So 2011 is here. Crikey! Where did 2010 go?
The New Year brings with it a new rugby league website from those fellows that have put plenty of time and effort into Lasttackle.com and my first impressions are very positive. I was delighted to be asked to write for this website, having operated my own blog for a little over 12 months in addition to my regular writing credits with the Rugby League Express and more locally for the Leigh Journal and Bolton News. You’ll learn more about me and my thoughts on this great game over the course of 2011.
For my first LoveRugbyLeague.com blog entry I am full of New Year cheer (and perhaps naivety!). I want to look forwards and not back – there’s plenty of time for that later!
Personally I’ve already dubbed 2011 as a “Year of Opportunity” and I think it could be Rugby League’s too.
Why? I hear you ask. Here are ten reasons to be cheerful.
1. The Super League has the chance to kick off with a bang in Cardiff and ticket sales are reportedly 27% up on last year, which can only be encouraging.
2. For one set of fans in the Championship, they will have the opportunity to watch top class players regularly from next year when their club steps up with the big boys.
3. There are going to be some high quality overseas players in Super League this season that will add to the competition. (My next blog will discuss this and the pitfalls in more detail)
4. The RFL have already said they are going to invest more money in the grassroots of the game.
5. The sponsor portfolio of Rugby League continues to impress with Carnegie, Engage Mutual, Northern Rail and Co-operative continuing their long term associations with the sport.
6. The World Cup gets closer (okay I know it’s in 2013, but if the BBC can advertise the Olympics over 12 months early then I’m getting my shout in for Rugby League!)
7. New Zealand will travel here in October and November for The Four Nations as champions and we all may get the opportunity of seeing Benji Marshall live and not through a television.
8. Everyone starts with a clean slate in 2011, so for Bradford and Catalans there is perhaps renewed hope after highly disappointing seasons.
9. Rugby League continues to make strides in other countries. Italy is growing, Jamaica and the West Indies region looks ripe for development while Canada are also learning. In America they are looking for a very big year in 2011 and after seeing the ambitious coverage of the Atlantic Cup, I was impressed at some of the skills, and tenacity on show.
10. High profile people such as South Sydney joint owner (and big Hollywood player) Russell Crowe continues to speak with great affection about our game and he has the cash at his disposal to back his convictions, as the Rabbitohs marquee signing of Greg Inglis suggests.
I know this sounds like a nice fluffy view of the RL world but over the course of the season I won’t be afraid of giving an opinion. There is a lot to look forward too in the sport (and a lot of work to do as well). Rugby League does have its weaknesses, but let’s look towards its strengths, unite and be proud of this great sport. I would like to call on the governing body to unite the sport. Let everyone involved progress together and don’t kill any dreams that clubs, spectators and sponsors may have.