NRL fans must embrace membership culture

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By NF, NF is a Roar Guru

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    It may be the NRL off-season but it’s the perfect time to go and get a membership to support your team.

    For a long time memberships seemed foreign to us league supporters, as the general opinion a while ago was sitting on the couch is enough ‘support’ for your team. But that is not the case at all.

    Rather, that attitude is just laziness and as result empty seats seem to be a common occurrence of the ‘TV sport’ mindset that has plagued my fellow rugby league fans.

    The only true way to support your team is through a membership, whether it’s a non-ticketed or seasoned membership. At least your showing your support that way.

    When you consider the history of rugby league in Australia, in particular in Sydney, the membership numbers and attendance should be way higher.

    But laziness of the league administration and the supporters contribute to the slow uptake of the development of a membership and attendance culture.

    The correlation of membership and attendance shows that more members means higher attendance. The AFL over the past decades has proven that and the same should happen to the NRL.

    It will never reach the level of AFL but over time it will get better and soon everyone from club to fans will benefit from it.

    I’ve been a North Queensland Cowboys member for two years and soon to be three in 2013.

    Being a member is where the true supporters are as they are the most committed about the great game of rugby league.

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    The Crowd Says (73)

    • December 7th 2012 @ 7:14am
      James said | December 7th 2012 @ 7:14am | ! Report

      Good article.

      Membership numbers have been going up for a few years now and the ARLC is aiming for large increases by 2017.

      Agree we won’t get close to afl/nfl numbers, but it’s a work in progress.

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      • December 7th 2012 @ 11:06am
        NF said | December 7th 2012 @ 11:06am | ! Report

        A work in progress is better than nothing James like in the past where the clubs and administration just did nothing but rely on poker machines.

      • December 10th 2012 @ 6:30am
        von neumann said | December 10th 2012 @ 6:30am | ! Report

        I do not like this “will never reach the level of the afl” business you speak of.

        must we talk so negatively or with an inferiority complex so much.

        • December 10th 2012 @ 3:56pm
          NF said | December 10th 2012 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

          I’m being realistic von when you consider the fact that league fans are known for there laziness & the infamous ‘tv sport’ excuse. Another example is Manly, who despite all there success the past couples of years fail to sell out Brookvale, and come finals time continually embarrass the NRL with there pathetic crowds (vs Cowboys (11,12) despite achieving premierships.

          I do expect memberships/attendance of the NRL to increase over time but it won’t match the AFL at all due to it being embedded in there culture. The current ‘culture’ of NRL fans is sitting on the couch is ‘support’ for there team when it reality it contributes nothing to the team by not being at the game itself, so in the next couples of years the NRL need to get rid of the ‘tv sport’ culture and heavily promote attending a game in person not watching it on tv.

          • December 12th 2012 @ 1:46pm
            von neumann said | December 12th 2012 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

            ok then. I think the coming years will see the gap close significantly, but I never say never.

            • December 12th 2012 @ 2:13pm
              NF said | December 12th 2012 @ 2:13pm | ! Report


              League fans better get out to the game and get memberships en mass over the couple of years to close the gap. We shall see I expect increases in remember year by year aleast, same with attendance as it’s correlated high membership = high attendance. League fans need to hold up there end of the bargain by showing up to games for once not just sit on the couch which is not ‘support’.

              • December 12th 2012 @ 4:21pm
                oikee said | December 12th 2012 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

                There has been huge growth in memberships. Last thing we want is them forced down people’s throat’s.
                Some clubs have grown 500% over the last 5-6 years.
                Our culture is still catching up to memberships. No need to push. The game and the growth along with our players now more connected to the fans is and will grow the game.
                I think our memberships are very good now compared to our growd figures. ?
                What i mean is our crowds can number 200 thousand and our memberships might only number 200 thousand.
                So it is now up to future real growth and allow natural membership growth to happen.
                Which is happening.

              • December 12th 2012 @ 4:34pm
                NF said | December 12th 2012 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

                ‘Our culture is still catching up to memberships.’ oikee the fact it took til the late 2000’s for the NRL to embrace memberships from a 100+ year competition show how backwards and incompetently run rugby league has been the past couple of decades. For every other code, memberships go part and parcel with the code for decades, it only took rugby league til now to finally get the message. Talk about slow oikee those damn dinosaurs as you say.

    • December 7th 2012 @ 7:33am
      Scott minto said | December 7th 2012 @ 7:33am | ! Report

      But why do I have to be a member to be a true fan? I understand that memberships can provide money directly to the clubs, however what about those of us who work and have kids? It’s often very difficult for us to find the time or money after working all week, and then running round after the kids on the weekend. I still buy a jersey every few years and attend the odd game but membership just isn’t something for me

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      • December 10th 2012 @ 10:09am
        Bring Back the Bears said | December 10th 2012 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        Most clubs offer 3-4 game memberships now as well as supporter memberships that are for people who can’t make games.

    • December 7th 2012 @ 7:35am
      Terra Dactel said | December 7th 2012 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      Membership has not been a foreign concept to league fans. It has merely taken a different form to that used in AFL. The model may be seen as wrong today but in the 1960s & 70s it was very popular facility & entertainment provider and thus profitable. League fans were encouraged to take out membership of their team’s leagues club which then funded the team’s football club. This benefited the fans & the team. So NRL does have a culture of membership which can be tapped into & changed to a model around football club membership.

    • December 7th 2012 @ 7:39am
      Pot Stirrer said | December 7th 2012 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      The problem as i see it is the price is to high. They should have an introductory $20 membership to get people to just sign so they can say they are members. Then if they are happy with what they feel they get then maybe they will go to the next level of membership the next time round. I live in the country and i signed up for season 2011 but didnt get a chance to go to sydney to use my tickets. Its all well and good to say the fans need to join to be real fans but the clubs need to be more proactive in building thier members. If they offer a cheap first time membership or just a claytons style for $20 then they will know who to target to get them to go to the next level of membership.

      • December 7th 2012 @ 9:35am
        Renegade said | December 7th 2012 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Pot Stirrer,

        You would probably be better off purchasing an “Internet Membership” or “Interstate/Rural Membership” than a full season pass.

        I know Cronulla have something for everyone in their membership brochure.

    • Columnist

      December 7th 2012 @ 8:10am
      Dane Eldridge said | December 7th 2012 @ 8:10am | ! Report


      If the NRL is going to rise to a height anywhere near that of the AFL, then dormant fan bases need to start coughing up.

      Anyone got a fifty I can borrow?

    • December 7th 2012 @ 8:31am
      Australian Rules said | December 7th 2012 @ 8:31am | ! Report

      “The correlation of membership and attendance shows that more members means higher attendance.”

      This is true. If you like watching your team, buy your membership. If you prefer the telly, don’t.

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