As the new season draws nearer, there is a narrative working under the Super League launch about IMG’s re-imagining of rugby league.
Teams like Warrington Wolves and Leigh Leopards are doing their best to impress with big opening nights and this was referenced by RL Commercial as they spoke about IMG’s re-imagining:
“That work behind the scenes, you don’t see a lot of it but it’s the classic duck moving with the feet going crazy below the surface and gliding along the top.
There’s an enormous amount of work being done behind the scenes with the IMG team and the RLC team really working hand in glove to bring a lot of these good concepts, good ideas to life. It isn’t about concepts and ideas, it’s about how do we deliver that to real tangible benefits.
“Hull KR have sold out, Leigh and Warrington are putting on spectacular shows next Friday. Castleford the week after against Saints is probably close to a sell-out, we’re expecting a healthy crowd at Leeds and Hull too.
“So whilst the noise was all, ‘oh it’s about 2023’, actually we’re seeing clubs don’t have that concept. They are very much focused on 2023 and making sure ’23 starts with a bang. They understand the importance of the visibility of the competition and the sport because they know the likes of Sky and Channel 4 are watching, and are going to be making decisions on us as a sport in the next couple of months.
“That’s been really good to see from a club perspective, they realise the bigger picture on the IMG stuff.”
In March IMG’s grading criteria will be revealed as they are set to bring licencing back to Super League with a vote on them in April.
They could then be scored in the summer of 2023 but their true score won’t be determined until the 2025 season:
“What we’re forgetting a little bit is that it’s a dry run in the first year. So yes clubs will have a score on the criteria in June/July of 2023 but actually it doesn’t kick in till the 2025 season.
“So there is actually still time for clubs to continue to work hard and improve their standards, both on and off the field, to actually get their first proper grading, as opposed to their dummy run grading.
“From that perspective I think it provides clubs a good lead-in time to aspire to be an A grade club. We know there will be some A grade and there will be some B grade clubs in the Super League competition, there will be some B grades in the Championship and that can only be a good thing for the sport if we have people striving to be better.
“I’d also say that doesn’t mean those Grade A clubs can just sit on their laurels, we want those Grade A clubs to become Grade A Star clubs and I think that’s the message that has started and needs to continue to get through.”