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Does rugby league need another fighter like Maurice Lindsay?


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In putting together a reflection on Maurice Lindsay this week, i found an quote that summed up much of his philosophy:

"I never wanted to be an ambassador, a diplomat. I just wanted to be a fighter for an underprivileged sport”

Love him or hate him, few would argue that Lindsay was not a fighter. 

The question is, while this may have worked at Wigan in the 1980s, when he was battling to turn a single club around, can it work when running an entire sport? While i have made the case that Lindsay was a rugby league visionary (ahead of his time when it came to professionalisation, marketing, modern supporter demands etc) - his record at the RFL is one that is very much contested. Bar the switch to Summer, the sport failed in many of the objectives set out at the beginning of the Super League era 

The question i'm interested in is whether we think in 2022 and beyond we need a fighter (to challenge the current orthodoxy) or a unifier (that can maximise what we already have to better effect)? Or can we do both? 

For those interested, i put down my own thoughts on Maurice for LoveRugbyLeague this week 

https://www.loverugbyleague.com/post/maurice-lindsay-farewell-to-a-rugby-league-revolutionary/ 

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The problem for TGG is not having a Mo it's not having enough of them.

We do need Mo's without their club baggage though!

When pundits talk about his ability to make the tough decisions this was true but only because it never affected Wigan.

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49 minutes ago, Tides Of History said:

Love him or hate him, few would argue that Lindsay was not a fighter. 

If Mr Lyndsey had fought harder with his streamlining and amalgamation project, do people think we would be in a better or worse state than we are today?

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11 hours ago, Oxford said:

The problem for TGG is not having a Mo it's not having enough of them.

We do need Mo's without their club baggage though!

When pundits talk about his ability to make the tough decisions this was true but only because it never affected Wigan.

Ralph Rimmer isn't a fighter or a scapper for the game. In my opinion the game has gone backwards with him in charge. How he can draw the money he does for what he does in my opinion is wrong. He should be paid on performance and then he might do a lot more than he's doing for the game at the moment

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The thing about Lindsay was he was an entrepreneur. Ralph Rimmer couldn’t spell entreeprennuur!

We’ve had administrators & quasi-politicians in charge of the game, not businessmen. That’s why we’ve had to bring in IMG to do the business thing, I suppose. 

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22 hours ago, Harry Stottle said:

If Mr Lyndsey had fought harder with his streamlining and amalgamation project, do people think we would be in a better or worse state than we are today?

Many will disagree with me but in 1995 the game was on it's knees.

The Murdoch money saved the game.

Murdoch was only interested in putting the game on his pay per view channel (s). Streamlining and amalgamation was no issue to Murdoch.

I believe that the game is now in a very similar position to 1995.

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22 hours ago, Oxford said:

The problem for TGG is not having a Mo it's not having enough of them.

We do need Mo's without their club baggage though!

When pundits talk about his ability to make the tough decisions this was true but only because it never affected Wigan.

It was never going to affect Wigan though was it?

The practical reality is that for Leeds, Wigan, with Warrington, St Helens and Hull now too, any restructure, reformat, upheaval etc will always have them involved at the top level. 

Almost ever admin/structure decision made in the past 25 years has been about which clubs can be brought closer to that top level and how is it fairest to do so.

We've had P/R to give clubs a chance to come up and compete. We've gone with a closed shop to prioritise spread of resources. We've had licensing to incubate clubs so they can grow as businesses without the existential threat of relegation each year. We've merged two French teams to create a new elite tier club. We've had the 8s to give even more Championship clubs the opportunity to prove their mettle against flagging Super League clubs. We're reportedly considering 2x10s to prioritise funding into clubs who can compete in the professional ranks.

I'd suggest few of the above really worked as best as it was hoped to achieve that core aim, though some were more successful than others.

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10 hours ago, Man of Kent said:

The thing about Lindsay was he was an entrepreneur. Ralph Rimmer couldn’t spell entreeprennuur!

Rimmer would set up a committee to write a report on how to spell it then leave the report gathering dust in case it offended someone.

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13 minutes ago, RigbyLuger said:

Mr. Rimmer is too much of a diplomat. The mess of the elite academies, for example, would never have happened under Uncle Mo.

Tbf he's walked into a mess and is just not equipped to deal with it. 

When he took over in 2018 the alliances and coalition that Nigel Wood had relied on were breaking down. Full cap level funding wasn't helping some super league clubs enough to offset the issues that were arising with the 8s. SL were growing frustrated with the focus on 2 or 3 Championship clubs every year and the relatively huge sums that were being poured into that competition. The Championship itself had been split into 2 leagues of haves and have nots making every other game a forgone conclusion due to the massive funding disparity. Up to half of League 1 either had folded or was ready to disappear into the amateur ranks. SL walked, misguided perhaps in results but with genuine aims and grievances.

Wood left a mess of distrust, hyperinflation in the Championship, SL disharmony, stunted growth at the very top of the domestic game, an international England scene going backwards signed up to outdated concepts, and an RFL beholden to funding from an organisation who existed because it held the RFL in contempt.

I do empathise with the situation Ralph was in meaning he had to tip toe around all of the above. I still have been left uninspired by his leadership, but appreciate some of that will have been stunted by the mess he inherited. 

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One thing I will say in favour of Rimmer is that when COVID hit, I feared the worst, but he actually managed to get rugby league to the front of the queue for a rescue.

He didn't grandstand all over the media, but behind the scenes he convinced the politicians of the damage that would be done to numerous communities if rugby league clubs collapsed. 

When the crisis came, his quiet diplomats approach actually served us well. 

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7 minutes ago, Toby Chopra said:

One thing I will say in favour of Rimmer is that when COVID hit, I feared the worst, but he actually managed to get rugby league to the front of the queue for a rescue.

He didn't grandstand all over the media, but behind the scenes he convinced the politicians of the damage that would be done to numerous communities if rugby league clubs collapsed. 

When the crisis came, his quiet diplomats approach actually served us well. 

I think that says more about the desperation of the game and less access to finance compared to other sports to be honest.

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1 hour ago, Damien said:

I think that says more about the desperation of the game and less access to finance compared to other sports to be honest.

Plenty of sports took some sort of bailout in my recollection. But even if you're right, that fundamental vulnerability was decades in the making, and not Rimmer's fault. 

I don't think it was a given at all that the government would stump up for rugby league, plenty of other cultural organisations have failed to recover from the covid period. So I think credit where it's due for him. 

That still doesn't make him the right guy to drive the game forward, which I think he knows himslef, thus getting IMG on board. 

I hope he uses his backroom skills to convince the clubs to take on what IMG suggest. 

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14 hours ago, The Future is League said:

Ralph Rimmer isn't a fighter or a scapper for the game. In my opinion the game has gone backwards with him in charge. How he can draw the money he does for what he does in my opinion is wrong. He should be paid on performance and then he might do a lot more than he's doing for the game at the moment

Ralph is am administrator who ticks a lot of boxes

But he is not a go getter or inspirational leader is he

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18 minutes ago, Toby Chopra said:

Plenty of sports took some sort of bailout in my recollection. But even if you're right, that fundamental vulnerability was decades in the making, and not Rimmer's fault. 

I don't think it was a given at all that the government would stump up for rugby league, plenty of other cultural organisations have failed to recover from the covid period. So I think credit where it's due for him. 

That still doesn't make him the right guy to drive the game forward, which I think he knows himslef, thus getting IMG on board. 

I hope he uses his backroom skills to convince the clubs to take on what IMG suggest. 

You talked about the front of the queue. Yes other sports got bailouts too, RL getting one certainly wasn't something unique in that regard. As I recall other sports did much better in terms of grants rather than just loans too. I'm not sure why Rimmer should be lauded for that. 

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Posted (edited)

The answer is No.

A modern Mo in this era, would be divisive in a time when cooperation surely is the future way, as I expect IMG to conclude.

Like fax machines, AM radio, mother in law jokes and Russian military might, all from a distant time.

Move on.

 

Edited by idrewthehaggis
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15 minutes ago, idrewthehaggis said:

The answer is No.

A modern Mo in this era, would be divisive in a time when cooperation surely is the future way, as I expect IMG to conclude.

Like fax machines, AM radio, mother in law jokes and Russian military might, all from a distant time.

Move on.

We've had years of co-operation and trying to pander to all. That isn't a new approach. It has been the approach of Rimmer and Wood. It has merely led to stagnation, then decline and ludicrous ideas like the middle 8s and giving large sums of money to prop up full time professional clubs in the Championship. 

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7 hours ago, Tommygilf said:

I'd suggest few of the above really worked as best as it was hoped to achieve that core aim, though some were more successful than others.

Because the people involved never say what's really taking place or the real reasons why they want it we'll probably never become aware of what the core aims were for most of them. And it may even be that the core aims were never for the good of the game or the progress of SL or whatever.

You do get the feeling that where they were successful was in those unintentional areas and as far from the stated objectives and goals as they could be.

 

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7 hours ago, Damien said:

As I recall other sports did much better in terms of grants rather than just loans too.

Did they?

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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21 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

Did they?

As an example in the RU £88 million funding tranche the RU Community game got £17 million in grants. Then loans too. Women's game £1.1 million in grants.

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6 minutes ago, Damien said:

As an example in the RU £88 million funding tranche the RU Community game got £17 million in grants. Then loans too. Women's game £1.1 million in grants.

Didn't realise that

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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Posted (edited)

I'm a fan of entrepreneurs, I think the game needs them, and as many as possible. But it also needs quality, steady administrators who are going to deliver thev quality. 

In reality, Lindsay had more failures than successes as an RFL employee, and I think that's fine, for me it means we tried more than maybe we do now, but let's not give him credit for things that others did or ignore the things that were rubbish. 

I understand the drive to sustainability, but I do find it a little boring tbh, and I get that I'm not paying the bills, so the bill payers get to say how it goes, but thats why I think we need more people like him at clubs maybe rather than the governing body. 

One final point, anyone saying "xxxxxx farce wouldn't have happened under Lindsay" should maybe study the 90s a little more - there were plenty of farces back then too. 

I liked Lindsay, we do need more prepared to be bold like him, but I also think the game has tried to learn from many mistakes we did back then too. 

Edited by Dave T
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3 minutes ago, Dave T said:

One final point, anyone saying "xxxxxx farce wouldn't have happened under Lindsay" should maybe study the 90s a little more - there were plenty of farces back then too. 

Carlisle merging with Barrow to become Barrow.

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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