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Brad H

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Expansion: The dirty word in rugby league

It was March 1995. Rugby league boldly marched into Perth and Auckland, announced it had arrived and put the other football codes on notice. The ARL has executed one of the most successful marketing campaigns in Australian sport, underpinning the game’s rise in popularity.

There is one in October. Bankwest Stadium.

Five changes that can grow rugby league’s global footprint

Hi Soda,

This is a good idea. I like it.

I can’t understand why we haven’t seen more NRL players from PNG come through.

Five changes that can grow rugby league’s global footprint

Hi Paul,

Regarding your questions:

1. A quota system could be a cap on the number of matches each player can play each year for their club. To be honest, I can’t see this suggestion ever getting up, but if the game really cared about player burnout, it would be an ongoing conversation.

52 players? No way! Lol. Just like the old kangaroo tours, where there would be the test team and a shadow player for each team member.

2. Both. I think both are achieved. I get that it is club football, not test football, but having the Australian brands go and play in England and possibly France promotes the international growth of the game.

3. The English and Kiwis scheduled a test in America last year (or was it 2017?) during an origin week. We already seen something similar a few weeks ago for the origin match in Perth when no club football was played and it worked really well.

4. The PNG Hunters won the QLD Cup in 2017 and there is a huge league following up there. Wellington have a history of solid rugby league crowds and they should have got their own team by now with a TV/streaming viewing audience of 840,000 for the NRL in New Zealand. Both cities have quality stadiums. It is a matter of both areas getting the green light from Todd “do nothing” Greenberg and the NRL to make this happen.

What I mean by ‘simple’ is, you wouldn’t have to promote rugby league and propogate the clubs for 20 years like the Melbourne Storm, or the Swans and Giants in the AFL. There is already an appetite. Of course there would be teething problems and growing pains but t wouldn’t be a mulit-generational project like the Storm has been.

5. The north americans bid for the 2021 World Cup and won the rights for the 2025 World Cup. They have since had the rights taken off them and a new bidding process has started. However, the crowds Toronto are getting at a dilapidated ground show that this event can work if promoted right and if underwritten by people like Eric Perez. Considering what he has achieved in such a short period of time, the RLIF could do alot worse. The game needs people like him involved and encouraged.

Five changes that can grow rugby league’s global footprint

Peter, I openly criticised the way the NRL is handling player safety at the moment. The point I was making was that this article is using rugby as a shining example of player safety when it is not.

In the Bledisloe Cup match on Saturday night, was the Wallabies player hit high sent for a HIA? Is this a protocol in rugby like it is in the NRL? I don’t recall the player hit late going off for any medical checks.

Union head and shoulders above league for player welfare

Paul,

Brisbane has one team, Sydney has nine.

More teams means less quality football. There’s not enough NRL standard players for more than 16 teams.

The tale of the NRL's two neglected cities

You make some very good points. Moylan was unconscious before he hit the ground. A high shot like Burgess’s hit has the potential to kill someone.

I am seeing more foul play creep back into league. Late hits, crusher tackles and deliberate thuggery. I never thought I would see eye-gouging return but under Greenberg’s “do nothing” leadership style it has been allowed to.

But not all is rosy in rugby. Three players in the French rugby competition have died in the last year. The very nature of their game is high risk. At least league doesn’t have rucks and mauls that resemble a free for all street fight. 120kg players charging in to the ruck with defenceless players that are static is more dangerous than anything you see in league.

Union head and shoulders above league for player welfare

Marco, I think you are comparing apples to oranges. Sydney people are very different to people in the other capital cities and the circumstances here in Sydney are completely different to Perth.

Look at the attendances for ALL sporting teams across ALL codes in Sydney for evening games.

People don’t like going to football at night and don’t want to leave their suburbs on the weekends. There is also the cost of living here as well, which compounds the issue.

The tale of the NRL's two neglected cities

Seriously, how on Earth can anybody compare the benefits of a new team in Perth or Ipswich/Logan to a new club in Gosford?

Central Coast: 300,000 approx
Perth: 1.5 million approx
Brisbane: 2 million approx

Central Coast fans shouldn’t have to grin and Bear it

Mbp,

This proposal would be absolutely disastrous! People would leave the game in Sydney in droves.

Two teams in Auckland and Melbourne? You serious?

The game would just be making the same mistakes it made trying to merge and relocate teams during the Superleague war.

The tale of the NRL's two neglected cities

And what wasn’t mentioned was the number of Souths fans at the game. Most likely drove up the F3.

The tale of the NRL's two neglected cities

Paul,

No, it’s not. Pitting another team in NSW is saturation, not expansion.

The tale of the NRL's two neglected cities

Spot on Matthew. Expansion is more than a one hour drive to Gosford.

The tale of the NRL's two neglected cities

I agree. Essentially, the Central Coast would be another Sydney team. Gosford is the same distance as Penrith from the Sydney CBD. Perth offers a new market for TV broadcasters and sponsorship exposure.

The tale of the NRL's two neglected cities

17 games? Are you serious?

What would Channel 9 and Fox do about losing 30% of the regular season content? They would cut the TV money by that same percentage.

Let’s see what the elite players would say about a massive pay cut.

The tale of the NRL's two neglected cities

Expansion is an issue that the league is luke warm on for a number of reasons. I wrote an article on this last week:

Expansion: The dirty word in rugby league

Ultimately, the decision if/when a new city or region gets a team in to the competition will be made on which is the most value-adding. The NRL would consider broadcasters, sponsorship and financial viability I would imagine in their decision.

Unfortunately for the Central Coast, the NRL does not gain anything from a team in Gosford. The area already has a large audience watching NRL on Fox and Channel 9. People up there already have a team outside of the region they would follow through broadcasters. It is also only 50 minutes drive up the F3 from nine Sydney clubs and there are bigger fish to fry in Perth and Queensland.

History tells us that regions struggle. Look at Illawarra. The Illawarra region is bigger than the Central Coast and it couldn’t sustain a team on its own. The Gold Coast, Newcastle and Macarthur areas have all had their fair share of failures and struggles as well.

I think that you are wrong about the Sydney crowd problem. The real issue with crowds is scheduling and the game day experience for the pricetag. Sydney is an afternoon sporting market. Night matches on Thursday, Friday and Saturday notoriously attract terrible Sydney crowds because there are other things to do in Sydney at those times that doesn’t involve freezing in 9 degrees weather. On the other hand, many people object to paying the price to watch live footy either at dilapidated suburban grounds or on the other side of the city, especially considering the amount of commuting the average Sydneyside does Monday to Friday.

The tale of the NRL's two neglected cities

Liquorbox, a very good point about broadcasters not accepting of it, if there was no NRL presence in Brisbane as a consequence.

Could the NRL survive promotion and relegation?

Max Power,

Another comment on yet another forum from you with no substance to justify the statement.

Could the NRL survive promotion and relegation?

Greg,

I agree 100%. I highlighted this in the article as a key factor.

Could the NRL survive promotion and relegation?

Some good points Peter Piper.

Could the NRL survive promotion and relegation?

Well Adam, when you look at the PROS and CONS of an issue, that’s the idea! 50/50 treatment!

Could the NRL survive promotion and relegation?

Adam Bagnall,
If you actually read the article properly before insulting me, you would have read that the points you make are exactly what I say are prohibitive factors in promotion-relegation! Where in this article am I advocating for, or endorsing a promotion-relegation system?
What is “poorly thought out” is your I’ll-conceived feedback. But I should not expect anything less from someone who thinks State of Origin is bad for rugby league.
Go and learn how to read and comprehend texts properly before you take aim at me.

Could the NRL survive promotion and relegation?

My dad used to talk about the VFA (he was from Melbourne originally). He said it rivalled the old VFL for quality.

Could the NRL survive promotion and relegation?

Spot on mate.

Could the NRL survive promotion and relegation?

Promotion-relegation hasn’t been tried for a national top-flight competition to my knowledge?

Was the old VFL before the nationalisation a promotion-relegation competition? I didn’t know that admittedly.

Could the NRL survive promotion and relegation?

Hi Matth,
First of all, I am not advocating or proposing the model in this article, or any promotion-relegation model for that matter. Just purely looking at the pros and cons of promotion-relegation with the model that seems to be thrown around in discussions. I will try to answer your questions:
1. Top level clubs release or loan players to lower tier clubs in European football and the Super League for a fee all the time. For example, Penrith might release or lend a back rower not being used at the moment to a club in the second tier in exchange for a transfer fee, or loan fee. Seeing that there are currently 16 teams in the NRL, if the NRL was to be reduced to 12, players at relegated clubs may seek a release or transfer to stay in the NRL with another club. This would force players out of clubs and facilitate player movement between NRL clubs and second tier competition clubs.
2. Very good question. These arrangements would be disbanded. For example, you would imagine that some of the big clubs in the NSW and Qld Cups would want to try to get into the NRL. The existing arrangements change almost on a year to year basis. Newtown for example, have been a feeder club to many different NRL clubs over the years.
3. The example used in the article was national, possibly with an international presence.
4. Yes. It would have to be fully professional with a lower cap than the NRL. The NRL would need to redirect revenue from the NRL to subsidise the second tier competition for it to work. I agree that this kind of funding arrangement would create a dogfight between the NRL and its clubs.
5. Regarding travel and accomodation for traveling teams, the NRL could find an official airline and hotel to sponsor the cost of all 24 teams. This is what Toronto Wolfpack have in place in the British competition. Toronto pay for the travel and accomodation of British clubs through a sponsorship arrangement.
6. Very good question. I mentioned this problem in the article. The relegation of the Warriors or Melbourne or the Gold Coast would kill those clubs and subsequently, rugby league in those places. I guess any promotion-relegation model would need to have immunity from relegation for strategically important clubs.

Could the NRL survive promotion and relegation?