Column: It would be great to see more clubs expand their brand

It would be brilliant to see other clubs follow in the footsteps of Wigan Warriors and Hull FC in expanding not only their club brand, but the Super League competition as well.

We witnessed a fantastic spectacle this morning, with Wigan beating Hull FC 24-10 in front of 12,416 spectators at the WIN Stadium in Wollongong, New South Wales.

It was the first ever Super League game to be played outside of Europe and it proved popular between the press and Rugby League fans down under.

This is what we want, isn’t it? We want more people to watch Super League, we want the Super League to gain more media coverage and we want to bring big sponsors into the sport in the UK.

Wigan and Hull have done this. They have received some stick for venturing over to Australia to play each other in a Super League game but I don’t get why. It’s not as though no-one could watch it – it was broadcast LIVE on Sky Sports and some NRL fans, who have probably looked down on Super League previously, watched the game in Illawarra and may even have a different outlook on our competition now.

I understand where some fans were coming from when they were disappointed that there would be one less game at their home ground, but surely they can see the good in this New South Wales tour now!

Say what you like about Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, but his admiration not only for the club, but for Rugby League and expansion, is admirable.

He isn’t just a businessman who just wants profit from being the owner of a professional sports club. He wants the game to grow all over the world and he is spearheading this movement as much as he can with the Warriors, which again, can only be a good thing.

There were over 12,000 people in attendance. This is brilliant and should be considered a success. The organisers have done a grand job – Wigan and Hull brought around a total of 5,000 fans from the UK so that means there were over 7,000 locals watching on.

Put it this way, England’s World Cup clash with Lebanon, which featured NRL stars such as Sam Burgess, Mitchell Moses, James Graham, Robbie Farah and Gareth Widdop, only had a crowd of 10,237, so Wigan and Hull have done a brilliant job to achieve over 12,000. A WIN-WIN for both clubs and Super League (see what I did there?).

Let’s look forward to next week now at the ANZ Stadium, where Wigan till take on the Burgess’ of South Sydney Rabbitohs and Hull face Widdop and Graham’s St George Illawarra Dragons in a double-header on Saturday.

6 Comments

  1. if I was a season ticket holder at either Hull or Wigan without the means or the holidays from work to be able to go to Australia to watch a game I may be less than pleased. This may increase the world wide brand but alienate the local support.

  2. I understand the premier league trying to do this in the USA because its as popular as can be in this country. Rugby league isn’t well supported in England or even outside of the m62 corridor so, why don’t we focus on promoting the game in our own country and boosting attendances here before we celebrate 7000 aussies going to one game?

  3. I’ve watched the great game of Rugby League for 50 years. The first game I went to was in 1967 at Belmore Oval. I’m a member of the Canterbury Bulldogs football club and come from Western Sydney. My wife and I travelled just under 40 kilometres to watch Wigan and Hull play. It was astonishing to see the cultural differences! Hull fans walking down Crown St in Wollongong singing and showing their support. Locals with mobile phone out videoing the spectacle, definitely not the done thing here. I will say, though, that Canterbury supporters do also play drums. It was an outstanding night. Very well put together by Wigan. All the fans were well behaved and it was a marvellous game to watch, it was fast, the odd error that added to the spice of the game, beautiful switches of play and some wonderful tries and only 1 referee – oh joy. Hope to see more Super League games here in NSW. It was a wonderful game – be proud of it. I’m quite jealous of the RFL being so visionary and expansionary, whilst the NRL via the ARLC are simply stuck on a treadmill and going nowhere. I also (now know) what “mushy peas” are!!!!!

  4. Expand “their brand”!
    Presumably one or more of the pundits has done some form of marketing course and has acquired a few buzz words, “brand” being one of them. Which has now crept into discussions about the game, from the phrase “Super League has a great brand within the sporting environment” to “team X’s style of play is an exciting brand”.
    In the context of “expanding their brand” I assume that what is meant is making the Wigan Warriors, for example, known outside the north of England. (I’m aware that Wigan have played home games in London and they are to be congratulated for doing that.)

    Warning – marketing speak alert!
    Unless the game has reached maximum fan penetration in the towns where it’s played wouldn’t it be better to grab the low hanging fruit of folks that actually know what Rugby League is all about by promoting the local team as a “brand” rather than attempting to enter new, congested, markets?

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