It’s not often I’m in the mood to put pen to paper or in this case fingers to keyboard to have a moan about something but something has been needling away at me for a fair few weeks now and I feel the need to share.
To put things into some context; I’m a Southerner, Essex born and bred and have actually only lived outside of the county for 2 years, I’m the middle child between 2 sports mad brothers and had a Dad who was very sports focused too. I’d say my first love was cricket, my Dad played so I was brought up on the side of a cricket pitch – and no I didn’t then make the teas, as was suggested at a 20/20 last season, I scored as I got older so I could stay watching the game.
Wendyball came next when I started going to Tottenham Hotspur with a boyfriend at about 15; we didn’t stay – the football did! Those were the days of standing on the terraces and a more honest form of the game. I still enjoy the odd game, not so much the play acting and crowd behaviour.
Rugby union came into my life when I was 17, yes another boyfriend; this one played, so I watched him every weekend and we went to as many England games as we could get tickets for. I can recall one All Blacks game where we went on spec – we bought 2 tickets which it seems were 2 of a 100 that had been stolen! Rather than be thrown out we were actually moved to better seats! There’s no way that’d happen today!
Rugby League was always a game in the background – I grew up in the days of Grandstand; Saturday afternoons if not out at football were spent watching the 13 man code listening to one Eddie Waring with his Up and Unders! The live game became a part of my life in 1996 with the advent of Superleague. My older brother was involved with sponsoring London Broncos and he invited the whole family to watch them play St Helens at Charlton FC. I was instantly hooked! And so my passion for the game started.
Being a Broncos fan hasn’t been easy over the last 18 years but goodness I’ve seen some great rugby league, often being played against my team but I’m one of those people who can appreciate skill for the sake of it. Over the years I’ve tried to watch as much league as I can often spending whole weekends in the North; I watched 5 games in 4 days last summer for example.
Club rugby union became a feature at the time Wasps Rugby were at their peak; distance meant a season ticket wasn’t feasible but as many matches as possible were seen. Clever marketing by Saracens a team much nearer saw that Season ticket bought; it was rude not to at £89! That was 6 years ago and after a few dull years I thoroughly enjoy my Premiership rugby.
Twitter gave me the opportunity to write about RU, I was approached by 3 websites to write and wrote a piece for all; but liked the feel of In The Loose and so here I am! In The Loose is clearly a union term, but my passion for league has meant we introduced a rugby league section. As well as writing about the game here I do as much as I can to try and raise the interest in what I believe is a wonderful game!
As the site has grown so have the opportunities; rugby people are great across the board and make themselves very accessible; I’ve been lucky enough to interview some great players, ex-players and others involved in both codes.
My moan and comparison is going to come around the issue of media access. Premiership Rugby have been great over the 13/14 season and into this season. Although with the number of pro writers involved it’s hard to give access to club games they’ve been great at giving access to matches at Twickenham and have me and other fellow ‘blog’ writers on their press release list. They include those of us who choose to write about our passion and spread the word.
The Welsh Rugby Union take a similar view and my inbox is full of press releases from both unions. I’ve been able to attend and ‘report’ on some great events due to the information contained within.
Access to media facilities makes such a difference to the actual writing if we’re looking at match reports; it’s so much easier to have a desk of sorts and power, it means the report for the most part can be written there and then. It’s sometimes a struggle to fit the writing in with the day job which pays the mortgage.
As far as rugby league is concerned I have season tickets for London Skolars and Hemel Stags and did have the same for Broncos; the season too many of their games clash with Saracens but I will get to as many games as I can. So, for games in the South Media access really isn’t an issue, however to have that access for the games I’m able to get to in the heartland would make a world of difference. As would being able to be included in press releases.
After several attempts at contact with the RFL I eventually had a reply from their Communications man; to say his reaction was negative would be a complete and total understatement! He firstly informed me that I didn’t need media access to write about the game – very kind of him as I had been doing just that for well over a year!
Then I had to prove that I had an agreement to be paid for what I do, that I can’t do because I’m not! When I pointed out that I know others who have access who aren’t paid and generally only write about one club he agreed; yet told me that as I was neither employed to write or a trained journalist it was still a no! In his opinion ‘Media Access gives access to places fans shouldn’t be allowed to be in’ . I probably lost my temper a little in my response to that telling him I’m not some sort of loony trying to get close to the players!
Weeks after the exchange I’m still fuming and I am as a rule a very even tempered person; I’m so very tempted to send copies of the correspondence to every club chairman in Superleague and across the board to show them how the people in charge of helping to spread word of their game communicate with someone who writes for a site with 500K views a month! An article in a newspaper comes and goes; those of us writing online have our ‘stuff’ available for ever and a day.
One game is on the up and has growing crowds across the board; the other struggles. Is it any wonder when those at the RFL seem to have a closed shop mentality? This rugby league Essex girl will however keep spreading the word of what is a great game; if you’ve never been to a live game you really must give it a go! Its a no brainer – rugby all year! Who wouldn’t!