Some of the key issues that need to be addressed in rugby league are highlighted by the questions in IMG’s survey of the sport.
The ‘reimagining rugby league’ consultation has been launched, with fans able to contribute until the end of August.
Inevitably, the structure of the game features, with a nod to the rumoured 2×10 system that has been speculated upon for the past few years.
What are the key questions?
Alternative broadcasters are always queried by rugby league fans, with a positive step forward the Channel 4 terrestrial coverage this year.
One question asks what fans currently subscribe to – including Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime, Now TV and DAZN.
The standard of refereeing and the disciplinary process is an option in a question about what people dislike most about rugby league, as well as the constant changing of laws, the match day experience and the cost.
There is then a list of statements that fans are asked their opinion of.
There are five options to choose from, ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree, with a neutral option in the middle.
Some of the big debating points in this are if there are too many Super League fixtures and if loop fixtures should exist.
The status of Magic Weekend on the calendar, whether there should be more international games and even if the Challenge Cup final venue should be moved each year.
A topical one currently is over the inclusion of French clubs, and whether they should participate in Super League, and also if rugby league should grow further in areas outside of the heartlands.
There are some left-field choices too. A question about whether Challenge Cup should remain as a pure knockout competition, and even a return for Origin games in men’s competition.
Later on, there is also a question about whether fans want to a city-based competition, similar to cricket’s “The Hundred” or more short-form versions of the games, such as sevens or nines.
As well as asking if fans agree or disagree about promotion and relegation, there are further questions about the structure of the game.
One question reads: “If Rugby League introduced a 10+10 league structure, whereby the Super League and Championship will consist of 10 teams in each league, with promotion and relegation to each league at the end of season, how appealing would this be to you?”
The 2×10 format has been speculated for a few seasons, though talk of it has gone quietly recently. There is still an expectation amongst some Championship clubs at least that it will come in to force from 2024.
Following that question is one on the number of clubs in Super League – and should it be 10, 12, 14, 16 or other.
IMG’s strategic review forms part of the first phase of the 12-year partnership with Rugby League.
A statement said: “The consultation involves all key stakeholders including clubs, partners, the media, players and coaches.
“The outcomes from the survey will be considered alongside the outcomes from the other consultations and IMG’s expert industry knowledge. IMG’s recommendations will be presented to clubs in late September – after the Women’s and Men’s Super League Grand Finals.”
The survey is running alongside digital transformation powered by IMG’s digital sports arm Seven League and a review of the sport’s brand led by Endeavor’s 160over90.
The partnership with IMG followed the realignment of Rugby League’s governance which has seen the creation of a new venture, RL Commercial – and more recently, the appointment of Frank Slevin as its inaugural Chair, and Ed Mallaburn, IMG Media’s head of sport, as a second Board member.
To take the survey, click here