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West Wales Raiders - laughing stock


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2 minutes ago, langpark said:

I thought there was a small but hardcore following for Welsh RL, scattered across some of those small towns in the south. Hence why I think they need to choose one of the major cities as a hub where they can all converge. 

I don't know about you, but averging 200 fans per game in Cardiff, is better than 200 in Llanelli as there is still a lot of room for potential growth. The same cannot be said for Llanelli. 

I've only just realised how small Llanelli is - population of just 50k out to the west would appear to limit potential growth. In terms of decent sized population centres, you're looking at Cardiff, Newport or Swansea pretty much.

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1 minute ago, langpark said:

I thought there was a small but hardcore following for Welsh RL, scattered across some of those towns. Hence why I think they need to choose one of the major cities as a hub where they can all converge. 

Fair point. I think in practice anywhere close to the M4 is probably quicker to reach for most of those people than Cardiff city centre though.

The issue isn't really the location though. S. Wales moved multiple times before becoming WWR. Things are stacked against them for all the reasons already listed, but that means the club needs to be run really well and to have the full support of the Welsh RL community. That doesn't appear to be the case.

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1 hour ago, JonM said:

The issue isn't really the location though. S. Wales moved multiple times before becoming WWR. Things are stacked against them for all the reasons already listed, but that means the club needs to be run really well and to have the full support of the Welsh RL community. That doesn't appear to be the case.

Definitely. I think WW is beyond repair. So I am talking about an entirely new entity. 

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9 hours ago, stevecl said:

My sense in Wales is that RL is what the kids/players do when there is no RU "coming calling" and until you get past that they are always doomed to fail in developing and keeping a competitive "local" squad.

We've heard for years how players are being encouraged and developed but if you include the Crusader pre SL national league years they've had (semi) pro RL there for around 15 years so where are all those players?

WWR thought they could bolt a pro team onto their amateur setup when Scorpions/Ironmen hit the wall but I wonder if they were naive enough to think RFL central funding would pay for that move. They clearly lack funding, witness the way they shut down most winters and fail to prepare properly (warm up games and rather fundamentally employing a coach) for the following season. 

One of the best moves that Wales RL have made in recent years is to hold ‘academy’ training sessions for boys and girls through the winter. The impact of this is multiple-fold:

1. Kids who really enjoy their RL in the summer have the option to carry it on through the winter months.

2: WRL are getting juniors from Cardiff, Aber Vallet, Swansea etc training together far more regularly meaning they know each other well when they play Wales 16s, 19s or students together.

3: The kids are developing RL habits far quicker and easier. The nuances learned through repeated practice cannot be disregarded. 

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1 minute ago, welshmagpie said:

One of the best moves that Wales RL have made in recent years is to hold ‘academy’ training sessions for boys and girls through the winter. The impact of this is multiple-fold:

1. Kids who really enjoy their RL in the summer have the option to carry it on through the winter months.

2: WRL are getting juniors from Cardiff, Aber Vallet, Swansea etc training together far more regularly meaning they know each other well when they play Wales 16s, 19s or students together.

3: The kids are developing RL habits far quicker and easier. The nuances learned through repeated practice cannot be disregarded. 

I do get that and hope it works, though the point I was trying to make - badly it seems - is that it seems to me however much the juniors are playing RL, if the "other code" comes calling the lure is too great. I am not sure how else to account for the fact that 15 years of professionalism and development has - a few high profile cases aside - failed to create a generation of "born and bred" RL players and each year WWR and the precursor clubs seem to re-boot with a new set of "converts".

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18 minutes ago, stevecl said:

I do get that and hope it works, though the point I was trying to make - badly it seems - is that it seems to me however much the juniors are playing RL, if the "other code" comes calling the lure is too great. I am not sure how else to account for the fact that 15 years of professionalism and development has - a few high profile cases aside - failed to create a generation of "born and bred" RL players and each year WWR and the precursor clubs seem to re-boot with a new set of "converts".

This is why I think there has to be a full-time Super League club as the pinnacle of a development area's pathway if you want to entice more of the better players to give league a go (I'm not saying that all development areas should have a Super League club - just that if you want some of the better talented juniors to prioritise league, then it would need a SL club to provide a sufficiently attractive 'carrot'). With the best will in the world, earning a few quid playing League 1 doesn't hold the same attraction.

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2 hours ago, JonM said:

Cardiff is probably the worst place in Britain to try to start a pro RL club. It's not a particularly big city, but has a well supported football club, a rugby union team which averages approaching 7000 people, an ice hockey team averaging nearly 3000, county cricket etc. But then you have the Welsh national team in most sports to contend with too - competing with football or rugby internationals 20+ times per year.

Need to be either the only team in a small town, or the second team in a large town. 

Cardiff games attracted largest crowds - it IS the place for a SW RL pro side.

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38 minutes ago, stevecl said:

I do get that and hope it works, though the point I was trying to make - badly it seems - is that it seems to me however much the juniors are playing RL, if the "other code" comes calling the lure is too great. 

It is - you have to remember the deep rooted cultural ties of RU in Wales and family pressure/prestige. Regan called it how it was - he was bored silly playing the RU game and with the strong set up that was in place then he was able to get exposure before Saints even signed him. Wigan were mad not to sign him when they had the chance......

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15 hours ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

Well Regan Grace is at St Helens, for example. I'm led to believe the best Welsh youngsters are by-passing WWR and going straight to Super League academies. The Evans twins started their careers with Warrington. Is that because there isn't a potential full-time career at the top of the pathway in Wales? We saw the likes of Elliot Kear, Gil Dudson and Ben Flower all come through Crusaders' system when they were in Super League. My guess is that had there been a consistent/stable Welsh presence in the top division then we would now be seeing countless more Welsh-born players in the comp. And also a far more competitive Welsh national team. It's so disappointing that it hasn't happened, and is yet another in a long line of missed opportunities for the game.

More a case I think of the ones you mentioned start off in the South Wales WRL academy then get selected/picked off by the super league partners (Made me laugh someone from St. Helens saying they 'produced' Regan... 😂) . It would need a local semi pro club like Raiders/Scorpions/Blue Dragons with a good balance of local players and experienced 'foreigners' underpinning a local Super League side in the South (e.g Celtic Crusaders etc. so there's a continuous local pathway so they can stay local and progress in the sport without uprooting their life like many of our players have had to in order to forge a career in RL. For all the Elliot Kears, Gil Dudson's etc, there's those at a lower level like 'Dolly' at Broncos, Rhodri at Swinton, Cobi Green playing at Rochdale etc. 

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I don't like commentating on situations from a long distance but the lack of serious RL presence in South Wales is the greatest failure of Rugby League in the UK, possibly of all time. And that's up against some strong competition. With more fortitude and proper support from the RFL, it could have weathered the switch to RU professionalism.

I don't think I need to labour the reasons why strong RL in South Wales would be hugely beneficial to the sport.  Or maybe I do. But I won't.

As usual it boils down to money as well as the well-documented Northern parochialism. Bizarre that people complain about the travel to South Wales when, in the first wave of Welsh Rugby League over a hundred years ago, there were multiple teams down there that were visited by Northern clubs in the absence of motorways (actually predating Ford's Model-T).

In a perfect world, there would be a South Wales pro team, ideally at least at Championship level, situated in or close to Cardiff (for best logistics) who would be partnered with the Welsh Rugby League to not just fulfil pro fixtures but to develop a pathway from junior leagues and to link to the local amateur men's league(s). Sadly this exists only in my imagination as it would need serious money and a proper long-term plan.

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"I am the avenging angel; I come with wings unfurled, I come with claws extended from halfway round the world. I am the God Almighty, I am the howling wind. I care not for your family; I care not for your kin. I come in search of terror, though terror is my own; I come in search of vengeance for crimes and crimes unknown. I care not for your children, I care not for your wives, I care not for your country, I care not for your lives." - (c) Jim Boyes - "The Avenging Angel"

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42 minutes ago, tim2 said:

I don't like commentating on situations from a long distance but the lack of serious RL presence in South Wales is the greatest failure of Rugby League in the UK, possibly of all time. And that's up against some strong competition. With more fortitude and proper support from the RFL, it could have weathered the switch to RU professionalism.

I don't think I need to labour the reasons why strong RL in South Wales would be hugely beneficial to the sport.  Or maybe I do. But I won't.

As usual it boils down to money as well as the well-documented Northern parochialism. Bizarre that people complain about the travel to South Wales when, in the first wave of Welsh Rugby League over a hundred years ago, there were multiple teams down there that were visited by Northern clubs in the absence of motorways (actually predating Ford's Model-T).

In a perfect world, there would be a South Wales pro team, ideally at least at Championship level, situated in or close to Cardiff (for best logistics) who would be partnered with the Welsh Rugby League to not just fulfil pro fixtures but to develop a pathway from junior leagues and to link to the local amateur men's league(s). Sadly this exists only in my imagination as it would need serious money and a proper long-term plan.

All you write may, or may not, be correct. 

But the WWR is the answer to none of it. 

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There’s plenty West Wales could do that wouldn’t require stacks of money or time, unlike some pie in the sky ideas on here of relocation, bundles of cash spent on certain areas etc.

Getting the basics right, stuff like getting their website in a user friendly manner and their social media and website output are just the very basics that makes a business, no matter how small, look professional. Their website is user unfriendly, information is sparse and their social media is not much better. 

That said, there’s people here who lived nearby and know that people have offered help but have been turned down and what else can people do if that’s what the owner(s) is/are like?

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4 minutes ago, Toby Chopra said:

All you write may, or may not, be correct. 

But the WWR is the answer to none of it. 

I could see WWR working in the same way Skolars works if they were well run. It wouldn't be part of a long term solution to growing RL in Wales though without money and good organization.

Right now I can't see them existing next season.

"I am the avenging angel; I come with wings unfurled, I come with claws extended from halfway round the world. I am the God Almighty, I am the howling wind. I care not for your family; I care not for your kin. I come in search of terror, though terror is my own; I come in search of vengeance for crimes and crimes unknown. I care not for your children, I care not for your wives, I care not for your country, I care not for your lives." - (c) Jim Boyes - "The Avenging Angel"

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1 hour ago, tim2 said:

I could see WWR working in the same way Skolars works if they were well run. It wouldn't be part of a long term solution to growing RL in Wales though without money and good organization.

Right now I can't see them existing next season.

They're not comparable to me.

Skolars' immediate catchment area - just the adjacent boroughs in NE London - is a million people, with an above average number of young men, and no established rugby club in the area. They've been destabilised by the Broncos' flailing death spasm this season, but if they can survive it they can be the hub of the entire London/Southeast game. 

WWR is based in a small town, in a rural area that's older than average, and the town already has a rugby club deeply embeded in its culture. They even have to train an hour away in Bridgend just to have enough players. 

We all want the game to expand, but we can't ignore the structural issues that always made WWR look like a strange bet. It seems to all boil down to the fact that the owner runs the bar at Stebonheath. 

Now, of course, if the owner is willing to keep going, and the players are willing to keep turning up, who am I to kvetch? Good luck to them. 

But in the likely outcome that it doesn't last, this is one we cant pin on RFL ineptitude, the northern clubs' parochialism, or even bad management by the club itself. 

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1 hour ago, Toby Chopra said:

They're not comparable to me.

Skolars' immediate catchment area - just the adjacent boroughs in NE London - is a million people, with an above average number of young men, and no established rugby club in the area. They've been destabilised by the Broncos' flailing death spasm this season, but if they can survive it they can be the hub of the entire London/Southeast game. 

WWR is based in a small town, in a rural area that's older than average, and the town already has a rugby club deeply embeded in its culture. They even have to train an hour away in Bridgend just to have enough players. 

We all want the game to expand, but we can't ignore the structural issues that always made WWR look like a strange bet. It seems to all boil down to the fact that the owner runs the bar at Stebonheath. 

Now, of course, if the owner is willing to keep going, and the players are willing to keep turning up, who am I to kvetch? Good luck to them. 

But in the likely outcome that it doesn't last, this is one we cant pin on RFL ineptitude, the northern clubs' parochialism, or even bad management by the club itself. 

Fair points, but given Skolars' catchment area they should theoretically have done better over the years, but if they are happy to bump along in the bottom half of League 1 with 200 people watching that's fine. That happens in the heartlands too.

"I am the avenging angel; I come with wings unfurled, I come with claws extended from halfway round the world. I am the God Almighty, I am the howling wind. I care not for your family; I care not for your kin. I come in search of terror, though terror is my own; I come in search of vengeance for crimes and crimes unknown. I care not for your children, I care not for your wives, I care not for your country, I care not for your lives." - (c) Jim Boyes - "The Avenging Angel"

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44 minutes ago, moorside roughyed said:

I feel sorry for these players getting thumped week in week out. They got leathered by us but credit to them for trying to compete to the end. They didn't quit. 

It's an essential (but insufficient) attribute.

Didn't Tony Smith say ''Maximum effort is the minimum requirement''. 

 

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Cardiff Demons (Women’s Super League) are playing out of Cardiff Arms Park this season. Will be interesting to see what kind of crowd they attract - I imagine it will mostly be family and friends but there are a lot of people who enjoy women’s rugby in Cardiff so May attract them.

I’m sure Wales RL will be watching closely.

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2 hours ago, welshmagpie said:

Cardiff Demons (Women’s Super League) are playing out of Cardiff Arms Park this season. Will be interesting to see what kind of crowd they attract - I imagine it will mostly be family and friends but there are a lot of people who enjoy women’s rugby in Cardiff so May attract them.

I’m sure Wales RL will be watching closely.

Expensive to play there so either the funding is very good for them OR they have sponsors that will be covering that cost.

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On 12/04/2022 at 09:03, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

I've only just realised how small Llanelli is - population of just 50k out to the west would appear to limit potential growth. In terms of decent sized population centres, you're looking at Cardiff, Newport or Swansea pretty much.

Villareal population 50k and its football team is in the CL semi final. Population size is not an issue. Dare I say if West Wales were not a basket case of a club they'd be getting half decent crowds for L1

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27 minutes ago, OriginalMrC said:

Villareal population 50k and its football team is in the CL semi final. Population size is not an issue.

Population size is an issue - just not the only issue. I'm guessing Villarreal are the major sports club in that town.  WWR are not the major sports club in Llanelli - Scarlets RU have that stitched up. So WWR are already a small fish in a small pond. Whilst they may be capable of achieving acceptable crowds for L1, any growth beyond that would be very challenging. I think this is why other posters have cited Cardiff as potentially a better location. They would still be a small fish but in a far bigger pond that is far easier to get to and a much more popular city for visitors.

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22 hours ago, tim2 said:

Fair points, but given Skolars' catchment area they should theoretically have done better over the years, but if they are happy to bump along in the bottom half of League 1 with 200 people watching that's fine. That happens in the heartlands too.

Here's the rub-

1. Skolars alone, with the limited resource they have, have to build not only awareness of the club but RL more generally in its locality (they do a good job - look at the local sponsors).

2. They need to do this (promote) in an area with no history of RL or profile for the sport.

3. PT players have to travel long distances across London to training and away games can often mean not getting home on Sundays until after midnight. 

4. There is no opportunity, outside of matches, to experience RL - to build a RL "mentality".

5. Any players that are any good are lost to other teams.

Unless a wad of cash is pumped into the club (as has happened at Broncos) I think becoming competitive is going to always be a challenge - and to be fair all things considered we have not been that bad most seasons. 

Re,  the crowds...if we lose 50, 60 or more each week crowds will drop further. Its not an enticing prospect week in, week out to watch such heavy losses. (That aside, Skolars crowds have not been too far off other L1 clubs and some Championship ones).

Given the reality of RL in the south (zero exposure, tiny player pool, next to no funding), how on earth do you make a club like mine (or Hemel, Oxford, Ironmen, All Golds in the past) competitive?

Frankly I feel like I am watching the slow, maybe not so slow, death of the sport here.

 

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58 minutes ago, EssexRL said:

Here's the rub-

1. Skolars alone, with the limited resource they have, have to build not only awareness of the club but RL more generally in its locality (they do a good job - look at the local sponsors).

2. They need to do this (promote) in an area with no history of RL or profile for the sport.

3. PT players have to travel long distances across London to training and away games can often mean not getting home on Sundays until after midnight. 

4. There is no opportunity, outside of matches, to experience RL - to build a RL "mentality".

5. Any players that are any good are lost to other teams.

Unless a wad of cash is pumped into the club (as has happened at Broncos) I think becoming competitive is going to always be a challenge - and to be fair all things considered we have not been that bad most seasons. 

Re,  the crowds...if we lose 50, 60 or more each week crowds will drop further. Its not an enticing prospect week in, week out to watch such heavy losses. (That aside, Skolars crowds have not been too far off other L1 clubs and some Championship ones).

Given the reality of RL in the south (zero exposure, tiny player pool, next to no funding), how on earth do you make a club like mine (or Hemel, Oxford, Ironmen, All Golds in the past) competitive?

Frankly I feel like I am watching the slow, maybe not so slow, death of the sport here.

 

If the Broncos call it a day, and the Skolars got back the players they've lost this year, do you think that fundamentally changes anything? 

It seems to me that Broncos' doomed attempt to reinvent themselves as a part-time club risks killing off both clubs.

But if Skolars were the only part-time club in the London/SE then there's enough talent to get by on, if not rise to the very top, especially as Skolars develop much of it themselves. 

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12 minutes ago, Toby Chopra said:

If the Broncos call it a day, and the Skolars got back the players they've lost this year, do you think that fundamentally changes anything? 

It seems to me that Broncos' doomed attempt to reinvent themselves as a part-time club risks killing off both clubs.

But if Skolars were the only part-time club in the London/SE then there's enough talent to get by on, if not rise to the very top, especially as Skolars develop much of it themselves. 

I think you're spot on. The tragedy is that the foundations at Skolars are there (e.g., we're long term tenants at New River, have junior squads, a loyal fan base, links with schools etc,) and were building a decent squad. If we get the players back next year then yes things will be back on course. If we don't then we are essentially building from square 1 team-wise.

My fear, as you say, is that Broncos will bring both clubs down. 

More generally, I would point out that if Rochdale can only get 450, as they did against Hunslet, despite being in the heartlands and presumably with a lot more profile locally than we have - what chance does the sport have else where and where there are successes (like Cornwall's 1,500 on Sunday), the inability to build a decent squad means people will drift away.

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