport primarily played in run down northern towns and become something which does appeal to he demographics which those high status sponsors want to reach.

Unfortunately making that happen is beyond the ability of anyone currently involved in the game, the NRL included.

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On 07/07/2021 at 12:09, glemiln said:

Sir Lindsay Hoyle steps in....

"We're not the top game in this country, but we do have the best game in this country. So how do we get that higher level of support and higher level of commitment?

"Let's listen to different people. Let's get different people focusing, putting their mind to it, and coming out with the best ideas."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/57733743

 

I agree with a lot of what he said, but I don't understand the need to declare that it's the best game in this country. Likewise when others talk about it being the "the greatest game in the world". 

To me it just comes across as deluded and somewhat condescending - as though the rest of the country must be idiots for not also being in love with the "best game".

Surely it's possible to be positive about the sport without needing to claim superiority over all others?

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Throughout our history many of our clubs have appeared moribund, only for people to emerge from the woodwork when they realised what they might be losing.

The past 18 months could have broken the cycle of inveterate negativity. When a line can effectively be drawn under Covid, there might be more optimism and a revival of interest in many parts. The past 126 years have demonstrated there`s plenty of resilience in English RL.

Intrinsically this wouldn`t make our incumbent administration any more qualified to take the game forward, but it would give them the scope to make good strategic decisions if they have the wit.

Measures like streamlining the English pro game, while augmenting it with greater French involvement. Investing in non-contact forms across the UK to build awareness and a stronger club network, and grow the fanbase via participation. More amateur and junior tours to developing nations.

And improving the social media operation. Where there`s growth and embryonic competitions outside the heartlands, it must be happening word-of-mouth, which these days largely means digitally, rather than through traditional media.

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On 07/07/2021 at 09:21, sweaty craiq said:

Union tends to follow the RFU licking Universities and Public Schools. The money available for coaches and teams at all universities I am aware of is massively RU focused, please anyone who knows any different let me know.

15M is a huge market, its bigger than NSW and Brisbane combined!!!! and would provide a great base to grow FROM once maximised

Indeed, it's bigger than NSW & all Queensland combined, not just Brisbane, and condensed into a tiny area (Northern England) compared to those two gigantic (by area) Australian States. So many times more cheaper and easier for logistics. 

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On 07/07/2021 at 22:22, Big Picture said:

He's a hoot!  I couldn't believe my ears when he said, "Land Rover Jaguar, why aren't they part of it?"  Seriously????

The likes of them aren't interested because a small-time regional sport primarily played in run down northern towns has no appeal to the demographics which are their target market.  The answer to his question which you quoted above is that RL has to cease being that small-time regional sport primarily played in run down northern towns and become something which does appeal to he demographics which those high status sponsors want to reach.

Unfortunately making that happen is beyond the ability of anyone currently involved in the game, the NRL included.

I tend to agree but do wonder if within our populations of those northern towns/boroughs/city we do have the sort of demographics.  Their are many Land Rover Jaguar plus Mercedes, BMW, and Audi's motors driving around - maybe more than other makes in the town I live.  Only a few miles from Headingley.

Surely similar if not same to the same amount in some other clubs area's.

So of course first step is to try and broaden our demographic but not all of the area's are totally run down. 

 

Edited by redjonn
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48 minutes ago, redjonn said:

I tend to agree but do wonder if within our populations of those northern towns/boroughs/city we do have the sort of demographics.  Their are many Land Rover Jaguar plus Mercedes, BMW, and Audi's motors driving around - maybe more than other makes in the town I live.  Only a few miles from Headingley.

Surely similar if not same to the same amount in some other clubs area's.

So of course first step is to try and broaden our demographic but not all of the area's are totally run down. 

 

Totally agree but have you ever had a look at the car parks at Worcester or even  Salford on an RU match day ?

Car thief's dream.......

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1 hour ago, redjonn said:

I tend to agree but do wonder if within our populations of those northern towns/boroughs/city we do have the sort of demographics.  Their are many Land Rover Jaguar plus Mercedes, BMW, and Audi's motors driving around - maybe more than other makes in the town I live.  Only a few miles from Headingley.

Surely similar if not same to the same amount in some other clubs area's.

So of course first step is to try and broaden our demographic but not all of the area's are totally run down. 

 

The problem is that you can't get them interested in RL without it ceasing to be the low budget small time regional game which it is today, because that run-down image is bound to put them off.

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1 minute ago, Big Picture said:

The problem is that you can't get them interested in RL without it ceasing to be the low budget small time regional game which it is today, because that run-down image is bound to put them off.

agreed but then its about how we approach the situation if trying to change our demographic.  Leeds is probably not the best example but their hospitality area's are full of the "better off" demographic (for want of better words).  I guess Leeds invested in the area's to attract that bigger spending population.

As I say I agree but I'm not sure we collectively as a sport really try or invest or try and understand to attract a broader demographic to increase our sponsorship profile.

 

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4 hours ago, redjonn said:

I tend to agree but do wonder if within our populations of those northern towns/boroughs/city we do have the sort of demographics.  Their are many Land Rover Jaguar plus Mercedes, BMW, and Audi's motors driving around - maybe more than other makes in the town I live.  Only a few miles from Headingley.

Surely similar if not same to the same amount in some other clubs area's.

So of course first step is to try and broaden our demographic but not all of the area's are totally run down. 

 

There is no point. Being offensive about existing RL fans/towns is championed. 

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