Rugby League Week calls full time, leaving an immortal legacy

Rhys Jack Roar Rookie

By Rhys Jack, Rhys Jack is a Roar Rookie

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    Rugby league survives on opinions – who’s playing well, who’s not, and why. These are the fuel sources for conversations that burn in lunch rooms, offices and work sites along Australia’s east coast.

    These are the subjects that rugby league fans can argue, debate and think over until the label on a bottle of XXXX starts to make reasonable sense.

    And these are the subjects that league fans will have a little less of later this month, after Rugby League Week magazine publishes its final issue.

    Unfortunately for the fans, this cornerstone publication, which has for 47 years focused on untangling, uncovering and publishing the best stories and commentary on the game, will be wound up on March 30.

    It’s not a good outcome for rugby league.

    I grew up with a stack of Rugby League Week magazines piled high in my cupboard. The huge posters of players and team photos covered the walls of my bedroom, while my favourite photos from the magazine articles covered my school books. Seeing Gorden Tallis and Terry Hill head-butting each other on the front cover of your Year 8 English book was always a great motivation to do your homework.

    I really can’t remember the last time I bought a copy of the magazine though, so over the weekend I went down to the newsagent to purchase one, and was amazed by what I read.

    Rugby League Week is football talk. Just football talk. In the 46 pages of feature profiles, state league analysis, throwback stories and opinion columns, there was nothing of the stories which have fueled much of the mainstream media’s dialogue on rugby league over the past few weeks.

    There was no mention of Bryce Cartwright’s off-field problems or Darius Boyd’s history of indiscretions (there was a Darius poster). In fact, I could find only three sentences dedicated to the ongoing Tim Simona drama – those comments came from Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach’s column, and who doesn’t want to hear what a Tigers legend has to say on that topic?

    But that was it. Oure rugby league, no garbage, no agendas, no gossip. There was even a page highlighting the best off-field stories from a few NRL teams. It was refreshing.

    You’re about as likely to see the words ‘respectable’ and ‘journalism’ alongside each other these days as you are to see a 49ers jersey walking down Church St Mall. But what Rugby League Week was seeking to achieve in this, their second-last issue, was exactly that: provide respectable journalism on the subject, minimise the nonsense.

    Sadly, I have to wonder how much the public’s infatuation with scandal – helped in no small part by the mainstream media’s willingness to feed into this narrative – has led to the magazine’s end. Is it possible that reporting on the game, and only the game, isn’t enough anymore?

    If so, it’s an incredibly sad reflection on the media landscape, in which scandalous stories and gossip columns survive at the expense of straightforward sporting analysis. It’s an issue for which there appear to be few viable and profitable answers for those who just want pure rugby league content.

    If the game’s primary sources of publicity are to come off the back of scandals and gossip, how long until the real fans become disillusioned altogether? Because without enough pure rugby league conversation and opinion, the rugby league fire becomes increasingly irrelevant.

    When the final issue of Rugby League Week is released later this month, we will be without a longstanding pillar of sporting journalism. It’s then up to the surviving media outlets to continue to feed the fire that keeps the game alive, by finding out who’s playing well, who’s not, and why.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 2:06pm
      The Barry said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

      I grew up on RLW and Big League as well but haven’t read either in magazine format for a while.

      I assume RLW will still have an on-line presence.

      Growing up I remember the RLW 10 ranking for a game was a great honour. I recall Sterlo getting two 10s. One was a game where he destroyed the Roosters in about 1987. Scored two tries and set up plenty more.

      By the way you’re not the Rhys Jack who played in the Bulldogs 2010 NSW cup winning team by any chance?

      • June 14th 2017 @ 9:38pm
        Rhys said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:38pm | ! Report

        Hi Barry,
        I sure am! apologies for the late response.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 20th 2017 @ 2:19pm
      Slickeel said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

      Great memories reading this magazine from the 70’s. A sad outcome for this top magazine. Unfortunately we now live in a digital age and its demise was inevitable. RIP Rugby league week.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 3:38pm
      matth said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

      RLW has been going downhill for a while. I bought my first issue in 1978 and used to collect them religiously. I guess they have suffered the falling circulation of many magazines, which cannot compete against online activity. Lets face it, I can get on the Roar for free.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 5:10pm
      AJ Mithen said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

      Nice one Rhys. I loved my RLW when I was growing up but it struck me how different the website was to the magazine. So much clickbait and listicles and garbage that was so far removed from the writing and stories in print, it might have been any generic aggregator site.
      Theres a huge market for decent rugby league coverage that doesn’t descend into hysterical gossip and slander… Someone just has to provide the forum!

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 5:22pm
        peeeko said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

        its online presence is click bait rubbish, the mag is still decent

    • March 20th 2017 @ 6:47pm
      Mike from tari said | March 20th 2017 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

      I stopped buying it about 4 years ago, my son plays Qld Cup & the write ups were very poor, this is why people stopped buying, when Jim Huxley used to write up the NSW Country they had 2 pages & Jim would travel all over getting stories, I lived in PNG for many many years &!it was very hard to get a copy, if they had dedicated a couple of pages to stories & results in PNG & distributed it properly they would have sold heaps, when I was flying in & out I would throw as many as I could in my bag & give them to my staff, by the end of the day they would be dog eared from so many people reading them, but back to Qld, 1/2 a page of Qld country & 1/2 a page of Qld Cup, was very poor, I even wrote to them complaining.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 7:44pm
      Cugel said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

      I have about 20 complete seasons, I stopped buying it (a long time ago though) because they kept making errors in the match reports e.g wrong scorers or lineups, and would never ever correct them.

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