A ground-breaking forum which brought together NRL and Super League club representatives to share best practice has been hailed as a major success for the sport.
The forum featured keynote presentations from senior figures involved in both competitions, including the Chief Executives of respective champions South Sydney Rabbitohs and St Helens, Shane Richardson and Mike Rush.
The event took place today at MediaCityUK in Salford ahead of this weekend’s World Club Series and Super League General Manager Blake Solly believes it will bring the two competitions closer together.
“The Best Practice Forum was a very rewarding and informative initiative which further cemented the healthy relationship that exists between Super League and the NRL,” said Solly.
“It was a hugely successful venture and is certainly one we will be looking to repeat in the future.
“The presentations showed what an exciting journey the sport is on, both here and Down Under. We face similar challenges and opportunities and are both working hard to maximise the success of a sport that is experiencing a fantastic period of growth.
“It’s clear that Rugby League has a great future on both sides of the world.”
Shane Richardson, who has lead clubs in both Australia and the UK throughout his club career, delivered an engaging presentation on the membership scheme that has helped transform the fortunes of South Sydney Rabbitohs. Richardson explained how the club had grown from having 18,500 members in 2010 to 31,000 Members to date with a goal of 35,000 in 2015 and outlined the benefits that forging closer links with supporters had brought. This included the Club’s efforts to engage with its Members on a ‘Members First’ basis as often as possible, and listening to their valuable feedback to provide Members with what they want from their Football Club.
Paul White, the Chief Executive of Brisbane Broncos and a former Hunslet player, explained the Queensland club’s sponsorship strategy and Peter Doust, the long-serving Chief Executive of St George Illawarra, detailed how the Dragons worked to maximise fan engagement through digital and social media.
From Super League, Wigan Warriors Marketing Director Simon Collinson delivered a presentation on the success of the club’s ‘Big One’ concept which had produced significant attendance growth whilst Neil Kelly from the Warrington Wolves Foundation spoke of the sterling work undertaken in the fields of social welfare, health, education and young people.
St Helens Chief Executive Mike Rush chronicled the way in which he had transformed the culture within a club which is now profitable after years of financial losses, despite being one of the most successful clubs of the Super League era on the pitch.
The event concluded with a presentation from Andrew Hill, the NRL’s General Manager League Integration and Development, who spoke of the governing body’s ambitions to maintain profitability, invest for the future, enhance player welfare and continue the growth that has seen the NRL become Australia’s largest sporting competition.
This historic weekend of Rugby League concludes with the 2015 World Club Challenge, St Helens vs South Sydney Rabbitohs, at a sold-out Langtree Park in St Helens on Sunday at 7pm (Monday 6am AEDST).