BLOG: Promoting Community Rugby League

Is Community Rugby League the sport’s best kept secret?

It is the bedrock of the sport, the breeding ground of the Super League stars of tomorrow.

It has some fantastic leagues in its own right, but does Amateur Rugby League need an image overhaul, or at least a switch?

As someone that’s involved at Leigh East and Lancashire BARLA, I think so.

Take the leagues that come under the auspices of the Rugby Football League. While there are fairly regular stories that appear on the websites, the revamp of the community section took place during the season and you can’t access as much detail as was previously available on the separate National Conference League site. As a self confessed statto it’s a shame I can’t get to see team sheets and scoring details from each game online.

The BARLA website is even worse, although there is some current information about Yorkshire trials and Warrington & District A.R.L. Stuart Middleton Foundation Cup & Alliance Cup Finals. (As of 6.30pm on 8th August).

There are exceptions to this, such as the great work being done by Grassroots Media who have covered most levels of the community game over the course of the season and there was a brilliant video a few months ago, produced for Chorley Panthers.

Further to the blog from James Gordon in which he highlighted some of the updates (or lack of them) on professional and semi professional club websites, I would level this at amateur clubs too.

For those that aren’t aware, I also produce and present a regular Warrington Amateur RL Show on Radio General – Warrington Hospital Radio that goes out live between 2-3pm on a Wednesday and is then edited to podcast format that I usually tweet like mad about over @DParkyRL.

Over the last few months I have built a solid base with the likes of Woolston Rovers, Rylands Sharks, Crosfields, Burtonwood Bridge and Latchford Albion. Generally they are doing a similar job to me regarding output and I have spoken regularly to their coaching staff who have all been great in making themselves available for interview.

Over at Leigh East I set myself an ambitious target at the start of the season to have game highlights, match report and audio for people to listen to/watch linked from the website by the Monday following a game on a Saturday.

On a match day my main task from a information point of view, is to have team sheets and scorers over to the league and the trade press within two hours of a game finishing and to forge good relationships with the two local newspapers from the town.

Things started well enough but changes behind the scenes have seen a slight switch away from that original planned model.

Video highlights bit the dust and audio is dependent on availability of coaches and of course, me. One thing that has remained regular are the match reports and some great information and stories that came my way from the other teams and junior section of the club.

I know that I still have some way to go, but will continue to strive while also making sure that the footage I capture is of greatest use to the coaching staff.

There was some reaction to James’ article, particularly from Sean Hayes at Rochdale Hornets (forgive me for picking you out here Sean!). He does a good job, particularly on the video side of things. I know that he works hard. He highlighted limitations of voluntary media teams and it is largely the same at amateur level too. Sure I get frustrated when I can’t read a game report but I also understand that in most cases the person responsible probably has twenty other jobs to do and ultimately as long as local press is catered for there will always be some fall off.

Maybe I am approaching this from the wrong angle all together, maybe video and audio is totally the way to go with more use of Facebook and Social Media. Latchford have posted films from games as an example while Burtonwood Bridge coach Lee Cunningham took us right inside a training session with an on-field view of what players were doing. I thought both of these were thinking a little out of the box and I applaud their change in focus.

I’ve experimented a little myself over the last few weeks.

I filmed my old school mate Neil Watson as he talked through preparing for his role as a matchday announcer and have attempted mini broadcasts appealing for support and giving team news. I’d love to see more of this sort of output as well as perhaps the more conventional game reports, etc.

If only there was a place that could include all this information and link to it.

What am I talking about? There is. Here at LRL of course!

Feel free to comment on this below or directly to me via twitter: @DParkyRL.

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