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England v Tonga series


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There are loads of factors at play with attendances, it isn't simply a case of St Helens does well, Hudds does poorly, Leeds is great etc. 

We have loads of examples of poor crowds, and plenty of examples of decent crowds at each of these grounds. 

What is clear though, is that International RL is a tough sell. Not because it isn't a great product, but because we haven't heavily invested over the years. We saw with the Four Nations that if we invest and plan accordingly, we can grow crowds - we really built up the Kiwi crowds. Basically if we do things well, we increase the chances of getting good crowds. It's my view that this year was done cheaply and we got the results that reflected that.

But I think there were plenty of people that watched it and hopefully enjoyed it. Hopefully that means that a series against Samoa next year could do better. And so on.

One final point I would make. I do think 3 Test Series are a thing of the past. I don't think 3 repeat fixtures are that interesting, I'd be doing all I could to push for a Four Nations. As a minimum a Tri Nations with France as well. This Tonga tour was enjoyable, but there wasn't much to it. They came in, played three games and were gone. To not even play in France where we can draw big crowds seems odd.

For me, let's go bigger and bolder next time.

 

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2 hours ago, Dave T said:

One final point I would make. I do think 3 Test Series are a thing of the past. I don't think 3 repeat fixtures are that interesting, I'd be doing all I could to push for a Four Nations. As a minimum a Tri Nations with France as well.

Not sure I agree with this part.  I think 3 test series are a very good format.

Take a look at the Pacific Championship - none of those matches really mattered apart from the final... NZ and Australia were always going to beat Samoa and the group match between Australia and New Zealand didn't matter in the comp... not that they were not good games but just the final had any kind of value when it came to the competition.

The same would be true of a tri nations between England, France and Samoa... we can spin it all we want but England and Samoa would beat France.  The first England Samoa game would just be a stepping stone to a final.

A 3 test series against Samoa would be a much better test for me as these series play out in stories both on and off the pitch as the series progresses.

Edited by Dunbar
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"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless." — Sir Humphrey Appleby.

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3 minutes ago, Dunbar said:

Not sure I agree with this part.  I think 3 test series are a very good format.

Take a look at the Pacific Championship - none of those matches really mattered apart from the final... NZ and Australia were always going to beat Samoa and the group match between Australia and New Zealand didn't matter in the comp... not that they were not good games but just the final had any kind of value when it came to the competition.

The same would be true of a tri nations between England, France and Samoa... we can spin it all we want but England and Samoa would beat France.  The first England France game would just be a stepping stone to a final.

A 3 test series against Samoa would be a much better test for me as these series play out in stories both on and off the pitch as the series progresses.

I get that, and ideally this is where you'd have Four Nations with at least three strong teams. When you have only two strong teams it is something of a procession. France are a slightly unique nation in that they can probably return a half decent crowd and stage events quite well, but they aren't that competitive. 

In an ideal world we'd have two teams touring and a little more variety and narrative.

But even though the point may be right that the final would be highly likely to be Eng v Samoa, I do think a Tri Nations is more interesting personally (but secondary to a Four Nations). If we don't want to go that far, I do think the touring team playing in France as a standalone Test is crucial.

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To add a little more on the point about a 3 Test Series versus a tournament of some sort - I think we seem to have just stumbled into a 3 Test series somewhat.

I had a quick scan online and in reality 3 Test Series are not really a thing outside of the Ashes or a Kiwi series. We haven't had an Ashes for 17 years and have never had a 3 Test series against any other nation. This was the first one in the history of RL I believe. 

So that should drive the question of why we think a 3 Test Series is the best solution. 

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37 minutes ago, Dave T said:

To add a little more on the point about a 3 Test Series versus a tournament of some sort - I think we seem to have just stumbled into a 3 Test series somewhat.

I had a quick scan online and in reality 3 Test Series are not really a thing outside of the Ashes or a Kiwi series. We haven't had an Ashes for 17 years and have never had a 3 Test series against any other nation. This was the first one in the history of RL I believe. 

So that should drive the question of why we think a 3 Test Series is the best solution. 

because every game counts, after 2:0 you have the whitewash discussion and with 1:1

so you do not have the NBA/NHL problems with 7 and the cricket 5-games

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56 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I get that, and ideally this is where you'd have Four Nations with at least three strong teams. When you have only two strong teams it is something of a procession. France are a slightly unique nation in that they can probably return a half decent crowd and stage events quite well, but they aren't that competitive. 

In an ideal world we'd have two teams touring and a little more variety and narrative.

But even though the point may be right that the final would be highly likely to be Eng v Samoa, I do think a Tri Nations is more interesting personally (but secondary to a Four Nations). If we don't want to go that far, I do think the touring team playing in France as a standalone Test is crucial.

3 Nations are really bad due to the odd number....fly through half the world and have a bye-week?

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1 hour ago, Dave T said:

There are loads of factors at play with attendances, it isn't simply a case of St Helens does well, Hudds does poorly, Leeds is great etc. 

We have loads of examples of poor crowds, and plenty of examples of decent crowds at each of these grounds. 

What is clear though, is that International RL is a tough sell. Not because it isn't a great product, but because we haven't heavily invested over the years. We saw with the Four Nations that if we invest and plan accordingly, we can grow crowds - we really built up the Kiwi crowds. Basically if we do things well, we increase the chances of getting good crowds. It's my view that this year was done cheaply and we got the results that reflected that.

But I think there were plenty of people that watched it and hopefully enjoyed it. Hopefully that means that a series against Samoa next year could do better. And so on.

One final point I would make. I do think 3 Test Series are a thing of the past. I don't think 3 repeat fixtures are that interesting, I'd be doing all I could to push for a Four Nations. As a minimum a Tri Nations with France as well. This Tonga tour was enjoyable, but there wasn't much to it. They came in, played three games and were gone. To not even play in France where we can draw big crowds seems odd.

For me, let's go bigger and bolder next time.

 

I think the "done cheaply" part is the key one for me. I was at the game on Saturday and there was very little that made you feel like it was a big event. There were some school children dancing, in front of the empty corporate seats, the usual unfurling of laundry, but really nothing else that could pass for any sort of pre-match entertainment. 

When you consider the lack of promotion and the revelation from Tom Burgess that the RFL wouldn't even pay to put the players on business class flights, you get the sense that the RFL really was phoning this one in. 

Personally I got a sense of excitement when this tour was announced that we'd have something different to get our teeth into. I think that excitement was lost and in the end, we ended up with just another RFL event, done on the cheap, and people leaving feeling underwhelmed. 

I get that Tonga aren't a big draw and I get that the RFL doesn't have a blank cheque, but that's where I think the RFL takes too much of a short-term view when it comes to ROI.

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1 hour ago, Dave T said:

To add a little more on the point about a 3 Test Series versus a tournament of some sort - I think we seem to have just stumbled into a 3 Test series somewhat.

I had a quick scan online and in reality 3 Test Series are not really a thing outside of the Ashes or a Kiwi series. We haven't had an Ashes for 17 years and have never had a 3 Test series against any other nation. This was the first one in the history of RL I believe. 

So that should drive the question of why we think a 3 Test Series is the best solution. 

I have considered this point, and believe it comes down to cost.

The cost of hosting 4 teams - paying for their flights, putting them up in hotels etc is quite an expense and the extra revenue would likely not support it.

I too would prefer a 4 nations concept but unless it involves Australia and NZ, I can't see it happening

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There needs to be a combination of go bigger but not go bankrupt.

I would say go bigger in terms of venue and ambition with that but avoid going bankrupt by flying in just one decent team for a 3 series test.

Look at how the NFL have consistently staged games at Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.  Look at how the MLB are building a presence/relationship at London Stadium.

RL has had a longstanding presence at Wembley for Challenge Cup final, Old Trafford for Grand Final and St James Park for Magic weekend.  I don’t think anyone would argue Wembley or Old Trafford are suitable for a England test at this stage, SJP more possible due to smaller capacity.
 

For a three test series I would say -

One in London, a real partnership which is visitors regularly.  Perhaps Brentford Community Stadium which is used for Rugby Union?  But maybe West Ham / London Stadium would be interested in a long term relationship.

One in Newcastle - building on the Magic Weekend / WC success there.

One in the heartlands and Headingley would seem to make sense.

i think a series like that would display ambition but wouldn’t financially ruin the RFL.  

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2 hours ago, Dunbar said:

Not sure I agree with this part.  I think 3 test series are a very good format.

Take a look at the Pacific Championship - none of those matches really mattered apart from the final... NZ and Australia were always going to beat Samoa and the group match between Australia and New Zealand didn't matter in the comp... not that they were not good games but just the final had any kind of value when it came to the competition.

The same would be true of a tri nations between England, France and Samoa... we can spin it all we want but England and Samoa would beat France.  The first England Samoa game would just be a stepping stone to a final.

A 3 test series against Samoa would be a much better test for me as these series play out in stories both on and off the pitch as the series progresses.

The only thing I’d do differently is give France a game against Samoa before the series starts

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22 minutes ago, Coastal_Geordie said:

Perhaps Brentford Community Stadium which is used for Rugby Union?  

Not any more. As others have commented though, it is unlikely that a Premiership club like Brentford is going to be particularly interested in renting out its stadium during the football season for a one-off game that will maybe earn them a 5 figure sum vs annual turnover of £140Million last year.

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I think you can predict attendances to some extent then try and market/ push on top of that. Saints, Huddersfield, Leigh are big nos from me. Hull maybe but probably also no.  Leeds and Wigan yes. Best Yorkshire and best Lancashire attendances pretty much guaranteed. Then just find a ground in south east or north east that's half decent and wants us/ won't charge a fortune. Shame Plough Lane isn't a bit bigger. 

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2 hours ago, Mathius Hellwege said:

3 Nations are really bad due to the odd number....fly through half the world and have a bye-week?

I mean, you don't have to sit twiddling your thumbs. Maybe play a game or something. 

But a Tri Nations wouldn't be my first choice either. 

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1 hour ago, DoubleD said:

I have considered this point, and believe it comes down to cost.

The cost of hosting 4 teams - paying for their flights, putting them up in hotels etc is quite an expense and the extra revenue would likely not support it.

I too would prefer a 4 nations concept but unless it involves Australia and NZ, I can't see it happening

I expect this is 3xactky the reason we don't stage much Test RL. 

But we really need to be working to actually having things like sponsors and partners who cover these costs. 

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2 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I mean, you don't have to sit twiddling your thumbs. Maybe play a game or something. 

But a Tri Nations wouldn't be my first choice either. 

You just play England v France as the first game and have Samoa turn up a week later. 

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2 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I expect this is 3xactky the reason we don't stage much Test RL. 

But we really need to be working to actually having things like sponsors and partners who cover these costs. 

That requires a bit of forward planning, and as has been revealed, Samoa aren't even confirmed for 2024 yet

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Just now, JonM said:

You just play England v France as the first game and have Samoa turn up a week later. 

You can do owt really, this is sort of my point. We just went with a Three Test series, well, just because. 

We've never played France like this. Or PNG. GB didn't do this when we toured in 2019.

Tri nations, Four Nations, Tour games - plenty of options. 

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1 minute ago, Dave T said:

You can do owt really, this is sort of my point. We just went with a Three Test series, well, just because. 

We've never played France like this. Or PNG. GB didn't do this when we toured in 2019.

Tri nations, Four Nations, Tour games - plenty of options. 

Federation Shield in 2006 was England, France, Samoa & Tonga (GB were playing in the tri-nations down under - on Bonfire Night weekend, they beat Australia in Sydney on the Saturday and England beat Samoa on the Sunday IIRC).

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2 minutes ago, Mathius Hellwege said:

and we played our Grand Final two weeks after the NRL, unbelievable rookie mistake for harmonized (international) calendars...

We seem to never learn, and keep making the same mistakes over and over. Incredibly frustrating

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40 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I expect this is 3xactky the reason we don't stage much Test RL. 

But we really need to be working to actually having things like sponsors and partners who cover these costs. 

It really is a chicken and egg scenario and the RFL need to speculate to accumulate. They need to persevere with putting these matches on to build interest and something to sell to sponsors and partners.

I remember the old tours always had sponsors, such as Whitbread, has this one even got one? We saw that the University of Central Lancashire only came on board as a sponsor at the last minute. Presumably with the cost cutting around this, obvious through the choice of venues and lads flying back from Australia in economy rather than business, the other sponsors aren't offering much either.

When there is no continuity around fixtures and when what fixtures we do have are done poorly at standard SL venues then it can be no surprise when we struggle in these areas.

Edited by Damien
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3 minutes ago, Damien said:

It will is a chicken and egg scenario and the RFL need to speculate to accumulate. They need to persevere with putting these matches on to build interest and something to sell to sponsors and partners.

I remember the old tours always had sponsors, such as Whitbread, has this one even got one? We saw that the University of Central Lancashire only came on board as a sponsor at the last minute. Presumably with the cost cutting around this, obvious through the choice of venues and lads flying back from Australia in economy rather than business, the other sponsors aren't offering much either.

When there is no continuity around fixtures and when what fixtures we do have are done poorly at standard SL venues then it can be no surprise when we struggle in these areas.

Indeed. We really need our own regular calendar. We can't keep selling sponsorship in three week packages! 

 

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