The Mission Statement (fuck riiiiiiight off) used to say ‘Predominantly Warrington Blog’. We never did anything that wasn’t Warrington based so we dropped the ‘predominantly’. So now we think it’s about time that we wrote about something else, mainly so we can change it back.
Most of us can barely agree with the bloke stood next to us on where we think Wire are going wrong, so the state of the game should promote a real conversation.
It’ll make a change from the endless “Matty Russell: Is he wank or is he the second coming of Jesus Christ?” debate that currently rages around our section of the South Stand which will be lovely.
We’ve been musing about the future and where Rugby League should be heading.
Feel free to disagree, pick holes and call us thick cunts. It’ll be just like being at home.
Since the World Club Series there has been a lot of talk (well some talk, to be honest) about the future of the series and the wider game outside of the NRL.
It’s well known that, Wayne Bennett apart, there is very little appetite for the Would Club Challenge, never mind a series. The fact that when Super League was trying to organise this year’s tournament the NRL would not offer any assistance at all, leaving the RFL to negotiate directly with the clubs individually speaks volumes.
Sydney based Rugby League journo Steve Mascord (what a life he has – living in Sydney, getting paid to travel the world watching Rugby and writing about music. Jammy bastard) had a suggestion that piqued our attention and imagination.
What about fucking the NRL off all together?
It’s an insular closed shop. They don’t really give a shite about expanding the game to interested parties outside of the status quo.
So why don’t we target those that want to join and invite them into Super League?
Why don’t we have a direct crack at the Aussie market? Brisbane are desperate for a second team, Perth want another crack and there’s space in Central Queensland and in South Australia.
While this probably sounds like a pipe dream, so did Toronto playing in League 1.
If someone asked you five years ago what would be more likely: a team based in Western Australia running around over here or a side from Ontario, Canada, ploughing through the mud at Siddal in the Challenge Cup, what would you have said?
The world is a hell of a lot smaller than it was during the Super League War.
Direct flights from Oz to London are a reality. In fact, the flight times from Perth to London are comparable to what rugby union’s pan-Hemisphere Super Rugby teams do on a regular basis now.
The Toronto template of 4 week slots over here, then month long slots over there make it feasible.
We don’t know if there’s an appetite until we test the water, but surely it’s got to be worth a look.
It would definitely give the Wire Super Fans a new bench mark to beat their counterparts over the head with to show that their opinion is more valid than anyone eles – 80-0 at Saints – check – The 50-odd at Catalan in play-offs – check and now Ayres Rock away? Got a better ring to it than Belle Vue hasn’t it?
If we’re planning expansion (we fucking hate the word expansion) overseas then we may as well dream about becoming a national game while we’re at it.
“The M62 Sport” is an insult that keeps being used to beat us over the head with.
It’s not strictly true on two levels: the first one is that Rugby League is now played at amateur level in every county in Engalnd and there are comps in every country in the British Isles. We need to exploit that more.
Secondly, there are two huge, throbbing conurbations missing from the M62 Sport tag and we’re slap bang in the middle of them; Liverpool and Manchester.
Jon Wilkin was on about this on the Wireless (ask your grandad) the other day and, aside from making a fucking great flat white (ask your grandson), he talks a lot sense.
We’ve got two big, sports mad cities on our doorstep and we should be making inroads.
Leeds aside, we’re behind the 8 ball as far as rugby is concerned, apart from these two.
There’s nowt in Liverpool and apart from Sale (and they’re not exactly pulling in the punters) Manchester is barren at the moment too.
Concerted and concentrated efforts should be put into Liverpool and all of the help necessary should be given to ensure that Manchester Rangers are a success.
We’ve moved on a long way from the original premise of Super League 20-odd years ago.
We’ve learned that we cannot just plonk teams in at Super League level with no history in the game and hope that it works.
But we can sow the seeds and help them grow into something worthwhile.
A proper long term plan. Instead of talking about how the game will look in two or three years, we should be looking at the game in 15 – 20 years and what we want to be; are we content with being a large minority sport or do we want to be a small major sport? There’s a huge difference.
The 8’s system is too contrived: we play too many games and those games are not competitive enough.
A 12 team top division does not provide the regular test that our players need to be challenge the Aussies an, like it or not, England or GB vs Australia always catches the casual observer’s attention a lot more than St Helens vs Castleford ever will.
Two sides from small Northern towns on a Thursday night doesn’t tickle too many pickles outside of the heartlands.
We need to be tickling pickles all over the place.
As we’ve said, we need to grow the game and we need to do it in the right way.
So bear with us. The plan that we’ve come up with when we should really have been working is this:
5 Divisions of 10 teams.
The top 20 would be Super League 1 and Super League 2. These would be full time, professional teams with a 5 year Licencing period (licencing works, The RFL just fucked it up). The bottom team in Super League would go down and the winners of the play-offs in division below would go up.
The next 30 will be semi pro along the lines of The Championship now.
We have 40 teams in the top three tiers of the game at the moment so another 10 isn’t so much of a push if we’re clever.
We could synchronise the calendar to make it easier for outsiders to understand.
18 league games – plus play-offs – plus challenge cup fixtures – maybe, maybe a county cup – will reduce the number of games that our top players play.
Which means that the blokes playing for England at the end of the season aren’t knackered and we might just have a chance on winning a pot.
It would keep the dinosaurs that think that we need promotion and relegation happy and it would keep those of us that want the game to survive and prosper happy by allowing it to spread.
Oh and, by the way, Matty Russell is fucking shite.