Australian journalist Andrew Webster has claimed rugby league “might not have long to live.”
Writing as the Chief Sports Editor on the Age down under, Webster claimed that though the sport is in a worrying place on the field in the NRL “it has never been better.”
This is an interesting assessment given where Super League is at the moment.
We are currently enjoying one of the most competitive starts to a Super League season ever with shock results the order of the day week in and week out.
Yet the plight of the sport beyond the on field product is up in the air with all but one TV deals expiring this year as well as IMG’s re-imagining of the sport set to take place this week.
It also comes at a time when Eddie Hearn has claimed rugby league is “absolutely bang in trouble” after being unable to get himself properly involved in the sport in recent times.
He has claimed that Super League doesn’t have enough stars on The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast.
This was his assessment:
“Stars are the most important thing. We were close to doing something with rugby league a few years ago but it was all or nothing.
“They wanted us to come in and look at the Challenge Cup and a few different elements of the game and I said ‘no, we need to control the game’.
“It has to be built and the problem is that both codes aren’t delivering numbers. Away from the big international stuff and the Six Nations, stuff like that, the reality is that viewing figures are horrendous and the reason is because you don’t have any stars.
“The reason you don’t have any stars is one of two reasons, one because maybe there aren’t any characters or personalities around anymore or two, they’re not accessible.
“I would think that there has to be but also I’m a promoter of individuals really but to promote a sport essentially, you have to highlight those people and make them stars.
“I said to the rugby league guys ‘I couldn’t name you half a dozen players’ and actually even in rugby now. That’s frightening.
“I said to the rugby league guys ‘do you know when I think of rugby league I think of Ellery Hanley, maybe Jamie Peacock’ but that’s who I grew up with.”
All of this is food for thought for both the NRL and RFL as they both try to keep rugby league thriving.