What makes a good rugby league promo video?
For me, it’s a no brainer. Showcase the big hits, spectacular tries and all the things that make rugby league evangelists believe it’s the greatest game of all.
We often say that it is not the product on the pitch that is the issue – if that’s the case, then it needs to be shown off when promoting the sport.
Some of these promo videos tick that box, others don’t. We’ve had familiar faces from other sports try to add prestige and interest, as you’ll see below.
But surely there’s no substitute for action?
Why would you watch anything else?
Rewind 12 months, and we were heading in to 2022 and a first “normal” season for a couple of years following the COVID pandemic.
That meant a decent promo video was put together, which featured some clips from pre-season training in the winter, new signings in lights, crowd scenes and some action.
There were some other random distractions like Mikolaj Oledzki playing chess with himself and Will Pryce doing a Sudoku puzzle, but it was otherwise solid.
And as Barrie McDermott said in the voice over clip cut from a commentary of his: “why would you want to watch any other sport?”
Ahead of the 2019 season, Super League had split from the RFL and we were promised “new beginnings”. That old chestnut.
Unfortunately, the new beginnings promo video was perhaps a sign of things to come.
There was no action in the video at all. And just over a year later, COVID struck and there actually was no action.
Don’t mind this the theory behind this one with St Helens fan and comedian Johnny Vegas.
Just feel like if they had him in between some bits of action, it’d have been miles better.
Vegas ends it with: “This is Super League. A different game. A proper game. With proper fans. It tests you. It challenges you. It excites you. It pushes you. It’s hair on the back of the neck stuff. It’s spine-chilling. Goosebumps. It’s an explosion of testosterone and nerves. At the end of them 80 minutes, you’ll be a quivering wreck. Soaked to the skin in your own perspiration. That’s how I see it anyway. Super League. It’s in a different league.”
All talk, no action. Sadly apt for rugby league over the past decade.
This is our time
Johnny Vegas featured again in 2016, though not as prominently, in a moody video to promote the season.
It was voiced over by coaches, players and fans, with some brief clips of grounds and action.
The every minute matters tag line that the RFL became obsessed with in the middle of the last decade even got dropped in.
There’s nothing particularly bad about it, it’s just not really promoting what we’re here to watch.
Extraordinary rugby league
Back in 2013, we have the “Rugby League of the Extraordinary” as part of the new marketing angle the RFL were following at the time.
This saw players throwing the ball in a tattoo parlour, players dodging fireballs and Eorl Crabtree pushing a skip along a warehouse floor.
Oh and James Roby throwing a ball through a wall before doing some pull ups with a chain as a belt.
Unfortunately, there was no actual rugby action. Surely the main seller.
Fortunately, the 2013 campaign partly was saved by the Sky Sports promo which featured Sam Tomkins and Bradley Wiggins.
Wiggins was at the peak of his powers back then, off the back of the 2012 London Olympics, and his interest in the sport was quite a coup.
He finished the video by saying: “Deep down, I would love to be a rugby league player.”
That being said, again the promo showed no actual rugby league. Just Wiggins on a bike and Tomkins running. Hmmm.
Olympians and Formula One Drivers
Ahead of the 2014 season, Formula One driver Mark Webber was the face of the Sky Sports advert.
The Australian talked about his sporting heroes growing up being from rugby league, and hailing the sports as leagues apart from the rest.
Webber said: “As a young boy growing up, my first sporting memories and heroes was rugby league. You know you’re always going to see a great contest, there’s going to be a lot of physical energy on each other, they’re going to be hitting each other. In some other team sports, you can soften off a little bit, in league there’s nowhere to hide.
“The preparation they have to go through, the preparation to get tough, to get bigger, to get used to all those hits in that sport. There is no other sport. It is leagues apart.”
The 2018 season was promoted by the Brownlee Brothers, who were joined by Super League players Mike McMeeken, Ben Currie, George Williams and Kallum Watkins to be put through their paces.
This focused on the herculean efforts of the players and their levels of fitness.
But having the players going for a run in the snow, which is of course almost a staple of the winter pre-season programme, isn’t really the best way to showcase the Super League competition that runs through the summer!
That said, this was an enjoyable one – even if I would question whether Joe Public outside of Yorkshire would recognise the Brownlee brothers walking down the street!
What will 2023 bring?
This time of year often has fans bemoaning the lack of presence for rugby league in Sky Sports’ general promos of the year ahead.
From an outside perspective, it almost seems like rugby league and Sky Sports are stuck in a cat and mouse situation almost very year.
Rugby league desperately needs Sky Sports to put it as close to front and centre of its promotional activity as possible.
But of course Sky Sports want to ensure it can get the best deal to broadcast the sport moving forward.
The presence of Channel 4 adds further intrigue, although it soon becomes a false economy given the money pumped in by Sky is what props Super League and the rest up.
Substituting that for more eye balls on Channel 4 won’t pay the bills, certainly not in the short-term.
It will be interesting to see what the 2023 promos look like.
Which is your favourite Super League promo video? Let us know in the comments below.