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Posted by bramleyrhino on Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:07 am
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What's pretty striking in all of these types of discussions is how the detractors of expansion (and there are credible reasons to be a detractor) have lots of reasons why expansion can't work, won't work or shouldn't be allowed to work, but have very few solutions or suggestions on an alternative.

The RL community, and this forum is no different, has lots of people yelling "focus on the heartlands" but when you press them on what this actually means, they've got nothing.

The sport has been "focusing on the heartlands" for more than 120 years and that approach has got the sport to where it is today - lacking relevance, lacking exposure, lacking players and lacking finance. What kind of "focusing on the heartlands" would yield a different result? The people shouting this must have an idea, surely?

Expansion is not the goal here, it is simply the mechanism. The goal should be to get more people playing, watching and enjoying the sport in a way that makes it financially sustainable as a modern professional entity and if the heartland clubs were showing that they could consistently do that, expansion is not even on the agenda.
I wish everyone would read bramleyrhino's post two or three times just to get it through some thick skulls


Mr bramleyrhino speaks a lot of sense.


Jamie Jones-Buchanan wrote:
"I'd never forgive myself if a child of mine was born in Lancashire.
Posted by Levrier on Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:11 am
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The USA has roller derby teams with more financial backing than some of our SuperLeague teams but Rugby of either code struggle. Association Football survives more because it is seen as being accessible to both sexes and is often supported more by middle class Soccer Moms which gives it the grass roots appeal. Rugby league does not have that so unless we can bring in national TV coverage we will struggle to get a foothold. The TV market in The USA is still segmented regionally with cable still dominant and in the internet age they are unlikely to ever develop the kind of all encompassing national TV system that we are used to. What we need is someone who can see into the future. If we find that person can we ask them for the winning lottery numbers?
Posted by MGarbutt1986 on Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:00 pm
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Levrier wrote:
The USA has roller derby teams with more financial backing than some of our SuperLeague teams but Rugby of either code struggle. Association Football survives more because it is seen as being accessible to both sexes and is often supported more by middle class Soccer Moms which gives it the grass roots appeal. Rugby league does not have that so unless we can bring in national TV coverage we will struggle to get a foothold. The TV market in The USA is still segmented regionally with cable still dominant and in the internet age they are unlikely to ever develop the kind of all encompassing national TV system that we are used to. What we need is someone who can see into the future. If we find that person can we ask them for the winning lottery numbers?

yay, another new Jean facade
Posted by wrencat1873 on Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:23 pm
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bramleyrhino wrote:
What's pretty striking in all of these types of discussions is how the detractors of expansion (and there are credible reasons to be a detractor) have lots of reasons why expansion can't work, won't work or shouldn't be allowed to work, but have very few solutions or suggestions on an alternative.

The RL community, and this forum is no different, has lots of people yelling "focus on the heartlands" but when you press them on what this actually means, they've got nothing.

The sport has been "focusing on the heartlands" for more than 120 years and that approach has got the sport to where it is today - lacking relevance, lacking exposure, lacking players and lacking finance. What kind of "focusing on the heartlands" would yield a different result? The people shouting this must have an idea, surely?

Expansion is not the goal here, it is simply the mechanism. The goal should be to get more people playing, watching and enjoying the sport in a way that makes it financially sustainable as a modern professional entity and if the heartland clubs were showing that they could consistently do that, expansion is not even on the agenda.


Expansion in the UK has failed due to lack of will to make it happen and more importantly, the lack of serious cash to make it a success plus, if you go back a little way, expansion was foiled at every turn by dark forces from the other code which, had they worked as hard to solve the broken time payments issue, would have meant that RL would never have been a sport.

Interesting that you site "lack of players" and yet bang the drum for the N. American sides to entice players from over here to fill their roster.

Unfortunately, Union, with its seemingly endless supply of cash is smothering our sport and you have schools in Yorkshire being promised grants from Union to encourage some schools to drop RL from their curriculum but, we mustn't play the victim . :oops:

RL showed it's true colours when allowing Sheffield to "merge" with Huddersfield and Gateshead to "merge" with Hull but, fundamentally, we suffer through lack of cash / investment.

There should be a grown up discussion on where the sport would like to be in 5 /10/ 20 years time but, this either doesn't happen at all or it's on the bag fag packet in our new leaders pocket.

Yourself and others bang on about us having had 120 years to do whatever and I would suggest that RL greatest achievement has been to help Union go global.
By "stealing their players on a regular basis through the 70', 80's and 90's, they decided to turn their "amateur" game into a pro sport and sadly, with the huge resources at their disposal, RL has become ever more marginalised.

The game hasn't had any kind of proper plan for over 40 years and until some of those, who are paid significant money actually hatch a realistic way forward, change will not happen.
Posted by MGarbutt1986 on Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:50 pm
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wrencat1873 wrote:
Expansion in the UK has failed due to lack of will to make it happen and more importantly, the lack of serious cash to make it a success plus, if you go back a little way, expansion was foiled at every turn by dark forces from the other code which, had they worked as hard to solve the broken time payments issue, would have meant that RL would never have been a sport.

Interesting that you site "lack of players" and yet bang the drum for the N. American sides to entice players from over here to fill their roster.

Unfortunately, Union, with its seemingly endless supply of cash is smothering our sport and you have schools in Yorkshire being promised grants from Union to encourage some schools to drop RL from their curriculum but, we mustn't play the victim . :oops:

RL showed it's true colours when allowing Sheffield to "merge" with Huddersfield and Gateshead to "merge" with Hull but, fundamentally, we suffer through lack of cash / investment.

There should be a grown up discussion on where the sport would like to be in 5 /10/ 20 years time but, this either doesn't happen at all or it's on the bag fag packet in our new leaders pocket.

Yourself and others bang on about us having had 120 years to do whatever and I would suggest that RL greatest achievement has been to help Union go global.
By "stealing their players on a regular basis through the 70', 80's and 90's, they decided to turn their "amateur" game into a pro sport and sadly, with the huge resources at their disposal, RL has become ever more marginalised.

The game hasn't had any kind of proper plan for over 40 years and until some of those, who are paid significant money actually hatch a realistic way forward, change will not happen.

more utter bollox, at least tomorrow is pension day.
Posted by bramleyrhino on Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:12 pm
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wrencat1873 wrote:
Expansion in the UK has failed due to lack of will to make it happen and more importantly, the lack of serious cash to make it a success plus, if you go back a little way, expansion was foiled at every turn by dark forces from the other code which, had they worked as hard to solve the broken time payments issue, would have meant that RL would never have been a sport.

Interesting that you site "lack of players" and yet bang the drum for the N. American sides to entice players from over here to fill their roster.

Unfortunately, Union, with its seemingly endless supply of cash is smothering our sport and you have schools in Yorkshire being promised grants from Union to encourage some schools to drop RL from their curriculum but, we mustn't play the victim . :oops:

RL showed it's true colours when allowing Sheffield to "merge" with Huddersfield and Gateshead to "merge" with Hull but, fundamentally, we suffer through lack of cash / investment.

There should be a grown up discussion on where the sport would like to be in 5 /10/ 20 years time but, this either doesn't happen at all or it's on the bag fag packet in our new leaders pocket.

Yourself and others bang on about us having had 120 years to do whatever and I would suggest that RL greatest achievement has been to help Union go global.
By "stealing their players on a regular basis through the 70', 80's and 90's, they decided to turn their "amateur" game into a pro sport and sadly, with the huge resources at their disposal, RL has become ever more marginalised.

The game hasn't had any kind of proper plan for over 40 years and until some of those, who are paid significant money actually hatch a realistic way forward, change will not happen.


Again, we have lots of problems, lots of excuses, but not a lot of ideas to change things for the better.

There are various reasons why certain expansion ventures have failed but lets not pretend that heartland clubs are any less vulnerable to the whims of benevolent owners. The situation at Leigh last year is evidence of that. I don't think you could accuse David Argyle of lacking the will to make it succeed at Toronto, or Leighton Samuel of lacking the will to make Celtic Crusaders succeed. The latter failed because the business plan wasn't right and the finances didn't work. I'm not sure what "strategy" or "will from the RFL" you're hoping for in that sort of scenario.

But it doesn't do the sport any favours to obsess about the rights and wrongs of the past. It doesn't change the harsh realities facing the sport. The sport can't influence what the RFU and its clubs do or don't do and you need to get over yourself if you believe that RU went (publically) professional because it saw what RL was doing. RU went pro because it saw the commercial opportunities that it would bring. What RL needs to focus on is how it can change its own destiny, not what those big, bad evil forces were doing.

I mention players because the facts don't lie. Participation in this sport in the UK is falling, it's falling fast, and something needs to be done to address that. One of those things that can be done is to introduce the sport to new areas where there are potentially untapped talent pools - why can't North America be one of those? Let's get over this idea that our players can only come from the M62 corridor because the facts are that we're getting fewer and fewer players from those areas.

Yes, Toronto in their whopping 2.5 years of existence haven't produced much in the way of professional-ready talent, but that doesn't mean that all attempts to take the game to young people in other parts of the world should be consigned to the "can't work, won't work" pile. Toronto's priorities are clearly about getting into SL quickly, and that's there perogative.

And you know what? If this sport can offer young men from the North of England the opportunity to play and live in some of the most exciting cities in North America in their 20s (NY have commited to being predominantly US-based), then that's a huge attraction to anyone playing this game. I know I'd jump at the chance for a contract to spend a few years of my 20s in New York City. What an incredible life experience that this sport can now offer young talent.

For all the talk of "expansion strategies", the reality is that the RFL or SL isn't in a position to do that without willing stakeholders like David Argyle and Eric Perez and, given that it is their investment, its right that they get a say in how and where they run their respective clubs. If that is Toronto, Thatto Heath or Tahiti, it's their money to risk.

And the point still stands that the very issue of expansion is only on the agenda because of failures at club level - failures to grow audiences, engage communities and to reach audiences that sponsors want to reach today. It is they that have got the sport to the state it is in today and at some point, we have to start listing to someone with better ideas, rather than those who just want to talk about problems and keep doing the same things that got us here.
I wish everyone would read bramleyrhino's post two or three times just to get it through some thick skulls


Mr bramleyrhino speaks a lot of sense.


Jamie Jones-Buchanan wrote:
"I'd never forgive myself if a child of mine was born in Lancashire.
Posted by wrencat1873 on Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:15 pm
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bramleyrhino wrote:
Again, we have lots of problems, lots of excuses, but not a lot of ideas to change things for the better.

There are various reasons why certain expansion ventures have failed but lets not pretend that heartland clubs are any less vulnerable to the whims of benevolent owners. The situation at Leigh last year is evidence of that. I don't think you could accuse David Argyle of lacking the will to make it succeed at Toronto, or Leighton Samuel of lacking the will to make Celtic Crusaders succeed. The latter failed because the business plan wasn't right and the finances didn't work. I'm not sure what "strategy" or "will from the RFL" you're hoping for in that sort of scenario.

But it doesn't do the sport any favours to obsess about the rights and wrongs of the past. It doesn't change the harsh realities facing the sport. The sport can't influence what the RFU and its clubs do or don't do and you need to get over yourself if you believe that RU went (publically) professional because it saw what RL was doing. RU went pro because it saw the commercial opportunities that it would bring. What RL needs to focus on is how it can change its own destiny, not what those big, bad evil forces were doing.

I mention players because the facts don't lie. Participation in this sport in the UK is falling, it's falling fast, and something needs to be done to address that. One of those things that can be done is to introduce the sport to new areas where there are potentially untapped talent pools - why can't North America be one of those? Let's get over this idea that our players can only come from the M62 corridor because the facts are that we're getting fewer and fewer players from those areas.

Yes, Toronto in their whopping 2.5 years of existence haven't produced much in the way of professional-ready talent, but that doesn't mean that all attempts to take the game to young people in other parts of the world should be consigned to the "can't work, won't work" pile. Toronto's priorities are clearly about getting into SL quickly, and that's there perogative.

And you know what? If this sport can offer young men from the North of England the opportunity to play and live in some of the most exciting cities in North America in their 20s (NY have commited to being predominantly US-based), then that's a huge attraction to anyone playing this game. I know I'd jump at the chance for a contract to spend a few years of my 20s in New York City. What an incredible life experience that this sport can now offer young talent.

For all the talk of "expansion strategies", the reality is that the RFL or SL isn't in a position to do that without willing stakeholders like David Argyle and Eric Perez and, given that it is their investment, its right that they get a say in how and where they run their respective clubs. If that is Toronto, Thatto Heath or Tahiti, it's their money to risk.

And the point still stands that the very issue of expansion is only on the agenda because of failures at club level - failures to grow audiences, engage communities and to reach audiences that sponsors want to reach today. It is they that have got the sport to the state it is in today and at some point, we have to start listing to someone with better ideas, rather than those who just want to talk about problems and keep doing the same things that got us here.


The bottom line is that EVERY club, whether they be in Toronto or Wigan, will put their club first, second and third.
The strategy and vision, although it can be influenced by the clubs (some more than others :wink: ) HAS to come from the governing body.
As for Perez and Argyle throwing cash at RL, you are right to say they can do as they please.
Is a transatlantic league going to help the sport, I'm still a long way from being convinced. When you try to contemplate multiple sides from accross the Atlantic, competing in Super League, regardless of the depth of Argyles pockets, it doesn't look like a "fit" for our sport.
Time will tell but, I still believe that, regardless of who may be footing the bill, the N. American clubs cannot play a full and inclusive part in Super League. Yes, they can find a way to complete a fixture program but, there still is more to the game of RL than just having someone to play against.
What is your dream / expectation from the N .American experiment.
How many clubs should there be from England, France and US/Canada in SL and despite the £millions being thrown into the pot, do you honestly believe that it will benefit the game over here and if so, how ?
Posted by ALAW on Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:17 pm
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The only way that the n American clubs would benefit super league is if they bring in players from America. Initially it would have to be mainly British and aus but within say 3 seasons they should be bringing through their own players (maybe some nfl rejects).
People don't play rl as often mainly because a lot of them don't know it exists. Having ru on free to view TV encourages ru. Having rl on a pay service doesn't. If we were to have 1 or 2 matches a week on ftv TV the numbers would increase
Posted by bramleyrhino on Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:18 pm
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wrencat1873 wrote:
The strategy and vision, although it can be influenced by the clubs (some more than others :wink: ) HAS to come from the governing body.


To what extent do you honestly believe that the governing body can influence or strategise this, given that it is reliant on the willingness (or otherwise) of other various stakeholders? The Premier League could "strategise" all it wants about having a club in Leeds, but if there isn't a well-managed club in Leeds, that isn't going to happen (although fingers cross that will change fairly soon).

And that's what I mean by expansion being the means rather than the end. That's why you can't put a number on what the "ideal" number of expansion clubs is - the number really depends on what is best for the sport. As I have said before, if we had 12 clubs that were growing and ensuring that this sport remains relevant in the national conscience, expansion isn't even an issue.

Whatever the RFL or SLE decides it wants to do and achieve, it needs 12, 14, 16 or however many clubs you care for to show that same degree of willing, skill and investment. It's clear as day that isn't going to happen because different clubs and chairmen have limited their investments and ambitions to different degrees. If the current clubs can't grow the sport, then expansion is a means to try and do that.

As for Perez and Argyle throwing cash at RL, you are right to say they can do as they please.
Is a transatlantic league going to help the sport, I'm still a long way from being convinced. When you try to contemplate multiple sides from accross the Atlantic, competing in Super League, regardless of the depth of Argyles pockets, it doesn't look like a "fit" for our sport.
Time will tell but, I still believe that, regardless of who may be footing the bill, the N. American clubs cannot play a full and inclusive part in Super League. Yes, they can find a way to complete a fixture program but, there still is more to the game of RL than just having someone to play against.
What is your dream / expectation from the N .American experiment.
How many clubs should there be from England, France and US/Canada in SL and despite the £millions being thrown into the pot, do you honestly believe that it will benefit the game over here and if so, how ?


On what basis can't it be a "fit" for the sport? On what basis can't they be "a full and inclusive part" of SL? What does this mean.

At the moment we are two and a half years into this particular forray, so it's hard to make judgement calls either way. I have said all along that I believe the Transatlantic concept has risks, but I also believe that the potential rewards outweigh those risks.

Why do I believe that? Because it opens the door to new sponsorship opportunities, it opens the door to new media opportunities and it opens the door to new audiences. Will we ever realise those opportunities? That remains to be seen but I do firmly believe that without a presence in North America, those doors aren't even open. Air Transat would not be involved in RL without Toronto. Dacia, a division of Renault, would probably not be involved in RL without Catalans. If, and it is an if, these sorts of opportunities materialise into something tangible, that's investment into a sport that sorely needs it.

Expansion also gives us an opportunity to grow our player pool. The heartlands are not as fertile as they once were for playing talent, as evidenced by falling participation numbers. There is no rule that RL talent can't be found elsewhere in the world, and going Transatlantic helps us to tap-into those young athlete pools with what we have to offer (in a part of the world where we don't have the baggage of a class system that sees us playing second-fiddle to RU).

Going transatlantic also provides opportunities for our players and gives us something to offer. In a sport where many of the players are grossly under-paid and where we, until very recently, talked about "£1m games" as if £1m was a lot of money in professional sport, the opportunity to play in NY or Toronto is an amazing life experience and a big selling point to young players.

Toronto are currently reaching, engaging and selling to audiences that the heartlands RL clubs are woeful at reaching and engaging. Those aren't my sentiments, they're the sentiments of Elstone and if that's the message that he is giving to the clubs and the way he wants to take things, it needs the clubs to show that they can do that better than any expansion club that they fear will take their place.

If that isn't benefitting the game and being "a full part of SL", then fair enough, but I struggle to see what better options this sport currently has.
Last edited by bramleyrhino on Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
I wish everyone would read bramleyrhino's post two or three times just to get it through some thick skulls


Mr bramleyrhino speaks a lot of sense.


Jamie Jones-Buchanan wrote:
"I'd never forgive myself if a child of mine was born in Lancashire.
Posted by wrencat1873 on Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:48 pm
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bramleyrhino wrote:
To what extent do you honestly believe that the governing body can influence or strategise this, given that it is reliant on the willingness (or otherwise) of other various stakeholders. The Premier League could "strategise" all it wants about having a club in Leeds, but if there isn't a well-managed club in Leeds, that isn't going to happen (although fingers cross that will change fairly soon).

And that's what I mean by expansion being the means rather than the end. That's why you can't put a number on what the "ideal" number of expansion clubs is - the number really depends on what is best for the sport. As I have said before, if we had 12 clubs that were growing and ensuring that this sport remains relevant in the national conscience, expansion isn't even an issue.

Whatever the RFL or SLE decides it wants to do and achieve, it needs 12, 14, 16 or however many clubs you care for to show that same degree of willing, skill and investment. It's clear as day that isn't going to happen because different clubs and chairmen have limited their investments and ambitions to different degrees. If the current clubs can't grow the sport, then expansion is a means to try and do that.

On what basis can't it be a "fit" for the sport? On what basis can't they be "a full and inclusive part" of SL? What does this mean.

At the moment we are two and a half years into this particular forray, so it's hard to make judgement calls either way. I have said all along that I believe the Transatlantic concept has risks, but I also believe that the potential rewards outweigh those risks.

Why do I believe that? Because it opens the door to new sponsorship opportunities, it opens the door to new media opportunities and it opens the door to new audiences. Will we ever realise those opportunities? That remains to be seen but I do firmly believe that without a presence in North America, those doors aren't even open. Air Transat would not be involved in RL without Toronto. Dacia, a division of Renault, would probably not be involved in RL without Catalans. If, and it is an if, these sorts of opportunities materialise into something tangible, that's investment into a sport that sorely needs it.

Expansion also gives us an opportunity to grow our player pool. The heartlands are not as fertile as they once were for playing talent, as evidenced by falling participation numbers. There is no rule that RL talent can't be found elsewhere in the world, and going Transatlantic helps us to tap-into those young athlete pools with what we have to offer (in a part of the world where we don't have the baggage of a class system that sees us playing second-fiddle to RU).

Going transatlantic also provides opportunities for our players and gives us something to offer. In a sport where many of the players are grossly under-paid and where we, until very recently, talked about "£1m games" as if £1m was a lot of money in professional sport, the opportunity to play in NY or Toronto is an amazing life experience and a big selling point to young players.

Toronto are currently reaching, engaging and selling to audiences that the heartlands RL clubs are woeful at reaching and engaging. Those aren't my sentiments, they're the sentiments of Elstone and if that's the message that he is giving to the clubs and the way he wants to take things, it needs the clubs to show that they can do that better than any expansion club that they fear will take their place.

If that isn't benefitting the game and being "a full part of SL", then fair enough, but I struggle to see what better options this sport currently has.


Would you care to answer the question that I asked of you:

"What is your dream / expectation from the N .American experiment.
How many clubs should there be from England, France and US/Canada in SL and despite the £millions being thrown into the pot, do you honestly believe that it will benefit the game over here and if so, how ?"

You mention potential opportunities for players and this is true but, these players would be taken from an already shrinking pond, thus adding to wage demands in an already cash starved game.

Sponsorship is the big question and it will be interesting to see just which companies show interest in the sport although the one huge difference between Perez and Argyle compared to anything we have over here is that, they do seem able to "sell" the sport and I do agree that, in this respect, pretty much everyone involved on this side of the pond seems to be left in their shadow.
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