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Thread: Issues in the game

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    Default Issues in the game

    We've had numerous 'State of the Game' threads on here, most of them really good and containing loads of great points. But they haven't gone anywhere, and most of the issues we've raised haven't gone away and in some senses they have worsened.

    Some have said it would be a good idea to write a proper letter, signed by loads of us, sent directly to the RFL, clubs, RL media, newspapers like the Mirror that cover the game, outlining the issues that we spend loads of time talking about on here. Let's make this official, let's write something and send it, in the post, signed by loads of us, and then put copies of it online, spread it around, and see if we can't get some attention.

    We are in the great position as fans of the back-to-back champions that we can't be accused of moaning about the sport because our team is being disadvantaged or because we're not winning stuff. We are the fanbase that can complain and not have it thrown back in our faces, so why not.

    I am happy to draft something based upon your ideas and contributions. I'm also happy to get out of the way and let someone else do it if they want.

    But I/we need to know that enough of us see problems big enough to justify it. So this is your chance to give me your ideas, subjects to raise, etc. It's also your chance to tell me/us that this is un-necessary. There's no point doing it if only 6 of us want to add our name to it.

    I'm getting the ball rolling, I'm happy to get this started, but it needs others to justify it being a worthwhile venture.

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    A letter? It would be more like a book. Still, a good idea though.
    St Helens Rugby League Football Club

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dos Cervezas View Post
    A letter? It would be more like a book. Still, a good idea though.
    Yes, there is the danger that whoever sends it will have to pay excess postage costs if we stuck everything in there! I think we can summarise and keep it sharp and to the point. Anyone that has read my posts on here will know that this is why I'm asking for loads of help, because brief and to the point isn't my strong point!

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    Is the salary cap still having a positive effect on the sport or is it just dragging the standard down to the lowest common denominator in the name of ‘competitiveness’? What if we scrapped the cap and let teams spend what they could afford to based on income/turnover or owner’s deep pockets?
    Forwards win games. The backs decide by how much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Wee Waa Womble View Post
    Is the salary cap still having a positive effect on the sport or is it just dragging the standard down to the lowest common denominator in the name of ‘competitiveness’? What if we scrapped the cap and let teams spend what they could afford to based on income/turnover or owner’s deep pockets?
    Noted, thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray77 View Post
    We've had numerous 'State of the Game' threads on here, most of them really good and containing loads of great points. But they haven't gone anywhere, and most of the issues we've raised haven't gone away and in some senses they have worsened.

    Some have said it would be a good idea to write a proper letter, signed by loads of us, sent directly to the RFL, clubs, RL media, newspapers like the Mirror that cover the game, outlining the issues that we spend loads of time talking about on here. Let's make this official, let's write something and send it, in the post, signed by loads of us, and then put copies of it online, spread it around, and see if we can't get some attention.

    We are in the great position as fans of the back-to-back champions that we can't be accused of moaning about the sport because our team is being disadvantaged or because we're not winning stuff. We are the fanbase that can complain and not have it thrown back in our faces, so why not.

    I am happy to draft something based upon your ideas and contributions. I'm also happy to get out of the way and let someone else do it if they want.

    But I/we need to know that enough of us see problems big enough to justify it. So this is your chance to give me your ideas, subjects to raise, etc. It's also your chance to tell me/us that this is un-necessary. There's no point doing it if only 6 of us want to add our name to it.

    I'm getting the ball rolling, I'm happy to get this started, but it needs others to justify it being a worthwhile venture.
    Great idea this.

    The Sky coverage is a major issue. It's dated, clunky & enforced a northern stereotype on the sport..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Fridge View Post
    Great idea this.

    The Sky coverage is a major issue. It's dated, clunky & enforced a northern stereotype on the sport..
    Yes. Directly affects the 2 major questions about the sport:
    1) How do we get more people watching?
    2) How do we get better players playing?
    Forwards win games. The backs decide by how much.

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    The slow PTB will always be the entertainment-killer for me. Defences are so well-drilled these days anyway, so the last thing the sport needs is giving defences another boost. We know some teams (*cough* piescum *cough*) make the 'dark arts' of slowing the PTB central to their entire gameplan.

    It all makes for a borefest arm-wrestle.

    Some will suggest that the points/tries scored tally hasn't changed that much, but we need to consider the method of scoring.

    Look back to the first decade or so of SL, and see the proportion of tries scored from at least 20m out and 40m, compared to close-range barge-overs and tries from kicks. Similarly, even the close range tries will have almost certainly have had a break or two leading up to them.

    These days, it's all too often a grind-a-thon. Teams playing for territory, inching up the field in short distances (5-20m) per tackle. Wingers and centres used primarily to run the ball into organised defences early in tackle counts.

    Offsides are rarely enforced, and Warrington make persistent offside part of their gameplan - they'll rotate which player(s) will charge out of the line (just before the PT to close down the first receiver and nullify attacks.

    Warrington also deploy the cheat of 'strategically timed HIA's'. I've mentioned before how frequently one of their players goes down clutching their head when then opposition make a break and look to attack a disorganised defence, or when they're desperately defending their line.


    In all, I'm sick of cynical stretching/exploiting of the rules. All coaches will try to suss out ways to make the rules work to their team's advantage, but in the last 10-15 years, we've seen this concept stretched into what I would consider cheating. And the worst aspect is, this is all making the game far less attractive as an entertainment spectacle, turning off casual fans.
    I f*cking hate wi*an. And rugby yawnion. And Tories. And Brexit f*ckwits.

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    The marketing of the sport, we would need Sky to buy in as the host broadcaster for most of it though, how many adverts have you seen in the last couple of years about the sport, they are usually very short and not on often. After the Grand Final we could be pushing for more advertising time and using different media, not only Sky, another example being the marketing of the Lions tour in 2019, everything about it was wrong, it was poorly marketed and felt like an afterthought on the season, rather than something it should have been built towards.

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    Changing the structure / format of the league every season makes the game look amateurish and as if they don’t know what works best for the sport.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Webbo Again View Post
    The slow PTB will always be the entertainment-killer for me. Defences are so well-drilled these days anyway, so the last thing the sport needs is giving defences another boost. We know some teams (*cough* piescum *cough*) make the 'dark arts' of slowing the PTB central to their entire gameplan.

    It all makes for a borefest arm-wrestle.

    Some will suggest that the points/tries scored tally hasn't changed that much, but we need to consider the method of scoring.

    Look back to the first decade or so of SL, and see the proportion of tries scored from at least 20m out and 40m, compared to close-range barge-overs and tries from kicks. Similarly, even the close range tries will have almost certainly have had a break or two leading up to them.

    These days, it's all too often a grind-a-thon. Teams playing for territory, inching up the field in short distances (5-20m) per tackle. Wingers and centres used primarily to run the ball into organised defences early in tackle counts.

    Offsides are rarely enforced, and Warrington make persistent offside part of their gameplan - they'll rotate which player(s) will charge out of the line (just before the PT to close down the first receiver and nullify attacks.

    Warrington also deploy the cheat of 'strategically timed HIA's'. I've mentioned before how frequently one of their players goes down clutching their head when then opposition make a break and look to attack a disorganised defence, or when they're desperately defending their line.


    In all, I'm sick of cynical stretching/exploiting of the rules. All coaches will try to suss out ways to make the rules work to their team's advantage, but in the last 10-15 years, we've seen this concept stretched into what I would consider cheating. And the worst aspect is, this is all making the game far less attractive as an entertainment spectacle, turning off casual fans.
    Correct. I remember watching every game that was on Sky over a weekend, Thursday to Sunday, no matter who was playing. Plus then watching any highlights during the week, watching Boots N All, etc and now the game as a whole is not worth watching/investing your time in unless it's your team that is playing.
    Jordan "B**tard" Turner!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomsepho View Post
    The marketing of the sport, we would need Sky to buy in as the host broadcaster for most of it though, how many adverts have you seen in the last couple of years about the sport, they are usually very short and not on often. After the Grand Final we could be pushing for more advertising time and using different media, not only Sky, another example being the marketing of the Lions tour in 2019, everything about it was wrong, it was poorly marketed and felt like an afterthought on the season, rather than something it should have been built towards.

    The problem as I see it with that is we could throw millions in marketing at it, and most casual viewers who tuned in would be thoroughly underwhelmed at the spectacle and likely not bother watching again.

    We need to make the game entertaining and worth watching. That doesn't mean a bunch of morons screeching about the game on screen being some sort of brilliant classic (like the last Grand Final, which was nervy, given the closeness of the game and what was at stake for fans of both sides, but was poor in terms of quality attacking, and simply boring for the neutral casual viewer)

    To me, the sport shot itself in the foot with a bazooka in 2007 when they moved away from the principle of enforcing a quick PTB and full 10m offside line.

    And I still earnestly believe the effectiveness of Cunningham & the emerging Roby at creating disarray in defences from DH, played a big part in the thinking behind the decision. Both were integral to our sweeping of the board in 2006, and I think the RFL/SL were terrified of us dominating again and again.
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    While I’m not against the idea of promulgating a list of issues that are “we” believe are required to be addressed, I think it is important at the outset to identify the desired outcome of such activity.

    Would it be attempting to improve things for current fans, including armchair viewers, or is the focus on attracting new followers and investors? Or a mix of both?

    The problem as I see it is that the nature of changes in game management favoured by existing fans will significantly differ from those currently uninterested or disinterested in rugby league and that some of the requisite palliatives may be mutually exclusive. The letter, therefore, needs to have a sharp focus and must not merely be a long, rambling whinge list covering every facet of the sport. If that is what it becomes, it will be easier for those defending the status quo to pick elements of the list to resist change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Webbo Again View Post
    The problem as I see it with that is we could throw millions in marketing at it, and most casual viewers who tuned in would be thoroughly underwhelmed at the spectacle and likely not bother watching again.

    We need to make the game entertaining and worth watching. That doesn't mean a bunch of morons screeching about the game on screen being some sort of brilliant classic (like the last Grand Final, which was nervy, given the closeness of the game and what was at stake for fans of both sides, but was poor in terms of quality attacking, and simply boring for the neutral casual viewer)

    To me, the sport shot itself in the foot with a bazooka in 2007 when they moved away from the principle of enforcing a quick PTB and full 10m offside line.

    And I still earnestly believe the effectiveness of Cunningham & the emerging Roby at creating disarray in defences from DH, played a big part in the thinking behind the decision. Both were integral to our sweeping of the board in 2006, and I think the RFL/SL were terrified of us dominating again and again.
    I think both issues feed in to one another, improving the product would make marketing the sport easier and marketing the sport better would force those in charge to make improvements to speed up the game, such as strictly policing the play the ball area.

    Either way, it only happens if those who run the game listen to those who want improvements in the game, there are too many involved at the minute who are happy with what they have and dont want to take a risk and do something to make the sport better, we need to get power away from the Yorkshire cabal that Hetherington has and in to those who want the sport to improve.

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    I think I'm correct in saying we've had 6 different systems for decided the champions in the SL era

    FPTP - adopted from the pre-SL days
    Top 5 - weighted to give Top 3 an extra life
    Top 6 - weighted to give Top 2 an extra life
    Top 4 - knock out semi finals
    Top 5 again - same as previous Top 5
    Top 6 - used in 2020 and again this year

    6 different systems in 26 seasons shows a distinct lack of direction and conviction. We now have an era of our sport where some teams have won the league title from positions where they wouldn't have even made the play offs in other years. We now have no real way of comparing champions because lots have won the league various ways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray77 View Post
    I think I'm correct in saying we've had 6 different systems for decided the champions in the SL era

    FPTP - adopted from the pre-SL days
    Top 5 - weighted to give Top 3 an extra life
    Top 6 - weighted to give Top 2 an extra life
    Top 4 - knock out semi finals
    Top 5 again - same as previous Top 5
    Top 6 - used in 2020 and again this year

    6 different systems in 26 seasons shows a distinct lack of direction and conviction. We now have an era of our sport where some teams have won the league title from positions where they wouldn't have even made the play offs in other years. We now have no real way of comparing champions because lots have won the league various ways.
    The Top 4 on the back of the hated Super 8’s, i think that farcical idea did a lot to damage the sport, there was nothing wrong with either the Top 5 or the Top 6, but they just have to meddle with things, making it worse. Why cant we have it where we have 14 teams, play each team home and away, have a Magic Weekend against a randomly drawn team and then the Top 5/6 playoffs, I’m really not a fan of loop fixtures.
    Last edited by Tomsepho; 5th February 2021 at 13:03. Reason: Typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray77 View Post
    I think I'm correct in saying we've had 6 different systems for decided the champions in the SL era

    FPTP - adopted from the pre-SL days
    Top 5 - weighted to give Top 3 an extra life
    Top 6 - weighted to give Top 2 an extra life
    Top 4 - knock out semi finals
    Top 5 again - same as previous Top 5
    Top 6 - used in 2020 and again this year

    6 different systems in 26 seasons shows a distinct lack of direction and conviction. We now have an era of our sport where some teams have won the league title from positions where they wouldn't have even made the play offs in other years. We now have no real way of comparing champions because lots have won the league various ways.

    wasn't there a top 8 play off system as well? Your list also doesn't take into consideration the amount of teams in the league, licensing with no relegation, relegation, club call and various different gimmicks that they have probably tried that escape my memory.

    In reply to your original post: Dear Sky, please, please, PLEASE drop that crap "techno" try music. It is no longer 1993 and Mr Vain is no longer in the charts. Firstr complaint of many probably!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tabasco View Post
    While I’m not against the idea of promulgating a list of issues that are “we” believe are required to be addressed, I think it is important at the outset to identify the desired outcome of such activity.

    Would it be attempting to improve things for current fans, including armchair viewers, or is the focus on attracting new followers and investors? Or a mix of both?

    The problem as I see it is that the nature of changes in game management favoured by existing fans will significantly differ from those currently uninterested or disinterested in rugby league and that some of the requisite palliatives may be mutually exclusive. The letter, therefore, needs to have a sharp focus and must not merely be a long, rambling whinge list covering every facet of the sport. If that is what it becomes, it will be easier for those defending the status quo to pick elements of the list to resist change.
    The aim should be the very future of the game at a professional level.


    Currently, we have what should be one of the most vibrant, exciting sports in the UK (and beyond) on the verge of potential extinction as a full time professional sport for the variety of reasons that we are all aware of, inter alia:

    - governance of the game by the RFL etc
    - presentation of the game by Sky
    - standard of officiating / training and devt of refs
    Etc, these are just some of the main areas of concern for me, there are others, clearly.

    Once collated, they could be used as main headings, with the salient points of each itemised and enlarged upon beneath each heading.

    Would help the submission to have some coherent structure.
    "The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom." Danny Blanchflower.
    Might have been written by a footballer about football - but never a truer word............

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomsepho View Post
    The Top 4 on the back of the hated Super 8’s, i think that farcical idea did a lot to damage the sport, there was nothing wrong with either the Top 5 or the Top 6, but they just have to meddle with things, making it worse. Why cant we have it where we have 14 teams, play each team home and away, have a Magic Weekend against a randomly drawn team and then the Top 5/6 playoffs, I’m really not a fan of loop fixtures.

    I'm in the minority I know, and I appreciate the issues that clubs faced WRT planning, but I actually liked the Super 8 concept.
    I f*cking hate wi*an. And rugby yawnion. And Tories. And Brexit f*ckwits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by warringtonsaint View Post
    The aim should be the very future of the game at a professional level.


    Currently, we have what should be one of the most vibrant, exciting sports in the UK (and beyond) on the verge of potential extinction as a full time professional sport for the variety of reasons that we are all aware of, inter alia:

    - governance of the game by the RFL etc
    - presentation of the game by Sky
    - standard of officiating / training and devt of refs
    Etc, these are just some of the main areas of concern for me, there are others, clearly.

    Once collated, they could be used as main headings, with the salient points of each itemised and enlarged upon beneath each heading.

    Would help the submission to have some coherent structure.

    You're right that we have to structure this.

    I know I went off on one with my own gripes about the current game, but identifying the problems of the game needs to be the first step. From what I think and others have said, these problems include (and some cross-over, or are linked to others):

    The sport lacks money
    Our sponsor 'suit' is predominantly low-value, and lacks blue chip involvement
    The company who has our TV rights produces a dated and often moronic matchday presentation, with poor quality commentating
    Viewing figures are poor, and generally declining
    Feedback from casual fans is that the game lacks excitement and attacking flow
    Many long-standing RL fans are similarly bored with the overall gameplay on show
    Our best players are routinely lured away to the NRL and, to a more infrequent degree, to RU
    Some teams have structured their whole game around stretching/cheating the rules
    The leadership of the sport is anaemic and frequently appears incompetent
    The sport receives very limited media coverage (even amongst our TV partners Sky and the BBC)
    Marketing of the sport is amateurish and gimmicky
    Rule are tweaked every year, usually with at least one hare-brained gimmick

    Our core aims should be to:

    Put in a leadership structure that is more able, more professional and removes parochialism and self-interest by clubs
    Focus rules on making the game attractive, by improving the scope for attack and making the game less regimented with defences dominating games
    Improve the number of people who watch and are interested in the game, through making the game more entertaining and much better/more effective marketing
    Improve the presentation of the TV product, with a much better commentating/summarising team and less of a focus on dicking about and telling stupid anecdotes
    Establish the popularity of the sport as more widespread within the UK and France, then to expand further.
    Attract a better quality of sponsor as well as a higher level of sponsorship income
    I f*cking hate wi*an. And rugby yawnion. And Tories. And Brexit f*ckwits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray77 View Post
    Some have said it would be a good idea to write a proper letter, signed by loads of us, sent directly to the RFL, clubs, RL media, newspapers like the Mirror that cover the game...
    Can I suggest that you sent a copy to the All Parliamentary Group for RL?
    https://publications.parliament.uk/p...gby-league.htm

    ...Although they do seem to be part funded by the RFL!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Webbo Again View Post
    The slow PTB will always be the entertainment-killer for me. Defences are so well-drilled these days anyway, so the last thing the sport needs is giving defences another boost. We know some teams (*cough* piescum *cough*) make the 'dark arts' of slowing the PTB central to their entire gameplan.

    It all makes for a borefest arm-wrestle.

    Some will suggest that the points/tries scored tally hasn't changed that much, but we need to consider the method of scoring.

    Look back to the first decade or so of SL, and see the proportion of tries scored from at least 20m out and 40m, compared to close-range barge-overs and tries from kicks. Similarly, even the close range tries will have almost certainly have had a break or two leading up to them.

    These days, it's all too often a grind-a-thon. Teams playing for territory, inching up the field in short distances (5-20m) per tackle. Wingers and centres used primarily to run the ball into organised defences early in tackle counts.

    Offsides are rarely enforced, and Warrington make persistent offside part of their gameplan - they'll rotate which player(s) will charge out of the line (just before the PT to close down the first receiver and nullify attacks.

    Warrington also deploy the cheat of 'strategically timed HIA's'. I've mentioned before how frequently one of their players goes down clutching their head when then opposition make a break and look to attack a disorganised defence, or when they're desperately defending their line.


    In all, I'm sick of cynical stretching/exploiting of the rules. All coaches will try to suss out ways to make the rules work to their team's advantage, but in the last 10-15 years, we've seen this concept stretched into what I would consider cheating. And the worst aspect is, this is all making the game far less attractive as an entertainment spectacle, turning off casual fans.
    Years ago I was invited to focus group by the RFL, a group of saints fans picked at random, it was during the time Cunningham was in his pomp, and we were destroying teams with quick PTB. However in room of about 12 people well over half wanted to get rid of this since it was stopping the progress of ball players like Murphy etc, completely missing the face that Tommy Martyn was one is the last true ball playing halfbacks, and these quick PTB created space.

    Those people got heir way and we ended up with the farce of players tackling then looking at the ref for when they can release.

    I for one likes the quick PTB era, it made exciting watching, but there will be people who somehow won’t admit that this grind is boring.

    Getting the balance between attack and defence is crucial currently the rules favour defence too much.

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    I think we need transparency in the disciplinary process, because currently there is very little, if any. Players are committing the same offences but coming away with different gradings and punishments. It would also help if they included clips of the actual offence so that the fans know what has been cited, its a simple thing that engages fans and increases transparency, how many times do we get a disciplinary notice and wonder what it was for.

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    Inconsistent reffing is a problem,one ref will let a game flow,the next week a ref will let a team slow things down. It's the same with penalties one ref will bin a player another won't even blow a penalty.

    Coupled with the disciplinary panel who are just as inconsistent it's becoming a real problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brook View Post
    Inconsistent reffing is a problem,one ref will let a game flow,the next week a ref will let a team slow things down. It's the same with penalties one ref will bin a player another won't even blow a penalty.

    Coupled with the disciplinary panel who are just as inconsistent it's becoming a real problem.
    Problem with some of the refs is that they arent fit enough to keep up with play so have to slow it down, Hewer seems to be the one who slows it down the most, just so happens he looks like he could only move at speed if someone mentioned food was on offer, he probably tucked in to the free Papa Johns the most.

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