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Where has the Fun gone?


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This has been something that has been bugging me for a while now, but I dont think it could have been any more evident than yesterday. 

IMO, Rugby League events have forgotten that they are meant to be about FUN.

Now, to avoid pure negativity her I want to clarify that I thoroughly enjoyed myself yesterday. I really enjoyed the England Women's game, and I liked seeing the England Men win. 

However - just after half time, my 6 year old declared that she was bored, so my wife and her left to do some shopping and I stayed for the last half hour myself. The East Stand where I sat had emptied by this stage as the dance initiative that had been a success led to many of them leaving once they had danced at half time. 

As I sat on my own, it really struck me that RL like this is for the purists. I felt like a dinosaur enjoying County Cricket or something with a few other (mainly) older blokes. 

It got me thinking about the event and I couldn't think of a single thing that had been put on to entertain all those kids and families outside of the 160m of Rugby League. For people like me, and I suspect many on these boards, that is enough, but clearly for kids, new fans etc. it just isn't. 

The presentation of the event was fine, professional, but all very po-faced and serious. Where were the attempts at singalong music, where was the entertainment, where were the mascots, face-painters, use of the video screen etc? I should add the dance event was great, my neices were part of it and loved it (then left with their family). 

I think every event we stage should be offering something for people to have fun at, outside of the core game. I don't always like the comparisons to cricket, but they recognised that they needed to inject fun and have re-poaitiined their game massively. We did at the start of SL 25 years ago, but we seem to have now gone back to 1994 - the event yesterday was like an old skool event, and not for the better imo. 

I really fear that we are going to blow the RLWC if we get a load of new fans in the grounds and then don't captivate them. 

Edited by Dave T
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I think the world Cup might well be different, well, at least you'd hope it would. Partly due to a different group of people putting on the event, and partly due to the wider appeal.

I can recall an England V New Zealand game at Hull some years back where it was literally walk to the ground, watch the game, go home. There was literally nothing else.

I think it comes down to the classic RL attitude of 'can we make any money from it?'. If it doesn't benefit significantly, from a financial point of view, then why do it.

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Really good post that.

I'm still not sure if double headers really work. Take The Challenge Cup Final, how many were there for the Leigh v Featherstone match? A lot of people were there for the main match only.

It's similar with Magic Weekend for me, there's too many games and the stadium looks empty.

At The Challenge Cup Final there was some good stuff, the DJ playing in the build up.

But we do need to look at what a fan experience should look like as in 2022 unless you're a hardcore rugby league fan it's about more than the rugby.

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44 minutes ago, Dave T said:

This has been something that has been bugging me for a while now, but I dont think it could have been any more evident than yesterday. 

IMO, Rugby League events have forgotten that they are meant to be about FUN.

Now, to avoid pure negativity her I want to clarify that I thoroughly enjoyed myself yesterday. I really enjoyed the England Women's game, and I liked seeing the England Men win. 

However - just after half time, my 6 year old declared that she was bored, so my wife and her left to do some shopping and I stayed for the last half hour myself. The East Stand where I sat had emptied by this stage as the dance initiative that had been a success led to many of them leaving once they had danced at half time. 

As I sat on my own, it really struck me that RL like this is for the purists. I felt like a dinosaur enjoying County Cricket or something with a few other (mainly) older blokes. 

It got me thinking about the event and I couldn't think of a single thing that had been put on to entertain all those kids and families outside of the 160m of Rugby League. For people like me, and I suspect many on these boards, that is enough, but clearly for kids, new fans etc. it just isn't. 

The presentation of the event was fine, professional, but all very po-faced and serious. Where were the attempts at singalong music, where was the entertainment, where were the mascots, face-painters, use of the video screen etc? I should add the dance event was great, my neices were part of it and loved it (then left with their family). 

I think every event we stage should be offering something for people to have fun at, outside of the core game. I don't always like the comparisons to cricket, but they recognised that they needed to inject fun and have re-poaitiined their game massively. We did at the start of SL 25 years ago, but we seem to have now gone back to 1994 - the event yesterday was like an old skool event, and not for the better imo. 

I really fear that we are going to blow the RLWC if we get a load of new fans in the grounds and then don't captivate them. 

Oh dear 😉

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5 minutes ago, Phil W said:

Really good post that.

I'm still not sure if double headers really work. Take The Challenge Cup Final, how many were there for the Leigh v Featherstone match? A lot of people were there for the main match only.

It's similar with Magic Weekend for me, there's too many games and the stadium looks empty.

At The Challenge Cup Final there was some good stuff, the DJ playing in the build up.

But we do need to look at what a fan experience should look like as in 2022 unless you're a hardcore rugby league fan it's about more than the rugby.

If IMG are good at what they do, surely this will be one of the first things. Fan engagement has to be right up there. I genuinely enjoyed it, but the 7 family members all left just after half time and I was left sat on my own 🤣

Even small things like music choice - for what felt like a lifetime, about 10 minutes at least they played really loud 'enter the arena' style music that offered nowt. It was on a loop and was just noise. Music is such an important part of events, we are still playing the same stuff from 20 years ago. 

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1 minute ago, GUBRATS said:

Oh dear 😉

The likes of you and I will be fine. We enjoy a game of Rugby and a beer. They cater for us - they even had a drinkable San Miguel instead of the dishwater Carlsberg yesterday, but when almost 90% of my group left just after half time it did sort of hit home. 

Actually - do you think maybe I'm the issue here? 🤣

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1 minute ago, Dave T said:

The likes of you and I will be fine. We enjoy a game of Rugby and a beer. They cater for us - they even had a drinkable San Miguel instead of the dishwater Carlsberg yesterday, but when almost 90% of my group left just after half time it did sort of hit home. 

Actually - do you think maybe I'm the issue here? 🤣

👍

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Seriously if the match itself is entertaining enough, then the crowd will respond and purists and non-purists alike will enjoy themselves.

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22 minutes ago, The Rocket said:

Seriously if the match itself is entertaining enough, then the crowd will respond and purists and non-purists alike will enjoy themselves.

That isn't really true though. And what if the game is boring. Do we just accept that fans should be bored? 

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1 hour ago, EastLondonMike said:

I think the world Cup might well be different, well, at least you'd hope it would. Partly due to a different group of people putting on the event, and partly due to the wider appeal.

I can recall an England V New Zealand game at Hull some years back where it was literally walk to the ground, watch the game, go home. There was literally nothing else.

I think it comes down to the classic RL attitude of 'can we make any money from it?'. If it doesn't benefit significantly, from a financial point of view, then why do it.

I hope you're right, but for a host town yesterday for an England game, it was a great chance to give people a sample of what they may get to see this winter. The Rugby did that, but nothing else did. 

I think your last para nails it, they seem to have lost the vision of looking at the bigger picture rather than looking and deciding that paying for a band to entertain the crowd won't see an instant return. 

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31 minutes ago, The Rocket said:

Seriously if the match itself is entertaining enough, then the crowd will respond and purists and non-purists alike will enjoy themselves.

We've got about 127 years of evidence in this country that that's not actually true.

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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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35 minutes ago, Dave T said:

That isn't really true though. And what if the game is boring. Do we just accept that fans should be bored? 

Most reasonable people who attend a sporting fixture will know that not all games are going to be thrillers and sometimes only reasonably entertaining.

If a sport is finding that the balance of games are not providing enough entertainment to maintain or grow crowds then one has to suspect there has to be a problem with the sport itself.

In that case rather than looking to provide entertainment to maintain fan interest, which ultimately can only be a band-aid solution, maybe a whole root and branch review of the game has to be undertaken.

In saying that I do agree that the judicious use of music and game callers can definitely enhance the game day experience, but they certainly aren`t the answer if games are consistently dour or of poor quality.

 

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2 minutes ago, The Rocket said:

Most reasonable people who attend a sporting fixture will know that not all games are going to be thrillers and sometimes only reasonably entertaining.

If a sport is finding that the balance of games are not providing enough entertainment to maintain or grow crowds then one has to suspect there has to be a problem with the sport itself.

In that case rather than looking to provide entertainment to maintain fan interest, which ultimately can only be a band-aid solution, maybe a whole root and branch review of the game has to be undertaken.

In saying that I do agree that the judicious use of music and game callers can definitely enhance the game day experience, but they certainly aren`t the answer if games are consistently dour or of poor quality.

 

But the game isn't consistently dour and poor. 

With respect, I'd argue you are demonstrating the exact attitude that the dinosaurs running our game are. Thinking sporting events are just about what happens on the grass. 

The game is great, the events are not. 

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5 minutes ago, Dave T said:

But the game isn't consistently dour and poor. 

With respect, I'd argue you are demonstrating the exact attitude that the dinosaurs running our game are. Thinking sporting events are just about what happens on the grass. 

The game is great, the events are not. 

We may be RL fans but I think it's obvious that many do not think the game is great. If it was then we wouldn't have declining attendances and constant rule changes to always try and improve it and make it more entertaining.

I agree with what you are saying about events but I also think we ignore concerns about the game in this country at our peril. That goes way beyond this thread and is already covered plenty of times elsewhere.

If the product is poor then no amount of face painting will make the day more exciting. I think there is a lot of merit in what Rocket says about getting the product right makes the rest so much easier.  

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Damien said:

We may be RL fans but I think it's obvious that many do not think the game is great. If it was then we wouldn't have declining attendances and constant rule changes to always try and improve it and make it more entertaining.

I agree with what you are saying about events but I also think we ignore concerns about the game in this country at our peril. That goes way beyond this thread and is already covered plenty of times elsewhere.

If the product is poor then no amount of face painting will make the day more exciting. I think there is a lot of merit in what Rocket says about getting the product right makes the rest so much easier.  

My point about the game is that it is fine, some will like it some won't, but focusing on things like shot clocks isn't going to draw in thousands of new fans.

Every sport can be looked at critically and fault be found. 

RL consistently delivers great sport in this country, and I'm not saying ignore it, we tweak it all the time, but we aren't seeing the crowds and sponsors flock to it. 

Edited by Dave T
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1 hour ago, The Rocket said:

Seriously if the match itself is entertaining enough, then the crowd will respond and purists and non-purists alike will enjoy themselves.

That's the problem with our sport. Other sports create events and the match is just part of it. We are the opposite and thats always been the problem. 

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1 hour ago, Dave T said:

If IMG are good at what they do, surely this will be one of the first things. Fan engagement has to be right up there. I genuinely enjoyed it, but the 7 family members all left just after half time and I was left sat on my own 🤣

Even small things like music choice - for what felt like a lifetime, about 10 minutes at least they played really loud 'enter the arena' style music that offered nowt. It was on a loop and was just noise. Music is such an important part of events, we are still playing the same stuff from 20 years ago. 

Just prior to the mens match starting, they had that music playing over and over again. The girl who was singing the national anthem was stood in the middle of the pitch during all this, probably wishing she'd put a big coat on 😆  And seriously, people complain about Sweet Caroline, but I'd be happy if I never heard Tom Hark again for the rest of my life.

The whole thing felt very flat, and to be fair it wasn't the best of games. It does make me wonder why I bother buying tickets for these game when they first go on sale, when you get an email two weeks out saying the prices have been cut and I can either have an extra ticket for free or get a 50% refund on what I orignally paid.

Highlight of the day for my wife was the group behind us trying to converse with members of the French womens team who kept coming back and to with boxes of pizza. Suffice to say, that's one conversation that didn't go far 🤣

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1 hour ago, Dave T said:

I hope you're right, but for a host town yesterday for an England game, it was a great chance to give people a sample of what they may get to see this winter. The Rugby did that, but nothing else did. 

I think your last para nails it, they seem to have lost the vision of looking at the bigger picture rather than looking and deciding that paying for a band to entertain the crowd won't see an instant return. 

The nous seems to have gone in the leadership in recent times and it is really starting to show big time in our events planning. 

There is literally nothing in the international calendar - men's or women's - from November 2022. We have no 2023 Challenge Cup final date - men or women. These are just examples of how inconvenienced the authorities seem to be about major events.

There is obviously cost cutting going on at RLWC HQ for this tournament which is a potential huge worry too. It is not being pessimistic, we have been here before many times of course.

On a personal note, my personality hasn't really changed. However, RL had me parting with my cash months in advance for home tests, overseas internationals and domestic major events not so long ago - that was based on pure excitement at attending these fixtures. Now I don't have to make a decision until the last minute and often pay a lot less than the sticker price. There must have been something causing that shift because I still love the game and international RL above all else.

Edited by Scubby
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7 minutes ago, ELBOWSEYE said:

That's the problem with our sport. Other sports create events and the match is just part of it. We are the opposite and thats always been the problem. 

Last time I went to a football game it was no different to a RL game ' event ' wise 

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For NFL games a lot of the fans are there for the entertainment more than the game!!! When I went to see Tampa bay I found myself more interested by the sideline entertainment, the music, the dance camera, the catching competition etc etc. Same for rugby union internationals people speak about the atmosphere, the anthems, the Piper on the roof, the picnic before the game, 

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1 minute ago, barnyia said:

For NFL games a lot of the fans are there for the entertainment more than the game!!! When I went to see Tampa bay I found myself more interested by the sideline entertainment, the music, the dance camera, the catching competition etc etc. Same for rugby union internationals people speak about the atmosphere, the anthems, the Piper on the roof, the picnic before the game, 

That's because the actual sport is rubbish 

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11 minutes ago, Dave T said:

My point about the game is that it is fine, some will like it some won't, but focusing on things like shot clocks isn't going to draw in thousands of new fans.

Every sport can be looked at critically and fault be found. 

RL consistently delivers great sport in this country, and I'm not saying ignore it, we tweak it all the time, but we aren't seeing the crowds and sponsors flock to it. 

Well yes tweaks and gimmicks for the sake of it aren't making the game better. Often the reverse.

That's just a far too simplistic way that the game has looked at these things rather than fundamentally raising standards and making the game better.

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7 minutes ago, GUBRATS said:

Last time I went to a football game it was no different to a RL game ' event ' wise 

Which game?

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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7 minutes ago, GUBRATS said:

Last time I went to a football game it was no different to a RL game ' event ' wise 

I often think about that when making the point I did in my opening post, but then it benefits from huge demand, at top level the demand outstrips supply quite comfortably. It is in a unique position that has a national consciousness that just cannot be replicated, so copying football isn't really ab option for us. 

We have to work harder for our crowds, our best comparisons are the other sports around our level - cricket, union, darts, athletics, ice hockey, basketball, netball etc. and I think it is there that our events compare less favourably. Many of these are growing their events, ours are shrinking. 

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1 minute ago, gingerjon said:

Which game?

My last game was Wigan Athletic beating Man City in the Cup about 4 years ago , previous to that was Wigan Athletic beating Man City in the FA cup final at Wembley 9 years ago 

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