League World Cup less hyped than Lebanese sausage

Matt Cleary Columnist

By Matt Cleary, Matt Cleary is a Roar Expert

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88 Have your say

    Maybe it’s because the games are on Channel Seven.

    Outside of the Melbourne Cup, the sum total of programs I’d watch in a year on Channel Seven is zero with a bullet – it’s full of gibbering, dead-eyed professional posers coiffed like pro preachers – it’s television that makes you ever more stupid the longer you look at it.

    Maybe it’s living in Sydney which is hosting just two Rugby League World Cup games because the events mob didn’t bid very hard for games because they had other things to spend money on, like… I don’t know. Things. That train to the race track, say, or some more roads.

    Maybe it’s cricket season and you wonder if Glenn Maxwell will bat six, or three, or eight, and why they continue to pick Glenn Maxwell. I like the man but he can’t bat three for Australia in Test cricket, there should be a law.

    Maybe it’s because I have to come up with a column about England and there’s only so many times you can crack gags about a dud Joe Root and how Stuie Broad looks like that evil kid Malfoy from Harry Potter.

    Maybe it’s the middle of the Spring Racing Carnival (oh, Johannes Vermeer, my babies gots to eat).

    Maybe the Australian Open golf’s on soon and I just got a start in the Pro-Am on the Wednesday and the Emirates Marquee on the Thursday, and not to brag, ha, much, but I have thought of little else since.

    And maybe a few other things. Insert your own here, the forum’s floor is yours.

    James Tedesco Italy Rugby League World Cup 2017

    (NRL Photos / Scott Davis)

    Whatever it is, from this fat faux-leather couch on these our Lord Mr Lillee’s northern beaches, so muted is the ‘feel’ of this rugby league World Cup that it’s like… casual league watchers could fair dinkum be forgiven for wondering if the blessed thing is even on.

    I know it’s on. I’ve watched the odd game.

    But you know what I mean. Do you know what I mean? Genuine question.

    I’ve been consuming my usual diet of sport on Fox Sports News, the ABC and SBS. Little bit of Nine.

    And… I dunno. Maybe it’s just me. But it’s been a dry old argument, hasn’t it? It’s mute. And moot. Maybe not moot. I don’t think that word fits in here.

    But the World Cup’s just… it’s not getting a whole lotta press, is it?

    Not to say the footy hasn’t been pretty good.

    The Poms were pretty good against Australia, and with a bit of luck might’ve snuck off with it.

    They’ve got some players, the Poms. That winger Mcgillvary? Like him. Good that Sammy Burgess will be back. Really like Widdop, Graham. Quite like the Poms.

    Billy Slater makes a break

    (AAP Image/David Crosling)

    The French, too, in relative terms, were pretty good against Australia despite it seeming they gave away 20 kilograms and a head per man. And it might sound counter-intuitive but 52-6 wasn’t as bad a blow-out as feared.

    Lebanon versus England was good, there’s plenty of feeling among the men under that Cedars crest, they look like they’re playing for each other. Liking Lebanon.

    Papua New Guinea versus Ireland in Port Moresby was cracking sports theatre. The Fijians singing in the sheds and pre-game, the harmonies of these giant men named after body-guards, beautiful stuff.

    And Tonga-Samoa, the respective cultural challenges, followed by all the boys forming a circle and taking a knee. Top stuff.

    But… I dunno. It’s all a bit… mute, isn’t it? It’s like the promotions people or PR types aren’t getting messages out. Like the players aren’t being put forward or chased for comment.

    Maybe rival media – Nine, Ten, dear sweet SBS – don’t want to give any leg-up to a competitive rival.

    Maybe Fox is miffed Channel Seven aren’t sharing like they always seem to with Nine in league.

    I fair dinkum sat on the couch watching Fox Sports News all Thursday night, and the only ‘World Cup’ news was Cooper Cronk wishing the Socceroos well in the qualifier against Honduras.

    There’s one Fox footy panel show. In footy season it’s like there’s 30.

    Matt Moylan’s move to the Sharks got a bit. That annual exercise in voyeurism, All Blacks versus Kangaroos in a hybrid game, got another minute or so. (If that ever happens I’ll walk to Cronulla.)

    But the World Cup… nothin’.

    I’m no David Gyngell or Kerry Stokes or ghost of the great Goanna, but surely if you want to get people watching the thing – and for a television station you’d assume that’s their prime indeed only reason for existence – shouldn’t it be on all the time? Or at least a lot?

    Cooper Cronk

    (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    The Big Bash League in the summer, that sucker’s on every night. That’s the beauty of it. Come prime time in summer you pop the top off a tinnie and sit back and get entertained.

    Channel Nine makes you think summer is cricket. Those people are experts at drumming up interest.

    But the Rugby League World Cup is on intermittently on Seven’s digital channel 7Mate which is 188 on the Fox machine, and I struggled to find it. And when I did I turned it on Thursday night at 8:30 and there was Tommy Lee Jones in Captain America.

    Content is king, they say, and Channel Seven’s league content in prime time Thursday night was Captain America.

    Then in the ads there was a ‘Seven Sports Update’ – feasting on the nation’s love of the punt – which mentioned Pinot winning the Oaks, an oft-concussed St Kilda player riding a mountain bike, and Timmy Cahill jogging lightly on his ankle in Honduras.

    Rugby League World Cup? Not a Lebanese sausage.

    Anyway. I dunno. Maybe it’ll get sexy soon. Maybe England versus New Zealand, Tonga versus New Zealand, Lebanon versus Australia will pump the nads and have the media – and through them we the nation – excited.

    But it’s all a bit… what’s that word the kids were using on the Twitter for a bit?

    So far it’s all a bit myeah. Or meh. One of them.

    Matt Cleary
    Matt Cleary

    Matt Cleary is a sports writer from Sydney. He enjoys golf, footy and Four Pines Pale Ale, and spends as much time as conscience allows at Long Reef GC. Tweet him @journomatcleary, or read him at his website.

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    The Crowd Says (88)

    • November 10th 2017 @ 12:06pm
      Shaun said | November 10th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

      Maybe its because it is spread between 3 countries that the hype is more spread out or something?
      I live in PNG though and went to the PNG v Ireland game, and it was one of the most exciting sports games ive been to. The atmosphere was electric and the hype in PNG around the world cup is huge. Maybe it is just reflecting the fading of the game in Australia to other codes?

    • Roar Rookie

      November 10th 2017 @ 12:35pm
      catcat said | November 10th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

      I have watched a few games too (and enjoyed them) but the commentary and hosting on channel 7 has been well below par.
      I think Fox do a fantastic job with the NRL, and would have done a great job with hosting this tournament.

      • Roar Rookie

        November 10th 2017 @ 12:42pm
        Bunney said | November 10th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

        Maybe the commentating is below par, but it’s been great to hear some points of difference to Ch9 coverage.

        I dunno what you’re complaining about Matt. I’ve liked it. More footy on FTA than during the regular season. Awesome.

        • November 10th 2017 @ 2:21pm
          beepee said | November 10th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

          Yes, it is just you, Matt. Make a slight effort to get into it, and you’ll find that many are finding it excellent. The games are better and less lopsided than previous World Cups, the crowds have been good (excellent in PNG and NZ), and the telecast is much better than you suggest. Almost every game has been shown live, so how does that translate to poor coverage? And you admit to a number of good games – what else were you expecting? Free jelly beans?

          • November 10th 2017 @ 7:40pm
            Matt Cleary said | November 10th 2017 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

            As I said, I’m enjoying the footy. I wrote it. The footy’s good. It’s the publicity surrounding it I find underwhelming. The press. The greater vibe / buzz of the thing. I watched Fox Sports News for two hours Thursday night, it wasn’t mentioned. I turned onto Channel 7, the RLWC host broadcaster, they had a movie on, Captain America, on their digital channel and some other thing, assume a cooking show or soemthing, on the main one. There was a Channel Seven Sports Update news flash, they didn’t mention the World Cup. But you’re right – crowds are pretty good. The games have been good. There’ll be plenty of competitive tension. But the reportage of the thing … any league news is about NRL player transfers. Why aren’t the World Cup stories being told?

        • November 10th 2017 @ 10:58pm
          Sydney said | November 10th 2017 @ 10:58pm | ! Report

          Cant see all the Games its a world cup that aintn about going to the game its about invigorating the millions of fans around the world to get in & back their team go to your local during a game im in Brizzy & no one is wearing team colors at the pub on game night channel 7 has royally screwed this up look how the Rugby world cup is run & televised aussie have this notion that a strong NRL is all the game needs WRONG if it keeps going this way the game will die sure it will carry on in oz & nz along with the poms but thats about it thats the stae of the game as it is today cant even be bothered sparking up the BBQ just watch the highlights on line

    • November 10th 2017 @ 12:59pm
      Taurangaboy said | November 10th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

      I’m waiting for league and union to merge so we can have SUPERFOOTY ! It’s time !

      • November 10th 2017 @ 4:41pm
        Shaun said | November 10th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

        The All Blacks vs the Kangaroos… in an NFL game! Boom!

        • Roar Rookie

          November 11th 2017 @ 1:17pm
          Kreig Leitchze said | November 11th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          😀 Now THAT’S entertainment!

      • November 11th 2017 @ 9:38pm
        Katipo said | November 11th 2017 @ 9:38pm | ! Report

        The merger of league and union would happen if league applied to join World Rugby. How good would that be? But it will never happen due to egos.

        One thing people say is that league attack and defence is better than union. Kangaroos are awesome players but I don’t buy that about the sports. 15 man rugby is hard. I would like to see a 13 man Kangaroos play a 15 man all blacks to demonstrate just how much stronger both the attack and defence are with 15 a side.

        And if there is a Super Footy merger of codes (or AB ‘roos exhibition) let’s go with rugby union rules, 13-a-side, and just get on with it.

        That’s my 2 cents.

    • November 10th 2017 @ 12:59pm
      Tom English said | November 10th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

      From what I’ve seen of the tournament, I thought the coverage was very good. Certainly better than CH9’s debacle during the NRL season

    • November 10th 2017 @ 1:00pm
      Magic Lyrebird said | November 10th 2017 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

      I don’t watch or listen to the mainstream news, but am surprised and sad to hear it’s not getting much coverage. But I have been disappointed to hear the RLWC barely get a mention on the bits of ABC’s grandstand I’ve listened to lately. In my world the world cup has been HUGE, and I’m mega excited about the weekend’s games! I went to the Australia France game, which was a fantastic event (& got a pretty good crowd, I thought), and am sorry not to be going to Fiji v. Italy tonight – it should be a corker. The Tonga Samoa pre-match cultural challenge was one of the best pieces of sporting ‘theatre’ I’ve ever seen, and I really enjoyed the PNG Ireland game too – the PNG team ran like they’d been fired out of a catapult, the Irish never gave up.

      • November 10th 2017 @ 7:46pm
        Matt Cleary said | November 10th 2017 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

        Ireland PNG was a ripper. They’re the sort of games a World Cup can dish up. Evenly matched passion players belting each other for sheep stations.

    • November 10th 2017 @ 1:06pm
      League Man said | November 10th 2017 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

      Australia v England game reached 2.59 million viewers and averaged 1.4 million nationally.

      I think the last Bledisloe Cup rated about 700k

      • November 10th 2017 @ 1:22pm
        Terry Tavita said | November 10th 2017 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

        yea, but the last bled had a crowd of 45k and the league opener had less than half that..

        • November 10th 2017 @ 3:01pm
          Sham said | November 10th 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

          If I accept your numbers one game had around 3 million viewers and another had 750k. Not much of a comparison really.

        • November 10th 2017 @ 4:53pm
          Albo said | November 10th 2017 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

          Please Terry ! The RLWC opener was held in that Rugby League stronghold of Melbourne , at a ground that could only hold 20,000 odd . The 3 million viewers on tele , showed the game is not going too bad.

          • November 10th 2017 @ 9:49pm
            Andrew said | November 10th 2017 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

            Albo the ground holds 30k and the tv Audience peaked at 2 million.
            What is it with you lot and the truth??

            • November 10th 2017 @ 10:40pm
              Justin Kearney said | November 10th 2017 @ 10:40pm | ! Report

              Game peaked at 2.59 million andrew. What is it with you and the truth?

          • November 10th 2017 @ 10:26pm
            Peter Phelps said | November 10th 2017 @ 10:26pm | ! Report

            I was at Ammi park for the opener and it looked empty. It may have been the $140 a ticket (that I paid) that reduced the gates but it paled against your average Storm game at the same ground. Promotion of the series has been Nil down here.

            The NRL / International board need to recruit a few marketeers.

            • November 10th 2017 @ 10:41pm
              Justin Kearney said | November 10th 2017 @ 10:41pm | ! Report

              I was also at the melbourne opener peter and it looked 80% full which it was.

            • Roar Rookie

              November 11th 2017 @ 1:18pm
              Kreig Leitchze said | November 11th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

              Are you serious?! It was $140 for a ticket!

              Well, I love live footy, but I wouldn’t have paid that either.

        • November 11th 2017 @ 3:37pm
          Mitcher said | November 11th 2017 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

          As neither a rugby nor league disciple. I can verify terry has just made the most dense, nonsensical argument in the history of this fine forum.

      • November 10th 2017 @ 11:02pm
        Sydney said | November 10th 2017 @ 11:02pm | ! Report

        try comparing your numbers to the Rugby World Cup you will come up WAY SHORT

      • November 10th 2017 @ 11:43pm
        Rugby365 said | November 10th 2017 @ 11:43pm | ! Report

        There really is no need to add rugby into this. There is no comparing the two when it comes to internationals and world cups but I’m enjoying the World Cup for what is. Just great seeing the passion from the players and fans enjoy the game they love.

        • November 11th 2017 @ 8:42am
          Jimmmy said | November 11th 2017 @ 8:42am | ! Report

          Great comment. All else is irrelevant if the game is played with passion and commitment. Everything else is immaterial.

        • November 11th 2017 @ 3:38pm
          Mitcher said | November 11th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

          Exactly it’s irrelevant. Enjoy it or don’t.

          Unless you’re a football (soccer) then all world cups are a joke.

          Just enjoy it.

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