Rugby league could prosper and thrive all over the world if it was given the attention and resources it needs.
I’ve been a passionate rugby league fan from America for over five years and it has had a huge impact on my life, giving me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people that I am proud to call my friends.
It has also allowed me to travel to places like Denver, Colorado to see the New Zealand vs England Test at Mile High Stadium in 2018.
I hope the game will continue to grow all over the world so that people can see how great it truly is.
But I have a few suggestions that could help grow the game overseas.
The biggest issue getting in the way of rugby league’s growth internationally is the lack of options to watch the matches.
Currently, the only way to watch matches overseas is through the international streaming subscription called WatchNRL. While the service is great, it is also incredibly expensive, costing $US169 for the 12-month pass, which equates to $AUD240.
For comparison, if you paid for Kayo for the NRL season’s seven months, you would only have to pay $AU175, which would also get you access to every other sport you would want to watch.
The price to watch the NRL might turn people away from potentially becoming lifelong fans of the sport. Personally, I wouldn’t have got into the sport if this had been the case when I first started following. Luckily, I could watch for free when I first started.
I will never forget watching my first live game – the Round 3 match between Souths and the Dragons at the SCG in 2016. I hope many others from all across the world can feel the thrill and excitement of watching a game of live rugby league for the first time.
If it’s possible, lowering the price of the WatchNRL subscription would go a long way in helping the greatest game of all to spread around the globe
Another thing that the NRL could do to grow the game is broadcast more games on TV in overseas markets.
Back in March of 2020, when most sports were still shut down, NRL games were shown on US television. This was a great first step in introducing more people to the game.
To build on that, I would suggest that the NRL try to reach a broadcasting deal with ESPN. The AFL used to have a deal with ESPN – I remember watching an Essendon vs Richmond game at 5am and being fascinated by it.
The NRL securing a deal like this would increase the numbers of international viewers significantly.
The game has the potential to spread across the globe. I hope that the ARL Commission and NRL can see that and will act on it.