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2 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

Agree with you mostly but I don't think the point @unapologetic pedant made is a minor bugbear. It has the potential to ruin the game if the refs are blowing non stop for perceived errors that ultimately only serve to stifle creative attacking play. We will actually end up with the 'five drives and a kick' that others lampoon us for. 

I ask this as a genuine Q because I can't immediately find the data: is there any evidence that the game has more stoppages and/or more calls for penalties/handling errors like knock ons now than previously?

Actual stats and the like.

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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1 hour ago, Dave T said:

Yes. 

I don't fully agree with the BBC point though. We have decent coverage on the BBC. We have regular cup games and all England Test matches are shown on the BBC. We should try and stay away from the likes of Amazon (unless we create new content for big money). The Autumn internationals in RU are very easy to ignore nowadays and I think RU will regret their choice of Amazon for these. 

Post-covid if we can get cup games on BBC, then regular internationals every year, then 10 SL games on terrestrial TV, we will be doing very well. 

We maybe get around 80k people going to matches on a good week. On Sky we can get 400k to watch two games a week, and on BBC we get maybe 750k to 1m on Cup games and up to 2m for internationals. Chasing those high end figures is clearly the right thing to do. 

The way to do that isn't by focusing on knock on interpretations. 

I was trying to say that I was welcoming the BBC coverage but feel we need to give them more through a more extensive programme of internationals.  Othewise,  any schedule gaps will be filled from other sports with more regular and frequent internationals.  Not the biggest fan of BBC as an organisation, but their coverage of our sport in recent years is far better than during the Eddie Waring days.  Sky remains the platform of choice for UK NRL and SL viewers who are in effect bankrolling our club game. And yes, stay away from Amazon. I'm a Prime subscriber but bringing them in will not in my view create more fans.

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18 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

I ask this as a genuine Q because I can't immediately find the data: is there any evidence that the game has more stoppages and/or more calls for penalties/handling errors like knock ons now than previously?

Actual stats and the like.

Not from me as I am purely working from my own experience. I've seen many games where I think 'FFS just let it go.' and I've also watched games with other people who find the reffing a bit nit picking. This isn't especially a dig at the refs, I'm sure they are working to directives. 

It's a bit like the recent disallowed try for France in the England game. I'm sure someone can (and probably will) produce a rule book to prove that it was a genuine obstruction. But my argument was that it had no bearing on the try being scored and ultimately only resulted in France losing impetus. And thus another defeat. 

I don't think we should disregard the rules..... I just think there is a danger of RL being too pedantic for the sake of 'following the rules'. Which may be harsh but there it is.

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47 minutes ago, Dave T said:

And that brings us back to the whole point of the thread, and is possibly one of the perfect examples of why the sport is not more popular. 

This thread was about marketing the product, how we package it better, sell it better, engage with fans better. And it has turned into existing RL fans discussing their minor bugbears with the sport. And I think this is where the sport has gone wrong. We think the most important thing is the stuff that happens on the field, when it is pretty clearly established that it isn't the most important thing. 

The reason that in a town like Warrington 10k turn out on a Friday night to watch RL but in London it is 500 isn't due to knock ons, or blowing up for forward passes. 

On your first point, I don't disagree about repetion being boring, but it is a prominent feature of all sports. Football, Netball, boxing, basketball, cricket, RU, motor racing, it's all based around repetion - it is how that repetition is punctured with moments of skill, scores, controversy, and imho RL rates very highly versus most (all imo) other sports. 

Agree.  Its not about what  a minority ( in my view) of exsisting fans like or dislike about the game. Its about attracting casual viewers, converting them and then retaining them. 

Two mind games:

1. Think on this - Put yourself in the position of a casual and potential newbie. Were games played in empty stadiums during full lockdown more or less boring than those played in front of crowds? 

2. How do casual TV viewers new to the game decide if a game is going to be or already is boring ot not? n my view its back to the wallpaper - the game build up, the pre-match punditry, the jeopardy,  the rivalry, societal impact ( schools, community programmes, amateur clubs with stories etc.)

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1 hour ago, JohnM said:

How do casual TV viewers new to the game decide if a game is going to be or already is boring ot not? n my view its back to the wallpaper - the game build up, the pre-match punditry, the jeopardy,  the rivalry, societal impact ( schools, community programmes, amateur clubs with stories etc.)

Agree with all of this  Just a minor point, but I think we also need to look at reasons for casual viewers to turn on, as opposed to not turn off. I may be wrong, but I suspect the motivations for these two courses of action are slightly different. What is going to excite people enough to get them to engage in the first place? For me, it's going to need a fairly drastic change of approach in order for SL to have greater relevance with the wider public.

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3 hours ago, Dave T said:

And that brings us back to the whole point of the thread, and is possibly one of the perfect examples of why the sport is not more popular. 

This thread was about marketing the product, how we package it better, sell it better, engage with fans better. And it has turned into existing RL fans discussing their minor bugbears with the sport. And I think this is where the sport has gone wrong. We think the most important thing is the stuff that happens on the field, when it is pretty clearly established that it isn't the most important thing. 

The reason that in a town like Warrington 10k turn out on a Friday night to watch RL but in London it is 500 isn't due to knock ons, or blowing up for forward passes. 

On your first point, I don't disagree about repetion being boring, but it is a prominent feature of all sports. Football, Netball, boxing, basketball, cricket, RU, motor racing, it's all based around repetion - it is how that repetition is punctured with moments of skill, scores, controversy, and imho RL rates very highly versus most (all imo) other sports. 

I agree completely. 

What's most important to me on that 'repetition' point is that RL has the power to craft the narrative around the sport. Yes, die-hard RL fans might bemoan the lack of consistency or "purity" of the play the ball, or something that the referee missed, but that's really not the story. 

Formula1 is a brilliant example of this. Like you say, a lot of F1 is repetitive and processional - and that turned a lot of fans away in the past - but the way they work around that and tell the story of the race is very clever. They now use data and analytics to try and predict when overtaking opportunities will happen (a deliberate technique to stop the viewer turning off) and to provide some insight into team strategies. They use driver radios to immerse the TV viewer into the race and then you have documentaries like Drive to Survive which opens up the sport to a whole new audience and tells so many new stories. 

And this is a sport where the six of the last seven seasons have been won by the same driver, all seven of those seasons have been won by the same car, and the four seasons before that were all won by the same guy. The idea that RL struggles because only four names are on the trophy is a nonsense.

One issue that hasn't really been touched upon in this thread, but I also think is a real issue, is the accessibility of RL. It isn't that easy a sport to get involved in - either as a viewer, spectator or player, even if you wanted to and especially if you're not in the heartlands. To answer the question as to why 10,000 people go to the Halliwell Jones, the reason is (in part) because RL is accessible in Warrington. It's literally in the heart of the community there, it's a good product with not a lot of competition (in a sporting sense) and it's very easy to get involved. 

But our games are played in a very small geographic area, our TV coverage is largely behind a paywall and that is only for the few games that are actually televised or recorded to a decent level, our digital presence is poor, there are lots of factors that make RL hard to participate in (geography of teams, the level of commitment, general concerns around contact sports and the fact that we don't really have an accessible format, such as 5-a-side in football) and we don't really offer anything for people who could be tempted by a form of "Diet RL" or "RL Lite", in the way that cricket or darts has (although I know that point splits the room). 

As someone who has moved away from and back to RL's heartlands over the years, it's very hard to follow RL from afar and that accessibility issue is a huge bottleneck to getting people engaged with the sport long term. It's not that the geography issue is the problem per se, but that the sport doesn't really use the channels and tools it has to overcome that issue. 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
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3 hours ago, Johnoco said:

Not from me as I am purely working from my own experience. I've seen many games where I think 'FFS just let it go.' and I've also watched games with other people who find the reffing a bit nit picking. This isn't especially a dig at the refs, I'm sure they are working to directives. 

It's a bit like the recent disallowed try for France in the England game. I'm sure someone can (and probably will) produce a rule book to prove that it was a genuine obstruction. But my argument was that it had no bearing on the try being scored and ultimately only resulted in France losing impetus. And thus another defeat. 

I don't think we should disregard the rules..... I just think there is a danger of RL being too pedantic for the sake of 'following the rules'. Which may be harsh but there it is.

To be fair the obstruction rule has been needed to be looked at for years. some of the dissallowed tries get ridiculous when defenders have made their own massive error of judgement but get away with it. However, again we have to get them tuning in first or turning up at the game first, which is something I dont think we do enough.. 

not saying we shouldnt do it, but just that its shuffling deck chairs on the titanic if you dont radically fix the way the game is pushed or the fact there is no international calendar.. (sorry just wanted to get that off my chest again)

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11 minutes ago, RP London said:

To be fair the obstruction rule has been needed to be looked at for years. some of the dissallowed tries get ridiculous when defenders have made their own massive error of judgement but get away with it. However, again we have to get them tuning in first or turning up at the game first, which is something I dont think we do enough.. 

not saying we shouldnt do it, but just that its shuffling deck chairs on the titanic if you dont radically fix the way the game is pushed or the fact there is no international calendar.. (sorry just wanted to get that off my chest again)

I absolutely agree that a good international programme is essential for engaging more casual sports fans. But we seem to be having this conversation since Adam was a lad and nothing changes. 

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3 hours ago, Johnoco said:

I don't think we should disregard the rules..... I just think there is a danger of RL being too pedantic for the sake of 'following the rules'. Which may be harsh but there it is.

Unfortunately as the game has become more professional so have the referees. This is manifesting itself in a strict adherence to the rule book - in the name of professionalism - rather than an intelligence application of refereeing in the `spirit of the game  `. Which of course is so much harder to define and apply.

It would take a brave referee to break away from that, but after watching a lot of classic matches of the 80`s and 90`s lately I`m amazed how quickly the commentators ( and players ) move on from their protests after 50/50 calls.

It`s not that they aren`t questioning decisions any different than when I watch a game last season, they most definitely do, but the difference is the referees aren`t pulling up play at every marginal call and generally they seem to be quickly forgotten.

This is aided by the fact there is a lot of 50/50 calls in a match and if the referees get in the habit of giving benefit of the doubt most specific incidents are quickly forgotten or neutralised by incidents where the other team might feel it has just cause to complain.

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I think we could do no worse than looking at how Netball has turned that sport into a growth sport with increased and wider participation with different formats. In additional an organisation driving social participation similar to five a side leagues.

They have increased internationals, created a SL of clubs, created a new concept in Fast5, and through their marketing are growing in both spectators, participation plus sponsorship and TV deals. In fact I put the words of Netball CEO that highlights their main success and although not mentioned in extract below undoubtedly international England success has helped.

CEO comments last Feb21. 

Netball’s meteoric rise in both participation and profile made it one of the success stories of the last decade in British sport.

From 2010 to 2019, the number of girls and women playing the game at grassroots level doubled to 1.6m. Pre-pandemic, 236,000 adults were weekly netballers.

That growth is partly down to England Netball offering a range of different ways to play, from Bee Netball for children to Walking Netball for the less mobile and Nets, a fast-paced, non-stop version of the sport played inside a netting cage.

“We want every woman or girl to have the opportunity to participate in netball in a way that works for them, so we have a product whether you’re five or 85,” says Connolly.

“I’m a strong believer that if you put the player or participant at the centre of everything and work backwards from that, any sport can achieve in the same way that we’ve grown. 

“I think it’s a case of really knowing your customers; something that’s really commonplace in business and less in sport. 

“We’ve always wanted to be a sports business with a heart. And by putting the participant first we believe the commercial revenue will follow that.”

Edited by redjonn
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6 minutes ago, redjonn said:

I think we could do no worse than looking at how Netball has turned that sport into a growth sport with increased and wider participation with different formats. In additional an organisation driving social participation similar to five a side leagues.

They have increased internationals, created a SL of clubs, created a new concept in Fast5, and through their marketing are growing in both spectators, participation plus sponsorship and TV deals. In fact I put the words of Netball CEO that highlights their main success and although not mentioned in extract below undoubtedly international England success has helped.

CEO comments last Feb21. 

Netball’s meteoric rise in both participation and profile made it one of the success stories of the last decade in British sport.

From 2010 to 2019, the number of girls and women playing the game at grassroots level doubled to 1.6m. Pre-pandemic, 236,000 adults were weekly netballers.

That growth is partly down to England Netball offering a range of different ways to play, from Bee Netball for children to Walking Netball for the less mobile and Nets, a fast-paced, non-stop version of the sport played inside a netting cage.

“We want every woman or girl to have the opportunity to participate in netball in a way that works for them, so we have a product whether you’re five or 85,” says Connolly.

“I’m a strong believer that if you put the player or participant at the centre of everything and work backwards from that, any sport can achieve in the same way that we’ve grown. 

“I think it’s a case of really knowing your customers; something that’s really commonplace in business and less in sport. 

“We’ve always wanted to be a sports business with a heart. And by putting the participant first we believe the commercial revenue will follow that.”

The only thing I would add as a caveat to your comments is that the most recent Fast5 - a Matchroom product - had very, very low sales. But, in general, it's a sport whose attitude we could learn a lot from.

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10 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

The only thing I would add as a caveat to your comments is that the most recent Fast5 - a Matchroom product - had very, very low sales. But, in general, it's a sport whose attitude we could learn a lot from.

I guess the key point is they have gained their success against the same backdrop of competing sports and entertainment market as RL. 

The 2nd point being how they achieved that and here I am assuming by having a strong CEO, a growth strategy, and then investing in the key components e.g. like a good marketing organisation or local organisation, additional formats, international game success, etc etc. Then being consistent and believing in the strategy which of course must be helped by buy-in across the sports administrators, administrations or organisations and volunteers, etc).

Remember also that it is mainly a women's sport so they have only half the population to aim for with regards participation... although that may change..

RL has many of the components in place and so need to identify the missing parts and then the buy-in and enthusiasm leading to drive and consistency of effort.

Edited by redjonn
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6 hours ago, Dave T said:

This thread was about marketing the product, how we package it better, sell it better, engage with fans better. And it has turned into existing RL fans discussing their minor bugbears with the sport. And I think this is where the sport has gone wrong. We think the most important thing is the stuff that happens on the field, when it is pretty clearly established that it isn't the most important thing. 

I find it hard to believe that the primary attraction for most regular attendees isn`t the sport itself. It may be different for major events like internationals where marketing and promotion can appeal to those who like to feel part of an occasion. It doesn`t have to be perfect, but to keep people going to club fixtures week-to-week, the game on the field has to make a sufficiently favourable impression.

7 hours ago, Dave T said:

The way to do that isn't by focusing on knock on interpretations. 

I keep emphasizing this is not merely esoteric frustration with a rule interpretation. The claim is that this interpretation indirectly and negatively affects the whole 80 minutes. And that it forms part of a wider suppression of variety and unpredictability in RL.

Addressing how the product could be made more entertaining and considering how best to market it are not mutually exclusive concerns.

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38 minutes ago, unapologetic pedant said:

I find it hard to believe that the primary attraction for most regular attendees isn`t the sport itself. It may be different for major events like internationals where marketing and promotion can appeal to those who like to feel part of an occasion. It doesn`t have to be perfect, but to keep people going to club fixtures week-to-week, the game on the field has to make a sufficiently favourable impression.

I keep emphasizing this is not merely esoteric frustration with a rule interpretation. The claim is that this interpretation indirectly and negatively affects the whole 80 minutes. And that it forms part of a wider suppression of variety and unpredictability in RL.

Addressing how the product could be made more entertaining and considering how best to market it are not mutually exclusive concerns.

Of course that is the primary attraction, but there are a hundred other things that people could be doing instead, so it needs to be packaged and sold to customers. People wont just turn up.

Your 2nd paragraph is contradictory. You say it isn't about a rule interpretation - but then explain exactly why it IS about a rule interpretation.

Also - you do keep ignoring that I have acknowledged that we should always look to tweak and improve the game where relevant - what I am saying, is that it won't grow the game. What I am also saying is that this is a Sports Marketing thread and existing RL fans are positioning rule interpretations as a major issue and missing the point.

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9 hours ago, Johnoco said:

True, I remember Jimmy Hill campaigning for 3 points for a win, he also was largely responsible for the end of the maximum wage in football. 

There was also frequent comparison made with the North American Soccer League in the 70s. 

It amused me when the BBC would introduce the "Match of the Seventies" nostalgia series with rhetoric like "let`s go back to that golden era", because that isn`t how I remember the mood back then.

Attendances had been falling since the 50s and there was a fair bit of alarm and despondency around. Television was killing the game, hooliganism was killing the game, negative play was killing the game, etc.

Things like 3 points for a win and American razzmatazz and gimmickry were proposed as measures to save "a dying sport" - where have we heard that phrase before?

9 hours ago, Johnoco said:

But even if those changes never happened, or the Premier League, football would still have a big supporter base. Which allows it to ride out periods of rubbish play or rules that stifle enterprise. 

Indeed so. I think the tide turned after Italia 90 which helped change perceptions of Soccer in this country.

Notwithstanding all the off-field rearrangements, I don`t think they could have generated their revival without the changes in the way English top level Soccer was played which came via the huge influx of foreign players and coaches. Aided by improvements in the standard of pitches. Ultimately, it`s the product on the field that sells.

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Just now, unapologetic pedant said:

<snip> Ultimately, it`s the product on the field that sells.

To take this to its logical conclusion, I find it a shame that you think Football and Rugby Union are such superior sports to RL as shown by their greater crowds, TV figures and investors. 

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7 hours ago, JohnM said:

I was trying to say that I was welcoming the BBC coverage but feel we need to give them more through a more extensive programme of internationals.  Othewise,  any schedule gaps will be filled from other sports with more regular and frequent internationals.  Not the biggest fan of BBC as an organisation, but their coverage of our sport in recent years is far better than during the Eddie Waring days.  Sky remains the platform of choice for UK NRL and SL viewers who are in effect bankrolling our club game. And yes, stay away from Amazon. I'm a Prime subscriber but bringing them in will not in my view create more fans.

More international games is good but any Jamaica game should be held in London. Big Jamaican community and there are plenty of groups who organise events for them throughout the year. Link up with them and promote the game.

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4 minutes ago, Dave T said:

Your 2nd paragraph is contradictory. You say it isn't about a rule interpretation - but then explain exactly why it IS about a rule interpretation.

 

2 minutes ago, Dave T said:

To take this to its logical conclusion, I find it a shame that you think Football and Rugby Union are such superior sports to RL as shown by their greater crowds, TV figures and investors. 

I give up.

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18 minutes ago, NW10LDN said:

More international games is good but any Jamaica game should be held in London. Big Jamaican community and there are plenty of groups who organise events for them throughout the year. Link up with them and promote the game.

How would a link to the Jamaican community be any different to the expectation of a link to the antipodean community that promised so much when the Broncos were pushing it?

People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

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20 minutes ago, unapologetic pedant said:

 

I give up.

On a thread about Sports Marketing if you focus on the rules you don't like, and then make the point that the primary focus is the stuff on the pitch, don't be surprised if people disagree with you. On this Sports Marketing thread all you appear to want to discuss is minor rule interpretations.

It is perfectly fine to hold the view that tweaking the game will deliver better results than effective marketing (I strongly disagree) but don't keep making out that isn't what you are saying.

Edited by Dave T
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20 minutes ago, JohnM said:

How would a link to the Jamaican community be any different to the expectation of a link to the antipodean community that promised so much when the Broncos were pushing it?

It's a national team and not a poorly run club. There's no point in having Jamaica play if there isn't going to be an effort to promote the game within the Jamaican community and in Jamaica. Many on here want more international games but then wonder why the BBC won't show Jamaica v Scotland in front of a small crowd in Featherstone.

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8 hours ago, Dave T said:

 On this Sports Marketing thread all you appear to want to discuss is minor rule interpretations.

It is perfectly fine to hold the view that tweaking the game will deliver better results than effective marketing (I strongly disagree) but don't keep making out that isn't what you are saying.

How many times must I say that I`m focussing on this particular rule interpretation precisely because I don`t regard it as "minor" or "tweaking". If you do - fair enough, it`s a point of disagreement.

I accept your argument that the game of RL is currently more than good enough to be successful if it were marketed better. But for the reasons cited by @Johnoco, we can`t afford to be complacent about the product on the field. And for the umpteenth time, I am not referring to isolated tweaks or minor rule interpretations.

It`s also worth considering whether the form of marketing that would pull 40 000 Londoners to Wembley for an England v Australia international is different from the form that would attract 10 000 crowds to Broncos games every fortnight. I would suggest the latter would be more closely tied to, and dependent on, the entertainment value of the game on the field.

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14 hours ago, whatmichaelsays said:

Formula1 is a brilliant example of this. 

This is based mainly on a couple of members of my family. -

Blokes who follow motor sports are a strange breed. They don`t like games of any sort. It doesn`t matter how predictable Formula 1 is. They`re just obsessed with cars. And they tend to have a penchant for things like Red Dwarf and Blake`s 7.

So I doubt promotional techniques that engage them would work on normal people who enjoy real sports.

14 hours ago, whatmichaelsays said:

As someone who has moved away from and back to RL's heartlands over the years, it's very hard to follow RL from afar and that accessibility issue is a huge bottleneck to getting people engaged with the sport long term. It's not that the geography issue is the problem per se, but that the sport doesn't really use the channels and tools it has to overcome that issue. 

Across large swathes of the UK, regularly attending pro RL games is not a viable option. Most people outside the heartlands, if their interest is piqued by a well-marketed event, could only subsequently pursue that via TV and other media. But that still represents value to the sport. The richest RL competition in the world has a large part of its fanbase stretched across regional NSW and QLD.

The difference is that all those Aussies have access to grass roots involvement, which maintains the links to the elite level. In the end, building a nationwide community club network is our only realistic "tool to overcome the geography issue". With the emphasis on non-contact forms over Tackle RL.

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1 hour ago, unapologetic pedant said:

In the end, building a nationwide community club network is our only realistic "tool to overcome the geography issue". With the emphasis on non-contact forms over Tackle RL.

That and weekly, consistent time slot, live terrestrial coverage.

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12 hours ago, NW10LDN said:

It's a national team and not a poorly run club. There's no point in having Jamaica play if there isn't going to be an effort to promote the game within the Jamaican community and in Jamaica. Many on here want more international games but then wonder why the BBC won't show Jamaica v Scotland in front of a small crowd in Featherstone.

I think Broncos were fairly well run at the Stoop, at least around the Branson times. I attended  quite a few games there in front of decent crowds and with a good atmosphere. Give Jamaica a go, by all means, but personally, I'd be looking at invoking the rivalry between us,  Australia, New Zealand,  maybe France, to create a stunning backdrop against which to play the actual games.

People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

Isaac Asimov

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