At a time when rugby league fans are all too keen to highlight the lack of marketing and attention paid to the sport, New Zealand’s touring team visited Liverpool Football Club’s Melwood training facility and drew a fair amount of attention.
After visiting the football club’s complex in 2015 and 2016, the Kiwis made a third trip to Melwood and rubbed shoulders with some of the top professional footballers in the world after a training session. Then, in the canteen, the Liverpool players and staff saw first hand one of the most impressive sights in sport – the Haka. Filmed and posted on the club’s official social media channels, the clip of the Kiwis performing the Maori ritual has drawn big attention. Solely on Instagram, the original posting has been viewed in excess of 600,000 times with many more impressions across other social media accounts.
Of course, this may not attract more people to Anfield for this Sunday’s test between the Kiwis and England and the video didn’t show any actual rugby league. However, the engagement of such a huge sporting team in the shape of Liverpool shows that there is a scope for increased attention in the sport if done correctly. Indeed, the Merseyside club’s head coach Jurgen Klopp spoke of the impact the Kiwis made on their visit. “It was great,” Klopp told the media. “They are a bunch of real sports guys, I think it’s the third time now that we’ve had the opportunity to host them.” Adding that he and the club are keen to learn from other sports and teams where possible, Klopp suggested that he may well tune in on Sunday to catch some of the match. “I’m interested in it actually. Obviously the sport is quite different but it’s still interesting to talk and have a chat. I enjoyed it a lot.”