The Parliamentary Rugby League Group website may have only been running for a year, but in that time it has achieved nearly 18,000 hits from 80 different countries. The site, available at www.apprlg.org.uk, was set up in July 2011 to keep fans up to date about the work of the Group, its Members and meetings.
Mark Ramsdale, who acts as the Group’s Secretariat and manages the website, put this high level of engagement down to two factors. “Firstly, people perhaps weren’t aware that the was an active group of Lords and MPs interested in and battling for rugby league in Westminster and Whitehall so they would check the website out of curiosity.
“But, once they saw the work that the Group does, they would come back and keep up to date. We ran some very good campaigns over the past 15 months, including securing £500,000 from the NWDA for the 2013 World Cup, presenting the outstanding inclusivity work of the sport to politicians and the press, helping secure a rugby league statue at Wembley Stadium, and most recently, the campaign to change the BBC’s position on local radio sports coverage.”
The most popular section of the site is the news page, which is most regularly updated and broadcast using the Group’s Twitter channel @UKParliamentRL. The biggest number of hits in a day came in January 2012 after a series of announcements about the Group’s challenge to the BBC to change its position on BBC local radio. The campaign, which ran over several months was raised on twitter by fans and players, as well as discussed on rugby league forums and news sites.
Group Chairman, Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland spoke about the importance of the site. “I am delighted that we have achieved such high levels of interest in our first year online. Although the Group has been around for nearly 25 years, we haven’t had an online presence before. The website has helped us to engage more with fans of the sport and make them aware of the work Parliamentarians do on behalf of the sport. We have set ourselves a high target to beat in forthcoming years, but I am sure we will rise to that challenge.”
The Group expects to receive even greater numbers in 2012/2013 as the Group enters its 25th year, the Rugby League World Cup takes place and the Group expands its partnerships and associate memberships.