Kerry Perry – The Future of Rugby League in England

With the Salford City reds currently await a winding up petition hearing and the recent spate of big clubs going bust, it begs the question, what does the future have in store for Rugby League in England? Last season we saw one of the biggest clubs in English RL History, the Bradford Bulls arrive at the brink of bankruptcy and this season has already seen the Salford City Reds receive a “loan” from its own foundation, a foundation which was initially set up “for the benefit of the public”.

The question is, where is all the money going? And why is there so little filtering down into the grass roots of Rugby League in England?

The RFL board of directors often like to churn out the same old rhetoric about the high rate of the success and consistent growth of Rugby League in the UK over the past number of years. However, with the decline of such big clubs, can it really be classed as a success?

Last season is a prime example, we lost some big players not just to the NRL but also across codes to Rugby Union clubs, big clubs almost vanished into extinction, massive new stadiums were built but they scarcely fill the seats. Even the most loyal fans are falling out of love with the game and I am not surprised, this season has been laden mediocre performances and numerous games have been ruined by incorrect and sometimes downright farcical refereeing errors, the standard of game play has dropped massively, fans have been staying away in droves, even for the playoffs.

More and more fans of rugby league are finding themselves becoming ever more disillusioned with the English game and are waking up early to get their RL fix from the Aussies in the NRL, Why? Because they know how it’s done!

The games are entertaining and great to watch, both sponsors and fans get their money’s worth, excellent TV coverage from dedicated RL broadcasters, fans are pumped up and are actually excited to put their hands in their pockets and watch their team play, the quality of refereeing is light years ahead Superleague and the referees have full control of the game and the respect of the players.

Shall I continue?

OK then, the players are better, fitter, stronger, more agile, the state of origin games are the pinnacle of rugby league, everybody, everywhere wants a piece of those games. In comparison the English game offers us the Exiles game, a game in which players who cannot make a career in the NRL get to represent their hemisphere against the poms, and what of the players who can’t make the Exiles squad? There can be no hope for them right? Wrong, they simply locate their great grandmothers, best friends, sisters cousin twice removed and become English (Either that or go on holiday to Castleford for a weekend). So, after all that, do we have a spectacle to rival the State of Origin? Not a Buckley’s chance, let’s face facts, most players in England would rather be anywhere else in the world than lining up with the clown procession at Langtree park or wherever else the league sees fit to host this spectacle.

Which brings me back to my original question, what future is there (if any) for Rugby League in England? I decided to take to twitter to see what the renowned #RLFamily had to say, here are a few suggestions they came back with;

“the RFL needs a massive overhaul or I think we’ll struggle in the next few years. Outside SL is in a worse state”

“I’m not sure. But I know the current model isn’t working. Maybe fewer teams and changes to the salary cap?”

“bleak without major investment and sponsors”

“the soul of the sport was ripped out when promotion and relegation was swapped for licences. Have we moved forward since that day …have we fuck, we have gone backwards and still the top clubs get mis managed when Red Hall was suppose to oversee this and …prevent this from happening by “managing” the cap. RELEASE THE TRAPDOOR BEFORE ITS TOO LATE YOU CRETINS ON CHARGE”

Whatever the future holds for rugby League in England, if massive changes are not made soon by competent people, there will be no future for the game we love, and then who will the Aussies take to the cleaners? Wales?

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