“So sad that your website had to come down, Max”

That’s the message I got from a few people when I closed the website down a few days ago in order to work out what I was doing and more importantly, who I was doing it for … and WHY?!

More and more, people are used to getting things for ‘free’. Podcasts are free, websites are free, social media is free – we all want our content to be free and we don’t really care what is involved in making things ‘free’. Consumers expect we content creators to work that bit out for ourselves, right? Get a sponsor, sell some advertising – you’ll be fine.

Then, – once we have all media and content ‘free’ – we choose which content we want, and invariably it comes down to choosing who we get it from. This is a personality contest, unless your content is unique and sought after.

So where does that leave #WRD?

My website is the result of 10 years of hard work. Years of adding teams, then leagues, then fixtures, then results and adjusting and recording the resulting league tables. Then it was about adding the scorers to results – when almost no teams were publishing match reports, let alone scorers names … and when they were, they were constantly getting them wrong. I battled on. Each time a player gets added to my website, in order to award points to them in a match – a player profile page is created. There are now over 1600 such player profiles.

I foolishly thought that clubs would be interested in what I was doing and be keen to give me information to embellish these Player Profile pages, maybe add Bios and links to the Player’s sponsor maybe? Sadly, I was wrong. I thought clubs would be keen to tell businesses “Hey, look how popular our team page is on #WRD – you could sponsor our Team page if you like and get in on the action?”

I thought Broadcasters and Pundits would appreciate the work that had gone into rounding up and verifying stats from all across the internet and putting them in one, easy to use website. Again, I was wrong – the only one that was interested was my (now) good friend Johnnie Hammond.

I thought that ‘celebrities’ who spend hours on Twitter telling everyone how much they support women’s rugby, and how desperate they are to give it more coverage and give people more access to it – would be keen to tweet out “Hey everyone, check out this great website with stats about all our domestic competitions, clubs and players – find out all about your favourite players” – I was wrong. The only real long term promoters to date have been Gary Street and Catherine Spencer.

So, being someone who never knows when to give up – I took a stab at ‘expansion’ – I added the 6 Nations, Rugby World Cup and even the Interpros and the Super Rugby match in NZ. Again, adding more teams, more players, more results, more stats and yes – there was lots of traffic to the site for a while … but no more than 1 or 2 people looking to promote the website, – thank you Caoimhe Morris and Jess Hayden.

So with no support from the rugby ‘celebs’ and therefore no chance of ever being popular on social media – you can forget ever getting any kind of sponsor or advertising. The numbers just are not there.

What does #WRD cost?

The website costs around £500 a year to exist. That has been coming out of my pocket since the start. I had a brief foray into getting clubs to contribute, but only 3 or 4 Tier 2 clubs supported me so that was scrapped.

In addition to that, you’re looking at between 10 and 20 hours a month of time, creating and adjusting content.

Patreon Wall

So, the last roll of the dice is to have the content behind a Patreon wall. This means that if you pay £1 per month to support #WRD you will have access to all the content on the website. If you don’t, you will only be able to access a couple of key pages like the popular ‘Find a Club’ page and some of the older competitions.

#WRD currently has 30 Patreons and raises around £25 per month. If this is still the case by the start of the 2021/22 Season then I will have no choice but to make the call that the website is just an archive. So Patreons will be able to access old competitions and player stats that are accurate up to the impending 2021 Premier 15s final – but no new content will be added. This is tragic and it makes me very sad.

Thank you

I want to sign off on a positive note, so I will say thank you to the small core of people that have supported me throughout my journey. Looking at this list, we may not have had quantity … but we certainly had quality:

Catherine Spencer
Johnnie Hammond
Gary Street
Sean Phelan
Becky Williams
Mel Antao
Kira Drabble

Thank you all, and thank you to my 30 Patrons you’ve been fantastic!

All good things come to an end and it feels like this summer will probably be the end of WRD, as it moves from trying to be a live hub for fixtures & results ‘as they happen’ to a Wiki type static archive. It will serve me well as a reminder that sometimes, you just can’t will something to be. This is 2021 and this is media, not rugby – which means if the popular kids aren’t interested in you … then I’m afraid, – nobody is.

Yours in rugby,

Max.

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