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Dear @TheRFL (Part 3)

Dear @TheRFL (Part 3)

Dear the RFL,

Honestly, this is the last one but this one is a bit more controversial, We’ve discussed New Audience and Increased Revenue ideas, these last ideas are probably the least likely to happen but they do make a good discussion point.

A clear 12-month calendar of events and international games

With the current financial state, there is less disposable income going around, holidays and away trips must be booked earlier to get the best prices, We should know right now when and where the Magic Weekend is being played so hotels can be booked and travel can be organised whilst it’s cheaper and it’s much easier to get a group trip together at 12 months than it is at 4 months.

A five-year game plan

Following on from the 12-month calendar, let’s be open about where we want the sport to be in 5 years and have a plan in place to get there.

  • What is the long term plan with the Magic Weekend & Summer Bash
  • What is the plan for the build to the UK Hosted World Cup
  • What is the plan with the Super 8’s, Qualifiers and the Shield?
  • The current broadcast deal ends in 2021, We don’t know what the television market will be like at that time, we need to be prepared for the contract to be renewed but at less than the current one depending on viewership, the inclusion of digital rights, coverage of the championship.

Fill the stadiums

The Magic Weekend & Summer Bash make me proud to be a Rugby League fan, not many sports can have fans from all teams sat next to each other for a weekend of games from teams across a league.
However I’ve first-hand experience of someone new to the sport watching the coverage and the first thing they focus on is how empty the stadium is, it’s embarrassing.

Events like this and the Challenge Cup are a massive marketing opportunity to people new to the sport and we must look at filling the seats as much as possible even if it means sacrificing short term profit to ensure a good visual advert and atmosphere.

Create a culture of more openness.

Whilst the RFL is a business and is under no legal obligation to explain us the reasoning behind any decision. Confidence and support from fans in the decisions made is dependent on openness and explanation. Some of my personal points;

  • How successful was the streaming experiment with the England game, how many paid and viewed? Are there any more planned?
  • What was the reasoning for Bradford staying in the Championship with a –12 penalty other than ‘it was the for the good of the sport’?
  • Is there a plan for the championship clubs IF Bradford is relegated to League One, Toronto is promoted and Catalans replace Hull KR, I imagine the lack of away gate money could be seriously hurtful to some clubs.
  • I don’t much care for stories about the salaries of directors, the figure quoted didn’t seem unreasonable if it’s in line with other sports of our size (what does the head of curling make?) or if it’s based on job performance but we don’t know anything about that so of course the number sounds incredible to most of the fan base.
  • How was the Wigan home game in London seen internally, do we have more games planned in London or other areas.

Start slowly, get a blog that is updated regularly with some of the things going on at the RFL and grow into it.

I don’t expect a formal response from the ramblings of a fan, I’ve said before that the only thing a Rugby League fan loves more than Rugby League is moaning about Rugby League but I wanted to try and do something constructive and put some ideas out that I’ve not seen discussed before (Like Club Catchup).

Thanks to everyone who has tweeted, retweeted, shared on Facebook or engaged on social media with me to discuss ideas. 

This is the last part of the open letter to the RFL and with that, I’ll go back to shouting from the sidelines.


Dom Hodgson


Dear @TheRFL (Part 2)

Dear @TheRFL (Part 2)

Dear the RFL,

Hello, It’s me again, back for Part 2 of my suggestions, in Part One we focused on a finding a wider and younger audience in this part I want to suggest things for increasing revenue for current clubs in the long and short term.


Club Catchup

I believe each club has the ability to record and release home game coverage and commentary 24 hours after the game. However, only some clubs take this opportunity  ( and

What would be the scope in each club recording the home games but the RFL creating a subscription to access them all with the money divided between each club?

This should be separate to any broadcast partner

This could be a foundation for a possible long term streaming solution so if the contract renewal in 2021 doesn’t go as well as we all hope it does.

Encourage Toronto & other ventures

Toronto opens up a massive new market of fans, sponsors, and television distribution deals, if they can get a fanbase of 7000+ to a game then we must encourage the team to grow and bring some of the fanbases to away games.

Take a Super League game out to Toronto and have it as a double header with one of the Toronto games, the fans get to know 2 new games and see some Super League Quality and if / when Toronto get promoted, the teams that went to Canada are likely to be the away games that people go to as they will recognise the names.

Segment the email database

The emails that are sent out from the RFL are generic mass mails, you have so much data based on ticket habits, location, quantity and price band.

The segments for targeting with this data are pretty wide with scope for increasing ticket sales;

  • If someone buys challenge cup tickets every year but has never bought a grand final ticket, send them an offer.
  • If someone has been to Magic Weekend but not the summer bash, introduce them to it with highlights and introductions.
  • If someone regularly buys 5 or more tickets at a game, send them a group deal
  • If someone hasn’t bought a ticket in 3 years, ask them why and collate the information

Use the 18th Man monthly newsletter to promote all games of all levels in that local area starting with SL, Championship & League 1 and then allowing Amateur and other clubs to submit games for listing.


Thanks again for reading these, the feedback yesterday was great and yes I know I’m ‘probably just talking to a brick wall’ but at least I can say I gave it a go, the final part of this letter will be tomorrow and it’s more internal rather than external.


This follows on with Part 3


Dear @TheRFL (Part 1)

Dear @TheRFL (Part 1)

Dear the RFL,

As we begin to close the 2017 season, the press and fans are focused on ‘what we can do to improve Rugby League’ and the inevitable answer from the fans is Marketing which leads onto TV advertising.

I disagree, I think we can do other things to help market the game that doesn’t involve TV advertising and would fit within a small < £100,000 marketing budget.

Like any marketing proposal, it needs a clear goal, I’d like us to have a larger and younger viewing audience.

Cultivate an online audience

TV Advertising is the biggest response to the question ‘what can we do when it comes to marketing’ but when, where and why? a 30-second spot in the middle of X-Factor can cost £200,000 and what exactly are you selling in those 30 seconds? Rugby League, Super League, the Challenge Cup?

The season opener advert with Jonny Vegas ( is a good advert, but it’s a good advert for fans of the sport already.

My suggestion is in three parts;

Youtube advertising.

We look at a selection of sports that have either a similar game structure (grass field, ball, teams, concept of goal) or passionate and large fan base;

  • Rugby Union
  • American Football
  • Football
  • Ice Hockey
  • Basketball

We produce a 2 minute youtube video for each sport that starts with some of the best clips we’ve got from the last few years and explains the similarities between the sports and how certain positions match up, this could be interlaced with video clips of tries, cheering fans, beautiful fans and hits so hard you can hear them in the cheap seats.

This video will run as a video on the end of videos of the specific sports, so after I’ve just watched “rugby union best tries” it’s followed up by an introduction to Rugby League for Rugby Union fans which opens Ryan Hall’s try at Huddersfield for instance.

Upon clicking the video the visitor is taken to a rugby league resource dedicated to the new fan.

Help with introductions to the sport

The first result in google for Rugby League explained is, that’s not very helpful.

We need an official area for new fans, introducing basic concepts of the game and answering questions with both text and videos

  • What is a fullback / halfback / winger
  • What is a 40 20
  • What is the Challenge Cup

One of the best explainer videos produced by the RFL has been the Introduction to the Super 8’s – (I go back to every now and then just to remind myself how it works!) but the domain name linked to on that has expired and so there is no follow on to help with further questions.

Make one game regularly available for free

We need a legal way for new fans to be able to see quality full game content without resorting to piracy, it’s too much to ask someone to take out a Sky or Premier sports subscription who isn’t fully sold on the game.

The BBC does an excellent job with the rights they have but that’s less than 10 games a year in most cases and after 30 days that content is never seen again.

I’m not suggesting live streaming of a game for free (at the moment) but is there a deal to be had with Sky for them to have one of the games available for free on a sky sports branded page (with links to buy sky sports of course) from the previous week or two (whereas that game would have little value for them)

Having a match with full high-quality coverage available to the public without a subscription can provide an easy to reach taste of what rugby league is.


This is part one of a small collection of ideas I have that I believe can be practically achieved with a small to medium budget.

Obviously, this post is written without any deep knowledge of budgets and long term partnership contracts 

But Money in the sport is limited and to get the level of sponsorship we’d like, our base needs to become wider, the sponsors look at viewership numbers, demographics, and probable ROI, there is a reason that the Rugby Union is sponsored by Land Rover and 02 whilst Rugby League is sponsored by Dacia and Mushy Peas.


Thank you




Why not read part two? and then part three