Posted 25 July 2013 - 06:22 PM
There was talk a few years back about a semi pro club starting in the South West with either Cornwall, Exeter or Bristol as a home. Nothing came of it, though the Gloucestershire All Golds did make the step into the semi pro ranks ( stretching the idea of the South West quite a bit) but there was support from many rugby supporters in Cornwall as it would add extra weight to their plans for a Stadium For Cornwall in Truro which would have been used by Cornish Pirates (union), Truro City (football) and the possible league club.
Nothing came of the league club and plans for the ground have been put on hold due to finances, particularly from the Cornish council.
The Rebels, along with all the clubs in the South West get no financial support from the RFL other than free RFL insurance as a new club in their first season. The Rebels do get to use the county kit which was paid for by the Cornwall County Association thereby saving the cost of buying shirts. Along with other non heartland areas there is no dedicated development officer / manager for the region and the SWRL is administered by a committee of one member per club and Ant Atherton, who is also responsible for the Cumbrian region. To be fair, Ant is visiting the region this week to keep in touch.
Whilst the Rebels are currently a success story the rest of the league seems to be in a steady decline. The 2007 Cup final drew a crowd of 500 odd and Boots n All to film it at Exmouth's National League RU ground, the SW Cup final last Saturday struggled to attract three figures and was played in a field behind Launceston RFC's ground. Plymouth, Exeter, Somerset and North Devon have each failed to raise a side for games this season and, whilst Devon Sharks have performed on the field, despite optimistic plans, they have the worst facilities in the league with dilapidated changing rooms and a below standard pitch to play on.
With the RFL's stated plan for the future of not actively seeking new clubs but retaining the players at the clubs we already have the future is far from rosy for League in the far South West.
There are no junior teams or indeed plans for juniors in Devon following the loss of the SW Regional Manager and Community Coach who worked at getting local schools to take up the game. All that, however small, has been lost and there seems to be a drop in interest in playing League, which, along with the rise of Union 7s in the summer months is making the recruitment and retention of players difficult.