Innovation Roger Draper Rugby

Rugby League Leads the Innovation Movement in Sports

June 8, 2017

By Roger Draper (RFL Chief Commercial Officer and Super League Executive Director)

You can’t help but admire two of sport’s super-brands – NFL and Premier League – and the way their games and players have an impact on many fans around the globe.

Changes in these games are often put under the media microscope and discussed by many.

I’ve followed the news of a potential NFL franchise in London and the recent video technology trials in football with great interest.

Why would I follow these two topics? Rugby League has an early experience of implementing changes like these, from the introduction of the video referee in 1997 to welcoming the sport’s first-ever transatlantic team to the league this year.

Steve Jobs once said: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

Rugby League has never been frightened of innovation – we aim to be at the forefront when it comes to change. From reducing the number of players to 13, adopting substitutes, video technology (referee cam and player cam), to welcoming new teams to the competition.

We are a sport that never sits still and constantly wants to improve the game day experience on and off the field.

Regular communication throughout the year with our stakeholders enables us to focus on the issues that matter. Identifying areas of potential advantage, testing and implementing is often a quick process due to the accessibility of Rugby League and the vision of the clubs and individuals involved.

One of the most successful Rugby League World Cup tournaments was hosted in the UK in 2013 and our bid to host the tournament here again in 2021 was accepted last year.

Who knows how innovative the 2021 World Cup could be and how close supporters can get to the action.

One thing you can guarantee; we’ll give it a try!

Innovation Roger Draper Rugby