Carter: Skill levels have dropped

Wakefield chairman Michael Carter admits skill levels in Super League are poorer now than they were a decade ago and says the competition must work on its match-day experience.

Carter took over as chairman of Trinity in August 2013.

He believes rugby league as a product is still attractive, but things can be done to improve it and grow the audience amid strong competition from other sports.

“I think it would be naive of me to try and promote that we’ve got the best all-singing all-dancing game going, I think skill levels are undoubtedly a little poorer than they were 10 years ago,” Carter told Love Rugby League.

“But we are falling massively behind the NRL and other sports, rugby union is a massive threat to us right now.

“They have an abundance of money, which is driven by the international game. In the autumn season for england where there’s three consecutive Twickenham games and they’ve all got 100,000 people there and the cheapest ticket is £200 and it all flows down to their game.

“They have a fantastic TV deal, sponsors etc, their game is vibrant at the minute but let’s not be jealous. They’ve got a product, which in my opinion, is poorer than ours to watch.

“I watch internationals because i think they are addictive to watch but a club game is pretty boring.

“So I don’t think competition-wise they’re as good as us but they’ve found a niche, especially down south where it’s clearly the second spectator sport to football and a bit like the NFL, it’s a whole day experience.

“I think we should be trying to work on that in the north of England, be the alternative sport in the north of England to football.

“We’re never going to beat football there’s far too many clubs with far too many fans so let’s not even try to compete with football.

“Let’s be the next best alternative for someone that wants an alternative sport on a Sunday afternoon or Friday night, let’s be the next best thing and spectator-wise we can be that.

“There’s nothing better than two 16/17 stone guys running at each other with a ball and hearing that actual body on body contact, which you can hear in rugby league as well. No paddingn no nothing.

“These guys are really putting their bodies on the line and I think if we can get them in to start with I think we’ve got a sport that can really grab you and think – you know what I want to come back and watch that again.

“It’s really good spectacle, we’ve just got to find a way of getting them through the door to start with. I think if we can do that, we just need to retain them.”

Carter has spent time in America watching NFL games and has been impressed with the way that competition conducts itself it terms of entertainment.

He believes Super League can learn off the NFL.

“I went to an NFL game there and I was there five and a half hours, the weather helped, I was in Tampa and it was 80 odd degrees,” he explained.

“I was sat in the sunshine it was great, every time there was a break there was always something going on.

“There’s a lot of breaks in play, there’s something going on to retain your attention so we need to try and make it [Super League] an event for people and families.

“We’re trying to do that here but it’s difficult in a decrepit stadium.”

There has been much discussion in the past about the on-field quality of Super League in 2016.

Castleford coach Daryl Powell recently spoke about how Super League clubs have to try and entertain their fans.

Carter believes there is still plenty of entertainment now in the clashing of different styles of play.

“You look at Wigan – very, very structured and winners at the end of the day and no one can fault them for that,” he said.

“They came through a lot of adversity and I do like to tell everybody that the eventual grand final winners lost 62-0 to us, so we can live on that for another 10 years.

“But they won the comp playing a way and other teams have seen that and thought how can we do that.

“But I think there’s enough entertainers in the league as well. I love watching, i’ll probably get hung out to dry saying this, but I love watching Cas play, they play with a free spirit.

“Warrington are the same, I think at times we join that party as well where ‘Chezzy’ had told them to throw the ball around and enjoy themselves.

“Hull as well. We have enough entertainment within that sometimes it’s not going to come off – the ball’s greasy, it’s raining, it’s a knockonathon and we had a number of instances of that on live games as well which didn’t help us.

“But I think there’s enough teams within that that can certainly entertain. Look at Salford, they were an exciting team to watch.

“Widnes gave us a couple of pastings are were attractive to watch. There’s still enough teams to entertain.

“For me I’m a massive rugby league fan so I’ll go and watch anything. I know that’s probably not the best advert to put out there but defensive games, we won 10-2 at huddersfield and I loved it.

“I absolutely loved it. We kept our line, everyone hated it, I loved it. That’s the best thing I liked about the Wigan game, the fact it was a nil not the 62.

“We defended three sets of six on our line in the last two minutes and the joy on the faces of Danny Kirmond and Mikey Sio when the final whistle went and we had kept them out.

“There’s different sides to our game that everyone can enjoy. I like the defensive aspect to it, I don’t want to see 50-38 every week, I want to see a really good competition and I think we’ve still got that.”





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