Among all the codes of football, rugby league seems to produce more than its share of off-field controversy – and this week’s jaw-dropping announcement of the new Super League licences was played out in real-time through social media.
We’ve blogged before about the use of social media among athletes, how Canada’s football league uses Twitter to great effect and how the UK’s ice hockey teams shape up in the social stakes.
Now we’re highlighting a prime example of how athletes’ access to their fans through social media enables a story to unfold and users to share a moment – in sports it could often be triumph or despair; but this time it was shock and rage.
For fans, staff and players at Wales’ top team Crusaders, it should have been a formality. They’ve hardly set the league alight on the field, have moved home twice in three years and had gone into administration. But their presence in Wales, and the Rugby Football League‘s desperation to establish top-level teams outside its North-of-England heartland ensured the smart money was on Wakefield Wildcats being ousted to make way for Widnes Vikings, and Crusaders being given another three years to prove themselves.
However, those watching the RFL’s media conference on television on Tuesday heard that Crusaders had withdrawn their application. What? We wondered if we’d heard correctly and we weren’t alone in our shock.
Players raged, fans sympathised. It was another example of how social media has brought supporters closer to the teams and sports they love – engaging in real-time discussion.
That’s fine, but it doesn’t change the fact that Wales has lost its presence in top-level rugby league in the most surprising of circumstances.
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