Mailbox: Rugby league in the modern era and social media influencers

Mailbox gives you the chance to get your voice heard and start the debate with the rugby league audience. Want to be featured? Email the editor:

Dear James,

In the last few years I have noticed a bit of a trend within Rugby League. Clubs struggling with
finances and a steady decline in attendances and obviously the two issues go hand in hand.

Now I’m no financial or marketing expert, I’m just a regular fan of the sport, but even I and many
others like me can see that there are clearly issues with clubs managing the finances and
marketing their clubs, both issues the RFL seemingly choose to ignore or are unwilling or
unable to help, either way they need to do better.

But part of me believes the RFL doesn’t understand the modern RL supporter let alone how to get new fans interested in the sport (just look at the shocking press conference photos with Tony Adams).

Now some clubs like Warrington, Wigan and Leeds for example bring in decent crowds they
advertise the games well and bring in the revenue required to in turn bring in better players and
perform better.

Now my point is why doesn’t the RFL look to these clubs for guidance, sure opposing clubs are not there to support other clubs but if more teams start to disappear who will they play and what will become of the game we love?

I personally believe that all clubs especially Super League clubs should do more to help promote
our game and the RFL and Super League should most certainly back this up with better
marketing themselves.

Warrington this year have led the way and in turn other clubs such as Saints have upped their game and look at the results: increased attendances, increased exposure online and in mainstream media which in turn showcases rugby league to a much wider audience.

Recently I listened to a Forty-20 podcast and a small comment was made that I thought summed up one of the biggest issues within our sport, the comment was relating to Super League players being advertised as superstars and made to “social media influencers” this was met with the comment “which is a load of rubbish”.

Now to me it’s not rubbish that’s just how things work nowadays and rugby league needs to join in or it’s only going to get worse. Just look at Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba on Instagram, yes they get a lot of hate and it’s not always met with good publicity but people are talking about them and you can guarantee most non football fans know their names, where as if I travel 10 minutes down the road to Liverpool barely anyone could name even one rugby league player.

So for me the best way to improve our game is to improve our image, it’s a tough, hard hitting, gladiatorial sport that in my eyes should be broadcast to a wider audience as just that with big personalities and even bigger hits.

Let people watch football and call it the beautiful game, get them watching rugby league and
they’ll call it the greatest.

Paul Tress

Editor’s comment: I think one of the issues with rugby league is that over the years the RFL have basically taken on the burden of everything – and in some ways, it’s their own fault. They are the governing body. They should govern. They can’t do everything. I’ve experience of things that they’ve tried to get involved with when they could quite easily have left it alone. There’s a sense of paranoia about it all. Clearly the sport needs to do more, but I do think the hysteria over the lack of marketing is perhaps a little unjust. A top level plan is what’s needed, that’s all.

Mailbox gives you the chance to get your voice heard and start the debate with the rugby league audience. Want to be featured? Email the editor:

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