Harlequins Rugby League

Harlequins Rugby League: Successfully Growing a Sport Business in an Expansion Territory

Wednesday 10th November 2010 at 6pm

Lankaster Lecture Theatre (University College London),
Medawar Building, Malet Place,
(off Torrington Place)
London WC1

Given by: Paul Blanchard, Chief Executive, Harlequins Rugby League


Harlequins Rugby League is one of the fourteen members of the Super League, the top-level professional rugby league football club competition. Two teams in the league are from outside England: the Catalan Dragons from France and the Crusaders from Walters.  The rest are from England

Historically rugby league has been strongly supported in the Lancashire – Yorkshire corridor in the north of England where eleven of the Super League teams are based. However Harlequins Rugby League is based in London, and over the last five years has established itself as a permanent and growing institution in the capital’s sporting firmament.

In this presentation Harlequins Rugby League CEO Paul Blanchard will first explain the organisation structure of Super League. The competition was established in 1996, when the competition also moved to summer rugby, as part of an organisational and marketing overhaul of the sport. Since then the competition has steadily grown in popularity and has a broadcasting deal with BSkyB.  The competition has been consistently innovative in the development of regulatory policy designed to improve the quality of the league. Most notably it introduced a licensing system in 2005 for clubs participating in the league from 2009. Clubs applying to compete in Super League XIV in 2009 were assessed by criteria in four areas (stadium facilities, finance and business performance, commercial and marketing and playing strength, including junior production and development). Successful applicants were licensed for three years of Super League competitions. Three-yearly reviews of Super League membership are to take place to ensure ambitious clubs lower down the leagues can still be successful. Paul will in particular explain how the licensing system has helped to develop Super League since its inception.

In the second part of his presentation Paul will outline how Harlequins Rugby League management has developed the club’s internal business competencies to assist it to grow and prosper as a firmly established member of the league.

Paul will conclude by discussing the prospects for Super League and Harlequins Rugby League in the future.



  • Paul Blanchard grew up in Liverpool and went to University in Leeds. Since then he has been working at the highest level in a wide variety of sports throughout the UK. His extensive CV includes positions with the Scottish Premier League, NFL Europe, Ladbrokes, Southampton Football Club, Surrey County Cricket Club and Hull Kingston Rovers. Paul sits on the Board of Directors and is responsible for the day to day running of Harlequins Rugby League, his top priority is to increase attendances at matches.

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