By STEVE MASCORD
THE London Broncos will be competing in Super League next year after agreeing to a ground sharing arrangement at Barnett – but what sort of side will they field? And can the NRL’s reported Wembley ambitions finally breath life into rugby league in the capital after 30 years of hand-to-mouth toil?
Some Broncos sides over the years have grossly underachieved after shipping in big names from Australia and New Zealand so we can only hope the opposite is true and a team of young locals can outstrip everyone’s – admittedly very low – expectations in 2014.
Which brings us to colleague Brad Walter’s recent story about the NRL planning an Origin game at Wembley.
To suggest 74,000 people attended the World Cup final looking for “NRL-style rugby league” would be more than a little egotistical on the part of the commission. They went looking for … a World Cup final. And most of them bought their tickets when England was still a chance of being there.
The expression is “build it and they will come” not “throw it out there and they will come”.
Even the mighty NFL had to saturate television in the UK for years before moving games to Wembley. To think a sport that struggles to get 2000 people to The Stoop every second week can suddenly attract 92,000 for a game between two Australian states is nothing short of extreme Antipodean hubris.
That is not to say we should abandon the idea altogether.
The beauty of it, in fact, is that the NRL now has an incentive to help the British game, and London in particular. If it truly believes it can make money out of the biggest city in the world where our sport has a professional club, then it should get on board and help that club.
This could take the form of scholarship arrangements for young Australian players, an investment in the club, outright ownership coaching assistance and pre-season training camps in either hemisphere.
Certainly the NRL will find it hard to capture the imagination of rank-and-file Londoners as something more glamorous than the flat cap-and-whippets northern game they know rugby league to be as long as it remains on obscure Premier Sports.
But ee had the answer first: NRL helping London. With the prospect of making some money, we now have the question.
CHEERLEADERS seem to be going the way of differential penalties and five-minute sin bins, and I know many of my female colleagues won’t miss them.