Opinion: Is all publicity good publicity?

If all publicity is good publicity, as some people claim, then the RFL should strike a special medal in honour of Wigan prop forward Ben Flower.

When Flower belted St Helens halfback Lance Hohaia on Saturday, and then again as he lay semi-conscious on the floor, his action was immediately picked up by social media all over the world.

A video of the action on YouTube has already amassed more than 1.1m viewings.


A couple of hours after Flower threw his punch, British heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua was on Sky Sports stopping his Russian opponent inside two rounds.

Joshua is probably the most exciting heavyweight prospect we have ever seen in the United Kingdom, and yet the video of his fight, also on YouTube, had attracted almost exactly one-tenth of the viewers that had seen Flower’s punch.

Most of those viewers had been drawn to the YouTube footage from Twitter, and the question facing the RFL and the clubs is whether those people who poured onto YouTube to check out the footage can be persuaded to come and see a game live.

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The truth is, of course, that the image of Rugby League suffered a severe blow with that punch.

All the news programmes, and the newspapers, tore into Rugby League and drew attention to that piece of violence, although it’s difficult to know whether that negative publicity will have the effect of dissuading people to watch, or dissuading potential sponsors to get involved with the game.

Apparently all the sponsors who were present at the Grand Final itself were delighted with how the evening unfolded.


Whoever decided to issue flags to the supporters of both teams deserves some praise. The sight of all those being waved by the supporters of both teams raised the temperature on the night and set the platform for a wonderful evening.

No doubt we will learn this week what Ben Flower’s punishment will be.

But we shouldn’t allow his moment of madness to take anything away from what was a great night out for Rugby League supporters, and the many people who might have been experiencing a game for the first time.