Samoa v Tonga was the future of rugby league

ROCHDALE – ‘Snack content’ is one of the dumbest marketing buzzwords in the world, but it’s one the NRL’s marketing department will be familiar with.

It’s the term for memorizing little clips, the instantly viral video that goes around the world in seconds after something happens. Entire sports are set up to create snackable content, and rugby league is one of them.

The NRL’s marketing department knows this, as it’s one of the main reasons they keep changing the rules of rugby league. The removal of the corner posts allowed for acrobatic tries, the six again spawned more killer moments, and the two-point field goal was, at least in theory, designed to increase the number of late equalizers.

They’re not as dumb as you think on Driver Ave, and they know exactly what they’re doing. Hopefully they were watching Samoa win over Tonga this weekend.

If they were, they might have been briefly reminded of their marketing slogan for 2022. ‘It’s all the real that makes Rugby League so unreal’ was a terrible line – and I’m highly qualified to say that, having worked for a decade as an editor for brands much bigger than the NRL – but the concept behind it is a good one.

Rugby league trades on authenticity as a USP, and authenticity is the hardest currency to buy. In a previous role with one of the biggest fashion companies in the world (I won’t name them, but you probably own a pair of their underwear) we’d pay many millions for musicians to be our “talent”, because their cool is what we wanted to be entrusted with.

As marketing ideas come along, selling rugby league as a sporting reality is a no-brainer. The Super League has brought in tough Northerners who have been doing exceptional things for decades. They bend down.

The NRL described the players as simply the best, with fans declaring what their team was and, yes, even direct calls for authenticity as a concept. What you get is what you see, nothing more.

Samoa v Tonga showed that in spades. That was all the NRL would like the non-rugby league punter – rugby league punters, of course, need not be convinced of the merits of rugby league – to think. It was fast, tough, skillful and dramatic, yes, but also diverse, respectful, egalitarian and modern.

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It makes you wonder why they wouldn’t want it more often. That’s what they think Origin is, but it hasn’t been for about a decade.

Prior to the invention of snackable content, or at least the coining of the term, we all understood the concept anyway because of the origin. I don’t know about you, but when I want to explain to a non-fan what Origin is, I’m not going to look for Mark Coyne at the corner or James Tedesco at the bell. I go straight to the MCG, first scrum, 1995.

That, then, was real. Now that is not the case. Dane Gagai hit Matt Burton in Game 3 this year and all I thought was, why? We have all evolved. The Origin is now a nostalgic product, a wet boomer dream that plays into a wider stereotype that rugby league is for Anglo-Celtic men in NSW and Queensland.

It is, in short, what the AFL thinks we are, and we respect it like dancing monkeys every year. Replay old battle tapes, ask if the other side wants it that much. You know the score.

It’s not an affront to Origin: personally, I find it a bit trivial but, once the football started, I appreciate it. It’s an all-star game that matters, and few sports have one.

But Samoa v Tonga – or any combination of well-matched international teams – brings it down midway through next week with more force than Taylan May walked into Keaon Koloamatangi on Sunday at Warrington.

International football, especially the one that highlights the diversity of cultures in our game, is what terrifies other codes.

Rugby union can never have it authentically because theirs is a sport based on where you went to school first and foremost. The AFL can’t have him either, as they would love to be like rugby union by shrinking their talent pool, and no one outside Australia cares one iota. Football has it, but Australia long ago decided they would like football without the authenticity, thank you very much.

When they do the collective bargaining deal with the players, the NRL’s marketing department is expected to knock on the CEO’s door, armed with reports telling them the numbers, commitment, metrics and gory content to munch on, and how they might want to take it into account. scheduling.

The War Dances alone made a million views in less than 24 hours on Twitter alone. Won’t anyone think of Tiktok?

The International Rugby League (IRL) can organize matches, sanction them, provide referees and generally organize things, but it’s the NRL, which holds player contracts through its member clubs, that holds the purse strings. . IRL would like the Australian authorities, the old whites who sit in glorified casinos and make decisions, to support the concept.

They don’t have to support it because they like it, but because it would make them a lot of money. They’re already selling a premium product in State of Origin, and they might have a second one.

Samoa v Tonga was great, and it would also be great to see them do it more often in convenient time slots and places where you would have a full crowd each time. Then, when they are done, also try the Fijians, Kumuls, Kiwis and Kangaroos. There is nothing on the agenda right now for this time next year.

Hope is eternal in the world of international rugby league. Games like yesterday demonstrate the product at its best, clippable, shareable and authentic. We were all winners yesterday. We can be winners again, if there is a will.

Sports Grp2

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