Thursday, 14 July 2011

Wales Rugby League Comes of Age

The perennial argument over the lack a rugby league Great Britain team is usually answered by potential, what wills and maybes. The Rugby Football League's perspective is the need to see non-English rugby league develop in both playing terms and governance of the game. Already the Rugby League European Federation is showing significant signs of developing into a genuine governing body, putting the Rugby League International Federation, supposedly the global governing body, to shame.

Now the Welsh Rugby League, secure in it's new Caerphilly base, has made a significant step forward and seriously put a dent in the Great Britain cause, at least for home games. Qualifying for the Four Nations has taken care of the playing side but the impact in other matters may more than match that achievement.

The WRL reports the securing of "a number of lucrative long term sponsorships over the next three years which has substantially increased the amount of revenue coming into the governing body. These sponsors will be announced over the coming months in the run up to the Four Nations." When factored in with the joint hosting of the Rugby League World Cup 2013 it is clear the development and growth of rugby league in non-heartland areas is entering somewhat of a golden age.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Rugby League Four Nations 2011 Venues Set at Last

After much toing and indeed froing the Rugby Football League have managed to secure agreement to stage the entire second round of the Four Nations 2011 at Wembley. They've even managed to set the dates and venues of the other rounds at less salubrious surroundings.

The RFL have taken a calculated risk in hiring the 90,000 capacity stadium in London, traditional venue of the Challenge Cup Final, but have made a seemingly good start. Until July 22nd tickets behind the sticks are available for a tenner to all and sundry. Initial reaction from fans suggests this is succeeding in attracting casual fans and friends of fans.

So despite a seeming blasé approach to promoting the international calendar for this year the RFL seemed to have pulled this one out of the bag with a brave decision backed up by a more cautious to the other fixtures. With the Rugby League World Cup due to be staged in England and Wales in 2013 this tournament is a crucial sign of how venues will be set. With bids from places as far south as Bristol the turn out this year at Wembley will be crucial.

For myself: ten pound ticket happily purchased on the first available opportunity and going by the online queue I clearly wasn't the only one. It's all up to the fans now.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Championship License D-Day

Widnes, Barrow and Halifax will learn next Thursday whether they will gain the guaranteed spot in Superleague for a Championship club. The two not choosen will still be eligible to apply for one of the 13 spots alongside the existing Superleague sides in 2012.

Widnes Vikings are the clear favourites having responded well and thoughtfully to missing out last time. They have put in place all the non-playing structures required by the Rugby Football League and have a modern, decent sized stadium.

Halifax are hampered by a perceived lack of support and Barrow do not have the facilities or finance needed to compete. None the less the RL have developed a reputation for not be swayed by popular opinion and may yet spring a surprise.

Hopefully this strengthening of the sport in facilities and financial prudence will allow the re-introduction of promotion and relegation within the context of the proposed new league pyramid. Although not really the dominant culture of rugby league it is popular and creates a whole new host of drama and progression in the sport across the UK and even France.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

The Warm Bath of History

I'm definitely enjoying the history side of rugby league. Not so many emotional stresses, just a sense of lost opportunities. I know the second world war had more important consequences but still if only... A Short History of Rugby League Between the Wars