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Can a new rugby league super power be created?

Discussion in 'International' started by TheRam, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. TheRam

    TheRam First Grade

    Feb 3, 2007
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    Can a new rugby league super power be created?

    EXPERTS in sports marketing often contend that from the moment the printing press became capable of thousands of impressions an hour, no dominant sporting code in any part of the world has been overthrown.
    The theory is that mass media enshrined whatever was popular at the time and was the single most significant factor in ensuring soccer ruled England, American Football and baseball hoarded America and Australian rules and rugby league captivated their respective markets in Australia.
    Rowing used to be a massive sport in Sydney. Had technological advances occurred a few years earlier, Paul Gallen could be wearing tights to work and rugby league would be up the creek without a paddle.
    So in light of the debate this week surrounding the worth of the World Cup, it's timely to extrapolate this theory to address the question: can we really create a new international superpower in a professional sport?
    If the preferences of the masses across the world are, indeed, set in stone, then is it realistic to expect the United States to suddenly become strong in rugby league, or for Australia to be a top soccer nation, or for Argentina to make the step to regularly beat the All Blacks?
    How do we fight this trend and create a fourth 'big' rugby league country?
    It's apparent that if you were EVER a superpower at a given sport, you can be again. The Home Nations, for instance, had a poor period in many sports but are enjoying success once more.
    Similarly, in rugby league, France have fallen on hard times but history suggests all is not lost for them.
    Discord will stop here and make one point: sport, like any business, must have an aim. Otherwise it has no administrative focus. And any sport's aim should be to maximise the number of participants and spectators.
    So even if we conclude that we cannot create a new great rugby league playing nation, we should still play internationals because it is OK to be a minor sport. The vast majority of sports are minority concerns EVERYWHERE they are played.
    It doesn't embarrass them and it shouldn't bother us if we are tiny in MOST places we conduct matches. Why do we have a God-given right to be dominant and internationally competitive everywhere? That's nothing but arrogance.
    But I digress.
    In answering the question posed above, let's take into account the media revolution currently taking place to match that of the printing press over a century ago: the digital revolution.
    The digital revolution is the reason rugby league - and everything - is spreading. It's why there are fans of Underbelly in Hungary and Latin American soap operas in New Zealand.
    Rugby league in Greece, for instance, is using very specifically targeted Facebook advertising to get boys and young men to come to training. They pitch the advertising to men who like wrestling and extreme sports; they promise them a bit of biff.
    Those in Australia saying the World Cup is a waste of time come from an age of populist culture where there was more or less one set of interests and pursuits in given geographical areas and this was perpetuated and promoted by the traditional media - which is now dying - driven by a profit motive.
    That is old thinking. You might as well carry around a pager and send faxes.
    We increasingly live in a niche era where all the world's sports, movies, music and theatre is available to us and where we live (and what sports are popular there) are becoming irrelevant.
    Rugby league is already capitalising on this. I have heard several stories about people setting up a Facebook page called, say, 'Bhutan Rugby League' and doing absolutely nothing else - before beinc contacted by someone in that country and a competition subsequently popping up. This is happening in Asia and Africa in particular and could not have occurred in any previous era.
    Rugby league can further capitalise on this revolution by using social media to target regions where the traditional media-reinforced local sports are not particularly strong. Lebanon is a great example - basketball is reasonably big there but there is a gap to be filled.
    The answer to the question "can a new rugby league super power be created" is, I believe, "yes".
    But we have to hit other sports in their weak points: in the Pacific, where rugby union takes talent but stages few games, in the Caribbean where most of the foreign investment is in tourism, in nations that are relatively new to capitalism and democracy and have no pro sports superstructure.
    Rugby league rode the previous media revolution by accident but there's no reason it can't deliberately embrace this one.
    These are the sort of things the AFL look at, planning strategically over generations. Rugby league can be a massive beneficiary of the digital age if it thinks in similar terms.
    The next rugby league super power will not be an industrialised European or North American nation. It will be from the Middle East, Africa, Asia or the Pacific where other sports can't be bothered to look.
    Actually, it will be Fiji.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/...-be-created-20131120-2xtxo.html#ixzz2lEG8wm90

    What a great article and I agree with him 100%. We should be working overtime on these easier to indoctrinate nations. I would also add Russia to the list.

  2. juro

    juro Bench

    Feb 2, 2010
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    What has this got to do with the NRL?
  3. cleary89

    cleary89 Coach

    Apr 12, 2010
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    top article
  4. VictoryFC

    VictoryFC Bench

    Jun 14, 2008
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    The suggestion that Africa, Middle east, Asia don't already have favourite sports says everything you need to know about this article.
  5. Kurt Angle

    Kurt Angle First Grade

    Sep 11, 2003
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    Entry to the commonwealth games will be the big kicker.

    Most RL nations are in the commonwealth, and other that are Ru onyl can easily adjust to RL 9's, places like Sri Lanka, etc.

    This can potentially open up a vast array of pro players, particularly at the QLD cup, championship 1 level
  6. DaneCampbell

    DaneCampbell Juniors

    Nov 27, 2010
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    In short - my answer is Yes. I believe there can be one (if not 3 or 4) nations that become "superpowers" in the game.

    The more difficult question is "HOW do we create a new rugby league superpower"?

    As we would all understand, finances dictate a lot of what happens (or doesn't happen)internationally. There are some great minds in developing nations and their spirit is unquestionable. What they don't have though is money or expert guidance (which costs money)! Even in a nation like France where the game has been played for such a long time, there are continual spikes and falls in cashflow. It is one thing to fund an elite team, yet it is another to fund the "whole concept", which is kids playing the game; education for coaches and match officials; travel to games; facilities at which to play at' media platforms in which to generate income etc. The list goes on and on.

    My personal belief is that the RLIF need to "target" 3-4 nations that they want to see develop as global powers in the game. Strategically, my viewpoint is that it would be ideal to see money, time, resources and skilled personnel invested into Asia, Europe, Americas and Africa.

    As much as people like to ridicule the NRL for the non-development of nearby nations, the fact is that the NRL is a huge power now and it is progressively advancing the game in the Pacific through developing players for the likes of Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands and to a lesser extent PNG, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. This will only continue to get stronger as more and more NRL teams look beyond their traditional boundaries to scout players, Fiji being the main beneficiary at present.

    It would be nice to think the same in the UK and Ireland, where Super League clubs recruit and rise the standard of players from Wales, Scotland and Ireland. That doesn't necessarily seem to be the case (and I can only comment from afar). But in an ideal world that would be how those nations could become stronger, through their players being exposed to a higher level of play on a consistent basis.

    Therefore, bringing me back to a strategic approach - I personally would be looking to "invest" in 4 main regions/nations:

    AMERICAS: USA (which would see spin offs into Canada and Jamaica)

    ASIA: China (with spin offs throughout South East Asia)

    EUROPE: France (with spin offs into Italy, Serbia, Greece, Malta, Germany, Russia, Morocco)

    AFRICA: South Africa (with spin offs right throughout the African continent)

    My suggestion would be to "invest" in these nations for a minimum of 8 years (2 world cup cycles). I think 8 years is a time frame that would allow structures to be thoroughly put in place and amended to suit the different environments / situations. I think the legacy and fruits of that "investment" would start to show during years 10-12.

    If we think back to 2000 World Cup in the UK. Fiji had possibly 2 or 3 players with NRL or Super League experience (what I will now classify as professionals moving forward) and a very small (possibly 6 team) domestic competition. By 2008 World Cup the Fiji Bati team now had probably 6-7 professional players (without looking back at the exact number in the squad) and the local competition had increased significantly and the game was now being played in schools. 5 years on and we now see Fiji fielding a squad of 24 players, of whom approx. 18-20 of them are professionals (currently or formerly with an NRL/Super League side) and they have a thriving domestic competition, multiple high schools and now a very significant corporate/commercial presence.

    So the evolution of the FNRL has taken 13 years to get where it is now and we would all agree that if they had of had financial backing previous who knows what they could achieve this weekend (and possibly still can do). That is why I would seek an 8 year minimum "investment" into these targeted nations and have the RLIF appoint quality people in the fields of elite game development, grassroots development, finances, operations, marketing, media, commercial (sponsorship) etc. appointed in these nations and I can only imagine that we would see not only 1 nation, but possibly 4 "superpowers" created and that is not discounting the fact that by investing in these 4 above mentioned nations, would also see a positive affect on close by nations, it would not be unimaginable to see a nation like Jamaica be a "beneficiary" of such an investment into the USA through increased opportunities for domestic players in a higher level competition/environment.

    My philosophy would also be to see the first 4 years of such a cycle be dedicated solely towards the nations mentioned, but after 4 years (and the beginning of the next World Cup cycle) I would also have pre planned the next 4 "targeted nations" namely being North America - Jamaica / Canada; Asia - Japan; East Europe - Russia; West Europe - Germany; Sub Continent - India; South America - Brazil or Argentina.

    Given the athletic talented available in all nations mentioned, I think we could all agree that YES - there can be another super power in rugby league, yet the question would still remain HOW?
  7. adamkungl

    adamkungl Immortal

    Jun 3, 2005
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    ^ Great post. Here's hoping the WC profits are put to good use.
  8. Bronco Rob

    Bronco Rob Juniors

    Feb 24, 2012
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    Great post Dane, I have always maintained you should be on the RLIF's payroll as a consultant for start-up nations. The work you have done in Jamaica and Vanuatu has been exceptional.

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