What are the challenges / issues Rugby League is facing?

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What are the challenges / issues Rugby League is facing?

Post by nathan_rugby »

Interested to hear what everyone thinks the biggest challenges and issues are to rugby league, what is currently in flight to resolve and what doesn't look like is making any progress towards.

I am talking about things like declining crowds, declining youth participation, constant rule changes, salary cap etc.
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Re: What are the challenges / issues Rugby League is facing?

Post by Wigan_forever1985 »

I've been a long believer that the play-off system has slowly ebbed away interest in the season and i think its become easier and easier to skip the odd match here and there and that gets bigger each season and now weve got to the stage a lot of fans turn up for Magic and Grand final but not much else

However that's probably subjective and the play-off system itself probably can work, it would be interesting to see in more established sports like NBA whether the seasonal to playoff crowds differ

That's a subjective issue but there are some non-subjective issues that are interlinked that for me will be the end of rugby league in a few years if they arent addressed;

1) Sport is sold on sportsmen not the sport - if you want to gain neutral fans you need a player or players that is a name that someone who has never watch a game knows. People are drawn to sports by personalities they want someone they can latch onto - once their in its then the business of the sport to keep them there but to get them there you need the individual. The fact that players cannot earn sponsorship completely destroys the chances of that happening because no one wants to give air time for free but if youre selling then people will find a way to give you exposure. Without breaking that wall down the sport will not grow and its inner population will dwindle you need a fresh stream of "casual" fans

2) Money - There is 0 incentive for someone to come into rugby league because its a salary capped sport that doesnt want you to excel. It wants a peloton of teams all there and there abouts. The problem with that is you have no big clubs and without big clubs there's no dream and no progression. Its also hard to draw again casual fans in. In the past if you wanted to introduce someone to rugby league it was simple Pick a game featuring 2 of the 4 big teams Wigan/Saints/Bradford/Leeds - you were guaranteed it would be the best the sport had to offer. Now if someone asked you to pick a game what would you do? probably have to say Grand Final? but then you peak their interest as the whole thing ends. In the same way the sport needs players it needs big clubs. Im an example, im not a football fan but ill watch Man Utd vs Liverpool or City because its a big game and i want to be involved - i would pay to go to a game like that even if i wasnt a fan of either team.

To have big clubs youd have to let people run them how they want to run them invest however much they want and have ways of recouping that investment. Its not simple because at first its a loss leader but there are people who can/want to like the good Dr. We need rid of the poverty minded set up we have now i think its time for Rugby League to go big or go home - take the brakes off otherwise it will just pitter out of existence
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Re: What are the challenges / issues Rugby League is facing?

Post by josie andrews »

Good post WF1985 👏🏼👏🏼
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But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
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Re: What are the challenges / issues Rugby League is facing?

Post by the pieman »

was going to post something similar to WF1985 (but wouldnt have worded it so well :) )

Play-offs IMO currently make RL a long pre-season, with the odd game of intensity, but they tend to be Wigan v Saints, Wire and poss Leeds. Outside of those games i struggle to get up for them as it often feels like there is nothing riding on them. i can honestly say that the majority of games v Wakey, Hudds are just complete borefests and i really dont look forward to going to them

the point about the NBA etc i cant answer as i am not into American sports. One thing however i do know is that they treat them as an experience having spoken to friends who have holidayed in the USA and been to NFL / NBA games etc. It is all about being there, with the entertainment / waiter type service to your seat. I'm sure Wigan (IL / KR) went to USA a few years ago to look at this.

1. Completely agree with this point and have posted either on here or RLFans previously. Where is the Scully type sponsorship with Gillette, poster boy and adverts. Sam was probably the last well known / household name in his 1st stint at Wigan but i dont think there is now a poster boy of rugby league. i reckon most households wouldnt recognise the majority of super league players and i include RL fans in that. In the late 80s - early 90s, it wasnt just 1 player who was well known outside of RL, but virtually all of the Wigan team, plus several players from other teams
I know RL players are nowhere near the league of professional footballers in terms of social media followers, but why stop them from using social media, if they can generate some extra income

2. again i have posted something along these lines previously. i used the term bringing the game down to the lowest common denominator at the time.
i like your analagy of the peloton,and if we were to set the bar at the highest level i.e. Wigan when the game went professional, it could perhaps have been a whole different ball game. But, in RL case, instead of all striving to be the best, we have lowered the standard to teams who dont want to spend money, dont want to invest in their acadamies, dont want to invest in a ground

with the above, that has covered off the players and how they could put themselves into the shop window to earn a little more, and having owners who are prepared to speculate to accumulate.
i believe there should be a minimum standard that all clubs should reach, which is where i think the initial licencing system was aiming to get the clubs too. By copping out and letting clubs not have an academy, reserves setup, crap ground, this has been one of the triggers leading to the decline. why should Wigan, Saints keep producing young players to prop up all the other clubs who at times simply cant be bothered

Marketing of the game from top to bottom is at best attrocious. I love to watch international RL but recent series have been so poorly marketed it is untrue. At club level, Wigan led the way for a good few years, and i think Wire have had a good go recently, but that has mainly been attempts to rile local rivalry

i think ticket prices, and i said this a few years ago are really at a tipping point for rugby league. Once we have gone over £20 per ticket for regular season games, i honestly think that does have an impact on attendance, and paying silly money to stand in the rain at Headingley, Wakey and Cas does nowt as a travelling supporter. it would be interesting to see if the clubs put a max price on a ticket if that would do anything for attendances

just some simple maths for my example above (i appreciate there is a 50% increase in attendance for the example), but those sorts of figures for most RL clubs should be achievable with a bit of marketing and effort to attract the fans in
5,000 @ £25 = £125k
7,500 @ £20 = £150k
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Re: What are the challenges / issues Rugby League is facing?

Post by Mike »

Wigan_forever1985 wrote: Fri Oct 01, 2021 1:36 pm However that's probably subjective and the play-off system itself probably can work, it would be interesting to see in more established sports like NBA whether the seasonal to playoff crowds differ

I can answer that one - the crowds don't differ (because most US major league sports sell out most games), but the demand certainly does. Prices go up hugely for the playoffs as many more people want to attend. There's a real sense of occasion about "post-season" games. And I believe in most sports in the US the season tickets include those matches (although season tickets are really different here).

RL started off well with its playoffs - crowds were large and people were enthusiastic. They let that slip pretty quickly without taking action to boost crowds. I think the decisions about the format were pretty poor - going to a top 8 was a terrible decision IMO which devalued both the league and the playoffs at the same time. The rot really set in at that point, to where we are now - season ticket holders don't go because it costs them, so the crowds are lower, and I've seen a bunch of early playoff games in recent years that actually seemed less intense than the regular season, probably because of the very low crowds.

Overall, in terms of the structure of the game, I think RL has let the playoffs wither and almost die in terms of fans excitement, and that has trickled down to the league feeling meaningless. If you don't really care if and where you get into the playoffs, why do you care about the qualifcation to that.

To fix it, I'd do everything I possibly could to re-establish the playoffs to a point where every game looked and sounded like the Catalans match. Hype, entertainment, free to season ticket holders, cheap for everyone else, fireworks etc. Get the atmosphere back. Lose money at first doing it, but you'll make it back in 10 years.
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