Mediawatch: The invisible Paul Vaughan, the search for the 18th man & owner exclusives

James Gordon
Paul Vaughan in mediawatch

Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Is Paul Vaughan merely a figment of Warrington fans’ imaginations? Or is he the real deal?

There’s been plenty of talk in recent years of rugby league changing to be less about men in suits, and more about the players.

Well, it would certainly help if the official Super League could recognise arguably its stand-out forward in the opening four rounds.

Former Australia international (no less) Paul Vaughan remains missing from the Warrington team list on the official competition website, and his stats are missing from the various lists too.

It means he isn’t sitting pride of place at the top of the metre maker charts, previously occupied by (checks notes) the newly-retired Jake Mamo.

Fans have continued to raise other issues with the official site, including the use of years old photos and incorrect names. The photos situation is baffling, given the excellent SWPix provides the most professional and comprehensive coverage a sport’s league could expect.

Dan1876 tweeted: “How does an organisation manage to get the basics wrong so often?”

Lordcabbagemk2 added: “It’s crazy how the NRL update it during live matches and Super League has half the stats missing days after the match.”

Leads us nicely in to this tweet.

Every major sports league does this far quicker than rugby league. A lot of minor ones do too.

Basic brilliance… or not

St Helens have built their modern-day dynasty on basic brilliance. And there’s a lot to be said about doing the basics extremely well and consistently.

Unfortunately, that mantra seems to be lost in other areas. You won’t have to go far to find a relatively simple and irrelevant error, but that’s not the point. A few errors sneak in to Sky Sports’ coverage from time to time, including using the wrong logo of the NRL’s newest team.

These are basics that should be done properly. I speak as someone who started his career working on Carling’s sponsorship of Celtic and Rangers and almost being sent to the stocks if a banner had one blue pixel more than green!

The trouble with challenging coverage that is already out there is that we are made to feel that we should be grateful for any coverage.

Case in point is this piece from BBC North West legend Gordon Burns, bemoaning the lack of mention of St Helens’ incredible achievement in Australia.

The big secret

There seems to be a bizarre secrecy being created around attendances, that really ought to be prevented by a mandated instruction from the RFL to publish through whatever channel they see appropriate.

In the last edition of Mediawatch, we reported on York’s approach. You may have seen in our weekly attendance pieces that Hull KR have decided to only release attendances in “blocks”.

That’s attracted the irk of rugby league statisticians and historians at Rugby League Record Keepers’ Club and Rugby League Project.

The Rugby League Record Keepers’ Club are now going to estimate Hull KR attendances until the actual figure is confirmed. They shouldn’t have to, but this is the sort of nonsense we now have to put up with.

Early season drama in the capital as the London Broncos media ‘team’ disappeared at short notice. The third-party comms agency they were using sent a short email on the Wednesday leading up to a game, stating they would no longer be working with the club (offering no reason).

Their work has generally been good, sending regular articles, but it clearly left a hole for the Broncos.

It was presumably a reason why there was absolutely no social media activity from them on the day of a game.

Everyone wants the game to grow, but the basics must lay the foundations.

Fortunately, London’s opponents Sheffield provided a decent match commentary via Twitter, resulting in this praise: “Sheffield Eagles was incredible it was like you were there, almost play by play minute by minute.”

Speaking of secrets, Neil and the Rugby League Record Keepers’ Club team have had their work cut out getting details of the 18th man this season.

A new addition for 2023, it now means as well as the 17-man squads, there is an extra 18th man in case of three concussions.

Unfortunately, some clubs haven’t yet adapted to displaying the 18th man on their teamsheets or match day graphics, meaning the RLRKC team are having to chase up this data on a regular basis.

They have started now to get it flagged up with clubs, but surely there again should be a minimum standard to follow to mean things like this don’t become an issue.

Owner exclusive

A pet hate of many a journalist, the “club exclusive”. Keighley had an “exclusive” with their club owners following the IMG fuss last week.

Keighley tried to defend their stance by tweeting: “This isn’t a club interview. It is an interview conducted by Mark Stainforth of PA Media. This is referenced at the bottom of the piece.”

That may be true, but they still used the word exclusive. It’s unnecessary. Of course a club will have exclusive access to its own employees and directors.

Should point out at this juncture that Keighley certainly aren’t the first, and unfortunately won’t be the last, to follow this ‘trend’.

Our sympathy with the excellent RLPix, who were forced to bemoan the presence of Halifax ‘staff’ in their recent defeat at Widnes.

Photographers often perch behind the try line to get the best angle of tries, to bring them to the masses.

Unfortunately, it appears trainers were getting in the way.

The good news for Widnes was that there were plenty of tries for the snapper to capture, and it was on TV too. That’s lucky.


Nice piece in Forty-20 magazine from our friend Tony Hannan, who champions the cause of Keighley as a some might say unlikely source of untapped potential.

Must admit, I did enjoy my jaunt to the Championship launch mainly for being able to get there with minimal contact with the M62. Must take umbridge to the line “Every club has one player at the launch…” though – sadly, London and Toulouse weren’t there / couldn’t be bothered / didn’t get asked (delete where appropriate).

No one was as annoyed as me when our new site went live last week, and Wales and England were appearing in the Super League table! Fortunately, the issues were resolved by our technical team within 48 hours, but it still shouldn’t happen, and for that I apologise. I’m a big fan of people pointing out errors and issues, and I’m sure you agree it becomes less of an issue if they are resolved quickly.

Finally, Leigh coach Adrian Lam failed to show for his post-match press conference after their opening round defeat to Salford. The Leopards have at least made two media-related appointments of late to help them build on the momentum their pitch showings are creating for them.

MORE: Mediawatch: Westerman saga, missing attendances and TV nasty

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