With the standard of the Intrust Super Cup at it’s highest level ever and the success of Ipswich Jets breaking through for their maiden premiership, it’s time to build on Queensland’s fascination with the competition.
The competition already does a great job to promote their game with the great ‘Get in the Game Country Week’ taking the game to country towns throughout the state. True rivalry rounds plus other single theme days at each club have added to the Cup’s popularity.
There’s always more the Queensland Rugby League can do to promote this fine competition and with the draw still not announced there’s still time to consider a ‘Magic’ type weekend.
As ever, the best ideas are usually copied and this one is no exception. Having been lucky enough to attend a Magic Weekend in the UK where all the teams meet at the same venue over two days on the weekend, it is an idea that I believe will work in Australia if only rugby league administrators would take the risk.
Given the Queensland Rugby League seem to be willing to give their game every chance to shine especially though it’s partnership with the Nine Network and live streaming of some matches, it seems maybe the best chance to get it to work in Australia is if the Intrust Super Cup is used as the guinea pig.
Sure there’s the carnival atmosphere of the Auckland Nines, but it’s not a real competition is it? The beauty of the ‘Magic’ weekend is that you get the carnival atmosphere with fourteen groups of fans all getting involved with each game based on rivalries and counter-rivalries, but the games still matter and you get a proper eighty minutes of football.
Some could argue that the ‘Magic’ weekend works because it is top grade Super League and wouldn’t work for the Intrust Super Cup, but with the recent announcement of the second tier Rugby League Championship in the UK heading back to Blackpool next for a second installment after a strong first year, it shows the value in holding such a carnival for a second tier competition.
In fact the Summer Bash is a more realistic comparison as the Intrust Super Cup for all its great fans and quality of play will not attract the high 30,000’s or over 40,000 they got in Newcastle in 2015.
In the first year at Blackpool, the Summer Bash attracted 8,650 fans on the Saturday and 7,021 on the Sunday. Given the Intrust Super Cup Grand Final attracted just over 8,000 despite a torrential downpour a few hours before the game probably removing some of the walk up general interest crowd, you could think given the right amount of advertising that 10,000 wouldn’t be out of the question. A strong PNG community in Brisbane would help produce that type of attendance result.
With the Summer Bash going rate at 30 GBP for a 2 day pass and 20 GBP for one day, charging around the same amounts but in Australian dollars ($35 for both days and $20 for either) would present tremendous value for money. If you got a 3,000 diehards for both days, and a further 7,000 on either of those days it would rake in almost $250,000. If split equally between the teams the revenue would equate to 1,750 fans per team at the regular $10, a figure not all the clubs would get on a regular basis. Plus with the extra exposure and media hype, if promoted well or if one could persuade Fox Sports to come to the party, it would add extra value to the competition.
So when and where could this Carnivale be played?
Well the when could be played in three optimum times. It could be a wonderful way to open the year – starting the season off with a bang and potentially tempting people to attend more than the one game during the rest of the season. Other times would include over the International break (although that would diminish both and so not a great idea really) and probably the best place for it would be during the half arsed Origin affected truncated NRL rounds when just the four or five games with origin absentees are on offer.
Given that the interest in the NRL is at a season low during this period, it is the perfect time for the Intrust Super Cup to boldly take over the limelight. A fact already pointed out during the 2015 season is that an Intrust Super Cup game had more fans through the gate than all the other NRL games during one of these Origin rounds.
So where could it be held?
The romantic would love to see it played at PNG, or Mackay, Cairns or one of the great suburban grounds, but to do the concept justice an NRL standard ground would likely be needed. So that leaves Townsville, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium would make the most sense to begin due to the saturation of teams in the south east, but if it is a success then why not let it spread its wings elsewhere. The Magic Weekend in the UK works because it isn’t a traditional rugby league town, but to give the Queensland based concept its best chance, it needs to start in the capital.
It would be a fantastic idea that would work and really give the Intrust Super Cup the extra boost it deserves. Think of how the State Championship has grown in just two editions, this in spite of the people’s call for it to be played and creating a truly worthwhile NRL Grand Final day being ignored for years. It is likely not going to happen in the NRL given the administration’s troubles right now so the Intrust Super Cup should become the pioneers and reap the benefits. So will the fans with all the great rugby league in one place over a weekend.