Thursday 2 December 2021

RIP Rugby League Week - for many, our Rugby League education

Published December 2, 2021

What a magazine Rugby League Week was... it wasn't just Rugby League news, it was Rugby League journalism.

And there's a difference.

You learned something every time you bought RLW. 

It was, for many of us - our Rugby League education.

Scrambling to the local newsagent on a Wednesday (for the most part) was for any kid in school on the list of high priorities when the bell went at 3pm, and beginning with the incredibly consistent run of standout front covers, you were rarely disappointed giving up your pocket money, your parents' money or your own hard earned pay from your part time job.

With Rugby League not achieving TV saturation until the late 90s where you could find a way to watch every game if you had the coin to do so, the golden years of footy - the Winfield Cup Era - saw RLW form a symbiotic relationship with the TV and Radio networks who educated you on what was happening in Rugby League every week.

It was truly a special time to be a Rugby League fan... something that has been lacking in the years since for the most part.

Rugby League Week finally fell by the wayside in 2017 but had been clinging on by its fingertips for at least a decade as the digital access to Rugby League news finally matched up with the TV saturation domination.

Although RLW could not endure as digital took over (and although not entirely its own fault - in its final decade it just wasn't the same magazine you grew up with), when you compare it to the clicks over substance 'reporting' styles being rammed down our throats these days, it's embarrassing to RLW to have to put it in the same category as the current 'footy news' available to fans.

Imagine if Fox League or the Wide World of Sports treated the game with the respect RLW had in its hey-day digitally... imagine if they actually told stories, spoke to players after games, recapped games succinctly so you got a sense of what happened vs trying to find or invent a clickbait storyline, maybe celebrated the past to educate today's audience on what came before the NRL... and those are just a few ideas... now we won't ever get a weekly magazine back in circulation, but it's not overly optimistic expect better from the NRL's official broadcasters is it?

It was mentioned on the Facebook post this viewpoint was first floated on that the Telegraph should be included with Fox and WWOS but the Tele has been a one trick pony for years, it isn't changing.

For more viewpoints of readers on The Winfield Cup Facebook page - scroll to the comments.

Now perhaps we can dream Fox League and WWOS still might change. 

In fact, their decision makers may yet be surprised seeing what's possible if you treat the game with respect over clicks, and actually approached covering it journalistically... because right now, it just doesn't cut the mustard.

The editors and journalists who put the great RLW magazine together can't like what Rugby League media has become in the last 20 years, but without their work ethics, ethics and genuine passion for the game - there'd be generations who would've missed out on learning about the game and we would have a serious vacuum in Rugby League knowledge right now.

Because the value of knowing the how and why in the game and the history that comes with that, is something that can't be lost and like it or not - the current broadcasters have a responsibility to continue passing this on to future generations. 

PS. Jason Martin did in fact not take the Bears to the top in 1991... but what a cover. 
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