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Non-Saints Games ‘24

The problem isn't really Wembley stadium, the problem is the Challenge Cup and the way it is structured. Years ago, Cup finals would get 75,000-80,000 quite comfortably at Wembley. The Challenge Cup just isn't that prestigious anymore. SL teams come in so late that they end up playing other SL teams, so it doesn't really feel special. You only have to win 4 games to win the competition so it doesn't really have time to gain momentum or feel important.
The Challenge Cup (and the internationals for that matter) has never been the same since Lindsay's mergers and the mess he caused with Widnes, Keighley and all the rest. Years ago the Rugby League community was a pretty tight one. You'd have fans from every club - including the lower leagues - journeying down to Wembley (or Old Trafford) in full regalia. The SL/summer rugby affair did a lot of damage. It totally disenfranchised fans from many of the smaller clubs and they just cashed in their chips and walked away. It didn't help that it balkanized the fanbase into "Progressives" and "Flat cappers" who launched into a bloody civil war which lasted for years. In retrospect it was handled appallingly by all sides.
 
I don’t think it’s solely the prestige of the cup that's made the final and the competition as a whole what we see today. Looking at the past finals, really we should be shouting from the rooftops about the cup final. The highest winning margin in the last nine finals has been fourteen points, with finals settled in golden point, by two, one, six, four and two points in other finals. We've had seven different winners in nine finals and eleven different finalists in that time.

Some of the issues I do see with the cup are:

* Firstly, people's habits have changed massively. The number of social clubs, working mens clubs, pubs, clubs etc have shrunk significantly and subsequently, coaches full of daytrippers regardless of whether their team was playing or not just doesn't really happen anymore.
* The season ticket culture brought into the game has seen the cup and its earlier rounds become less significant and less of an occasion than they have been in the past as people are tied into season tickets and getting value from them.
* There's costs and events elsewhere that have overtaken the Challenge Cup Final. The Grand Final is a bigger event these days and with Catalans and Magic Weekend, you are guaranteed to see your team compared to the Cup final, where your team could get knocked out early and it's all over for another year, whereas with Magic Weekend, you will see your club, for example.
* I think the regularity of fixtures makes games less appetising. Playing loop games and just so many games against the same small cluster of teams has made games less appealing, there just isn't really that much tension and hunger for games when you're going to play them barely six weeks later in a, largely, inconsequential league game. I'm not sure I advocate chucking Super League clubs in earlier because for the Whitehaven aways, you also have your London Skolars' at home in front of fewer than 3,300 people and for all the stick that the cup gets for low crowds against the perceived bigger clubs, I'm really not sure anything is solved by making groundworkers and school teachers sacrificial lambs to be pumped by seventy-odd points.
 
I say this a bit, so apologies for doing it again, but we as RL fans must take some of the blame for the Cup losing importance. You can say the same thing has happened to the FA Cup, but at least that is only one of 4 comps top clubs can win every season and is competing with the almighty PL and high-prestige European comps. In RL, the Cup is one of only 2 things our clubs can win, and yet we've gradually let it slide through apathy and being useful idiots to Sky in their attempts to downgrade it. We can't blame coaches or players, they all take it seriously, we never see top teams playing weakened sides and we never see players treating it with contempt. It is the fans who treat it with contempt, don't turn up to games and have swallowed the line that the diluted and far less important weekly rounds are the be-all-and-end-all.

When an old and famous competition is taken seriously by clubs, coaches and players, is given billing on the BBC and yet is played infront of poor crowds, who is to blame here? Tens of thousands flock to pointless concepts like Magic Weekend, tens of thousands buy STs to watch 27 rounds of qualifiers but stay at home when the only actual 'must-win' games played before Sept come around. These are active decisions made by RL fans every year, this has been going on for 20 years, we've let it happen. And let's not forget, the same happens in the play-offs as well. As a fanbase of the sport we have collectively decided that the 6 or 7 weeks of the season that actual matter are the ones we're least likely to bother going to. If you were looking at this from outside of the game you'd think RL fans were a very very strange bunch.
 
It's not a SKY product. So it has almost zero interest in promoting it.
It never needed to promote it, it just needed to not be negative about it. In the past Hemmings in particular would talk it down, saying stuff like "after the sideshow of the Cup we're back to the important business" when presenting the Fri night game the week after. The introduction of play-offs back in 1998 was a massive culture shock for fans who had only remembered FPTP, and there was a conscious or sub-conscious desire at Sky to bolster the perceived importance of the weekly rounds to subscribers and fans within this 'new' format, and talking down the Cup played a part in those efforts.
 
It never needed to promote it, it just needed to not be negative about it. In the past Hemmings in particular would talk it down, saying stuff like "after the sideshow of the Cup we're back to the important business" when presenting the Fri night game the week after. The introduction of play-offs back in 1998 was a massive culture shock for fans who had only remembered FPTP, and there was a conscious or sub-conscious desire at Sky to bolster the image of the weekly rounds within this 'new' format, and talking down the Cup played a part in those efforts.
It's unrealistic to expect a company owned by Rupert Murdoch to be generous with a rival competition. Or probably any major international media conglomerate. As that infamous group of men whose names all ended in vowels used to say, "It's nothing personal. Just business".
 
I say this a bit, so apologies for doing it again, but we as RL fans must take some of the blame for the Cup losing importance. You can say the same thing has happened to the FA Cup, but at least that is only one of 4 comps top clubs can win every season and is competing with the almighty PL and high-prestige European comps. In RL, the Cup is one of only 2 things our clubs can win, and yet we've gradually let it slide through apathy and being useful idiots to Sky in their attempts to downgrade it. We can't blame coaches or players, they all take it seriously, we never see top teams playing weakened sides and we never see players treating it with contempt. It is the fans who treat it with contempt, don't turn up to games and have swallowed the line that the diluted and far less important weekly rounds are the be-all-and-end-all.

When an old and famous competition is taken seriously by clubs, coaches and players, is given billing on the BBC and yet is played infront of poor crowds, who is to blame here? Tens of thousands flock to pointless concepts like Magic Weekend, tens of thousands buy STs to watch 27 rounds of qualifiers but stay at home when the only actual 'must-win' games played before Sept come around. These are active decisions made by RL fans every year, this has been going on for 20 years, we've let it happen. And let's not forget, the same happens in the play-offs as well. As a fanbase of the sport we have collectively decided that the 6 or 7 weeks of the season that actual matter are the ones we're least likely to bother going to. If you were looking at this from outside of the game you'd think RL fans were a very very strange bunch.
I'll never understand how fans can go every week at home then 3-4k don't bother when we have an important knock out game at home.

This season we will only have 2 KO games at home yet I'd bet the combined home attendance won't be much more than a normal league game.
 
I'll never understand how fans can go every week at home then 3-4k don't bother when we have an important knock out game at home.

This season we will only have 2 KO games at home yet I'd bet the combined home attendance won't be much more than a normal league game.
Maybe it's just down to economics ? You can spread he cost of a season ticket out over a year,but the knockout games are extra and it all adds up. What's easier money wise,spend however much extra or buy a now tv day pass ?
 
I don’t think it’s solely the prestige of the cup that's made the final and the competition as a whole what we see today. Looking at the past finals, really we should be shouting from the rooftops about the cup final. The highest winning margin in the last nine finals has been fourteen points, with finals settled in golden point, by two, one, six, four and two points in other finals. We've had seven different winners in nine finals and eleven different finalists in that time.

Some of the issues I do see with the cup are:

* Firstly, people's habits have changed massively. The number of social clubs, working mens clubs, pubs, clubs etc have shrunk significantly and subsequently, coaches full of daytrippers regardless of whether their team was playing or not just doesn't really happen anymore.
* The season ticket culture brought into the game has seen the cup and its earlier rounds become less significant and less of an occasion than they have been in the past as people are tied into season tickets and getting value from them.
* There's costs and events elsewhere that have overtaken the Challenge Cup Final. The Grand Final is a bigger event these days and with Catalans and Magic Weekend, you are guaranteed to see your team compared to the Cup final, where your team could get knocked out early and it's all over for another year, whereas with Magic Weekend, you will see your club, for example.
* I think the regularity of fixtures makes games less appetising. Playing loop games and just so many games against the same small cluster of teams has made games less appealing, there just isn't really that much tension and hunger for games when you're going to play them barely six weeks later in a, largely, inconsequential league game. I'm not sure I advocate chucking Super League clubs in earlier because for the Whitehaven aways, you also have your London Skolars' at home in front of fewer than 3,300 people and for all the stick that the cup gets for low crowds against the perceived bigger clubs, I'm really not sure anything is solved by making groundworkers and school teachers sacrificial lambs to be pumped by seventy-odd points.
That's an excellent post and one I agree with in it's entirety.
I like the timing now it gives a good break between the two major competitions. The cost however is getting more disproportionate.
As a Wigan fan, we've had to buy our season tickets and only played three non pay games so far. All the away games, two Challenge Cup rounds, semi-final, Final and WCC had to be paid for. If say you're a family of four it's very expensive.
We went down for the day on Saturday, just doing the day trip by coach. Normally we would have done Thursday of Friday until Sunday but the cost of Train plus hotel was prohibitive.
 
Maybe it's just down to economics ? You can spread he cost of a season ticket out over a year,but the knockout games are extra and it all adds up. What's easier money wise,spend however much extra or buy a now tv day pass ?
I'm sure that may effect some but you're talking about £20 twice with 3./4 months in between so I think it's got to be more than that.
 
I'm sure that may effect some but you're talking about £20 twice with 3./4 months in between so I think it's got to be more than that.

Could it be down to the fact we play some teams 3/4 times in a season and that's before knock out games? I don't think that has a positive effect on people wanting to go. I'll give it a miss this week, as we play team X again in a few weeks anyway. If we play Wigan twice in the league, magic weekend, CC and play-offs and that's potentially 5 times in a season and that's if they don't become a loop fixture that season! It's ridiculous and it become tedious.

The cup is a complete shambles now to be honest. SL clubs are almost guaranteed to be facing another SL club as there are very few lower league clubs left in by the time they enter the competition. We may as well scrap the early rounds altogether, and it just becomes another competition based around SL. I'd much rather see SL clubs enter early, have an open draw and hope to get a tie against a lower league side, granted they will win easy more often than not but it's a great experience for the lower league sides, a good cash injection for them and it's also a chance for SL fans to visit those grounds etc. We have actually been fortunate in recent years as we had Halifax/Whitehaven away, which were both good days out and something different and we took good crowds both times.

There's just no appetite for more games involving 2 SL sides, IMO.
 
If you are a family of 5, it's a tad more than £20.
That's a very specific example, though.

Be plenty of adults who go all season and then don't go based on attendance numbers. It isn't just families etc.

Even in that scenario you know it's coming for 2 months in advance. I think if you can afford 5 STs then you can probably afford 5 tickets with 2 months notice as a discounted ST rate?

Then you've got the casuals who only go to the odd game, they'll turn up for a big game like Good Friday but not a SF against Wigan.
 
Could it be down to the fact we play some teams 3/4 times in a season and that's before knock out games? I don't think that has a positive effect on people wanting to go. I'll give it a miss this week, as we play team X again in a few weeks anyway. If we play Wigan twice in the league, magic weekend, CC and play-offs and that's potentially 5 times in a season and that's if they don't become a loop fixture that season! It's ridiculous and it become tedious.

The cup is a complete shambles now to be honest. SL clubs are almost guaranteed to be facing another SL club as there are very few lower league clubs left in by the time they enter the competition. We may as well scrap the early rounds altogether, and it just becomes another competition based around SL. I'd much rather see SL clubs enter early, have an open draw and hope to get a tie against a lower league side, granted they will win easy more often than not but it's a great experience for the lower league sides, a good cash injection for them and it's also a chance for SL fans to visit those grounds etc. We have actually been fortunate in recent years as we had Halifax/Whitehaven away, which were both good days out and something different and we took good crowds both times.

There's just no appetite for more games involving 2 SL sides, IMO.
I think this must have an impact. The loop fixtures are draining. For example us playing Cas at H twice isn't something anyone from either side would particularly look forward to so if we got Cas H in a cup then people would say that's enough.

I suppose it'll be a variety of reasons ranging from this to some being families and the cost etc.

The club should do something on STs where people pay £20 more but if we have a home knockout game they can get a ticket for free, if we don't it's a club shop voucher maybe? Keeps the money in the club and helps spread the cost for fans if they pay DD for season tickets.
 
The whole replacing loop games with group games in the cup just doesn’t work for me because it’s still the same thing, just with a wig on and attempted to sell under the bracket of part of a season ticket. We may get the odd group game against a Halifax or Widnes but the majority will be yet another home game against a Cas or a Salford but it’ll just be for two points in the cup instead of two points in a long league season. How’s that exciting? It’s just the same thing. At least with a knockout game, there’s a real, immediate consequence with defeat. In a group stage, that’s reduced somewhat.

A properly governed Super League and RFL would have spent much of the past thirty years establishing a bigger competition so that there was still some variety in fixtures but doing everything on the back of fag packets and being sold the next monorail every few years by someone with an ego and a bit of cash has lead to an ever decreasing circle and lead to so many repeat fixtures. There’s no scarcity to this sport and as a result, less interest and tension allowed to fester and build up ahead of games because if you missed a Saints v Warrington, Wigan v Leeds, Hull v Hull KR etc then you’re probably only going to have to wait six weeks, give or take, for the next instalment and that’s without accounting for what happens with cup draws and the playoffs.
 
Could it be down to the fact we play some teams 3/4 times in a season and that's before knock out games? I don't think that has a positive effect on people wanting to go. I'll give it a miss this week, as we play team X again in a few weeks anyway. If we play Wigan twice in the league, magic weekend, CC and play-offs and that's potentially 5 times in a season and that's if they don't become a loop fixture that season! It's ridiculous and it become tedious.

The cup is a complete shambles now to be honest. SL clubs are almost guaranteed to be facing another SL club as there are very few lower league clubs left in by the time they enter the competition. We may as well scrap the early rounds altogether, and it just becomes another competition based around SL. I'd much rather see SL clubs enter early, have an open draw and hope to get a tie against a lower league side, granted they will win easy more often than not but it's a great experience for the lower league sides, a good cash injection for them and it's also a chance for SL fans to visit those grounds etc. We have actually been fortunate in recent years as we had Halifax/Whitehaven away, which were both good days out and something different and we took good crowds both times.

There's just no appetite for more games involving 2 SL sides, IMO.
The points are well made, but remember that a loop fixture would be part of the 'twice in the league +Magic' and not additional to (i.e. you can't play any other team more than 3 times in the 27 League fixtures).
 
The points are well made, but remember that a loop fixture would be part of the 'twice in the league +Magic' and not additional to (i.e. you can't play any other team more than 3 times in the 27 League fixtures).
A 14 team super league with first passed the post, 13 home games 13 away games, and a challenge cup where the top tier comes in at the round with 32 clubs solves that problem
 
The points are well made, but remember that a loop fixture would be part of the 'twice in the league +Magic' and not additional to (i.e. you can't play any other team more than 3 times in the 27 League fixtures).
I don't understand why we don't just have 22 league games a season, playing every other team home and away. Some teams inevitably end up playing more difficult fixtures than others which makes the whole fixture list uneven.
As for the challenge cup becoming less important in the season's fixtures, that is wholly down to Sky wanting to create their own 'big match'.
So they based it on the Aussie Grand Final, and went out of their way to belittle and sideline what was always our game's showcase event, the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
It is interesting that many of the Antipodeans still regard a Wembley final in the Challenge Cup as the game they really want to play in.
I think it is a real shame the way things have gone, when I think back over the years to some of the great games and occasions at Wembley, with 90 odd thousand crowds, fantastic matches and spectacular tries.
The GF at OT is more often than not a borefest played in drizzle, where the teams die with the ball on the last tackle because the in-goal areas are too small and the players are in real danger of injury if they try to dive on the ball.
When was the last really entertaining GF (entertaining as opposed to dramatic, as in JW's last minute try)? I can't really think of one.
 
I don't understand why we don't just have 22 league games a season, playing every other team home and away. Some teams inevitably end up playing more difficult fixtures than others which makes the whole fixture list uneven.
As for the challenge cup becoming less important in the season's fixtures, that is wholly down to Sky wanting to create their own 'big match'.
So they based it on the Aussie Grand Final, and went out of their way to belittle and sideline what was always our game's showcase event, the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
It is interesting that many of the Antipodeans still regard a Wembley final in the Challenge Cup as the game they really want to play in.
I think it is a real shame the way things have gone, when I think back over the years to some of the great games and occasions at Wembley, with 90 odd thousand crowds, fantastic matches and spectacular tries.
The GF at OT is more often than not a borefest played in drizzle, where the teams die with the ball on the last tackle because the in-goal areas are too small and the players are in real danger of injury if they try to dive on the ball.
When was the last really entertaining GF (entertaining as opposed to dramatic, as in JW's last minute try)? I can't really think of one.
Revenue mate you need 14 teams ideally to do that, we've 3 or 4 poor teams now that would go to 6 or 7 standards are bad enough as it is
 
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