I don't know how long the BARLA funding is in place for, but I would hope it would be for at least three seasons to give them time to grow the competition and get other sponsors on board. Rome wasn't built in a day, but the competition so far has been brilliant and very competitive. The £5,000 sponsorship from BARLA isn't a huge investment for this level of competition, but it meant the difference between the competition starting and helping to revitalise the game in Cumbria or being yet another good idea that was discarded. I would certainly see it as a better long term investment that taking a tour to somewhere like Germany or to play in a rugby union competition in Dubai.
Cumbria has been through some bad times and the game generally gets ignored in this part of the country, but the game is trying very hard to reinvent itself and so far the signs are good. There will always be teams that want the prestige of playing in the NCL, but I don't think people realise how strong the Cumbria Men's competition is, there are some very good teams in it and they would give the majority of NCL teams a good game in exactly the same way as the top teams in the Pennine League.
Maybe its time to review the National Cup and create a two tier competition for the district league clubs with a regionalised cup competition for the top division and the last two in each region going into an open draw for the last couple of rounds? The same format could be used for the teams in the lower divisions to give them something to play for.
Cumbria launched a new competition this season to run alongside the BARLA Cumbria Cup, which is the Cumbria Shield for the CARL and Barrow & District clubs. The draw is regionalised to the semi-final, and the draw is rigged so only one side travels from each side of the county to minimise travel costs ie: semi 1: Barrow v West Cumbria / Semi 2: West Cumbria v Barrow.
Obviously you could still end up with an all-barrow or all-west cumbrian final, but it does give clubs the chance to play against new opposition without the worry of incurring big travel costs if drawn away in every round. All the clubs have entered as well (first time ever probably)
One other thing that you probably aren't aware of in regard to the Men's Comp is that for the West Cumbrian clubs, the league management blocked booked the coaches for the season for the trips to Barrow in order to get the best price possible. The local clubs pay a lump sum into the league in 2 or 3 advance payments and the league pay the bus bills centrally. Gilly will know the costs, but I don't think it was very much.
The purpose of this was to stop the scenario experienced in the NWC league when clubs opted not to travel to Barrow rather than pay £350-450 hire for a bus, so if a side didn't travel in the Cumbria Men's there is no financial saving as they had already paid in advance for the coach.
Edited by Death to the Rah Rah's, 02 July 2013 - 07:58 AM.