Representatives of the ten Rugby Super League clubs met last month in Las Vegas to discuss the upcoming season, the expanded playing schedule, club sponsorships, the impact of the rumored professional rugby league, possible upcoming expansion, and many other topics.
The upcoming season will see each team in the Super League play an all-time high of eight matches beginning on March 10. The increase in matches can be both good and bad for all the teams involved. "Teams are happy that they get to play eight regular season games...Some teams would like to see more regular season games," said RSL President Sean Kelly, adding that "as usual the discussion went into the reasons why this is hard to do, as travel costs would increase." Kelly indicated that unless teams could find a way to offset travel costs, it would be difficult to play more matches than the current eight.
Also raised at the meeting was the issue of sponsorship. Kelly said that finding a national sponsor for the league was very difficult but that clubs had been very active in securing sponsorships from local bars, gyms, apparel companies, and local businesses. The league hopes that as more clubs transition into better facilities, more local businesses will begin to see the benefits of supporting a team.
One question fans had heading into the offseason was whether the league would have an increased media presence in 2012. In response to this question, Super League clubs invited a media firm to give a presentation at the meeting. As a result, the league is planning on a redesigned website that should come online before the 2012 season begins. The new website should make it easier for fans to follow the league and their favorite team.
The meeting also addressed the rumors of a new professional rugby competition in America. When asked if this was an issue amongst the clubs, Kelly responded by saying, "The RSL teams feel that if investors are willing to start a new league and put millions of dollars into it, then why not invest in the RSL which is already in place and a viable league?" Kelly also stated that none of the clubs had been approached to enter a team in the rumored league. One team mentioned that they had been rumored to be involved but had "no intention of leaving the Super League."
While it may be a relief to many Super League fans that no club had the intention of leaving and only the Chicago Lions dropped out in the offseason, it is welcoming to fans to hear that representatives did discuss expansion for 2013. Kelly said the league will continue to look at potential teams and that the league did invite new teams to participate in 2012 but that those teams declined.
Overall, the meeting has set the agenda for what looks to be an extremely active season for the league both on and off the pitch.