All the changes and gimmicks over the years have been justified by one thing – trying to make the game bigger and more popular.
The #everyminutematters campaign, for instance, was designed to be a marketing gimmick to get people entertained.
But ultimately, rugby league on the pitch is entertaining as it is (yes, there are exceptions and also variables that can affect it, such as the officiating).
Do we really need the gimmicks?
Toronto have shown up the majority of rugby league clubs this year with their marketing efforts. They have, from a standing start, managed to attract crowds greater than all but eight of the UK’s clubs.
While there are of course variables relating to that, such as perceived novelty, a bigger potential fanbase and, of course, money, there is no denying that clubs don’t help themselves when it comes to promoting their brands and games.
A quick glance at the official club websites in the Championship and League 1 tells you all you need to know.
(All sites visited and details correct as at 11pm on Monday August 7)
Batley Bulldogs – main story is a match report from a game a whole month ago (9th July v Dewsbury). Next home game is highlighted as v London on 23rd July.
Bradford Bulls – generally good, as to be expected given full-time status, though their content has had a hammering from fans on social media for much of the season due to errors, typos and otherwise.
Dewsbury Rams – last update was a story about the Rams Squadbuilder on August 1. They are on the RFL template which at least means their fixtures/results are up to date.
Featherstone Rovers – possibly the best team outside of Super League in terms of its marketing output, and would give some inside a run for their money.
Halifax – generally updated regularly, though their latest post published tonight does include reference to banned Rangi Chase starring for Widnes in their next game.
Hull KR – a Super League club in all but name.
London Broncos – well updated with relevant content, a potential realistic benchmark for the part-time teams.
Oldham – last update is on from Friday August 4, so misses the weekend game. They do produce regular and decent quality press releases, though.
Rochdale – last update is again a preview to the weekend just gone.
Sheffield – last rugby related update is a fixture post from August 1.
Swinton – last update a preview to the weekend just gone.
Toulouse – tend to feed a variety of content through, including round-ups from other leagues.
Barrow – a website updated with a report and result from the weekend at last, hallelujah!
Coventry – low volume of content, but at least kept fairly up to date, including a report from the weekend
Doncaster – a solid output for a League 1 club. Preview, Report and Reaction from the weekend’s game. Seem to have a solid routine in place on the website.
Newcastle – report online from the weekend, seems to be more willingness from League 1 clubs to do this than Championship. Toronto effect?
All Golds – kept up to date, also includes video content.
Hunslet – no updates since squad announcement for last game.
Hemel – website only seems to have match reports, but they are at least added in a timely manner. RFL template keeps their results/fixtures up to date.
Keighley – website could probably do with a refresh, but plenty of content running through; including the all important match report from a winning weekend
London Skolars – no updates since August 2.
North Wales – match report from their game on Saturday.
Oxford – no update since June 8.
South Wales – no update since July 30.
Toronto – nothing needed here. You’ve all seen their efforts, including the documentary.
Whitehaven – last update the news of Jordan Hand’s signing on August 1.
Workington – no update since June 24 and the signing of Danny Rasool.
York – match report from the weekend up on site
Websites are the club’s main vehicle to promote their clubs, and while some may be more active on social media, it must surely become a priority for clubs to look after their online presence better.
Especially when they’re trying to attract much needed commercial and broadcast revenue.