Memorandum submitted by the British Amateur Rugby League Association
1.1 The British Amateur Rugby League Association was born out of necessity to avert the demise of amateur Rugby League, and has been the catalyst for a dramatic increase in amateur teams from 150 teams in 1973 to over 1,350 today, representing approximately 35,000 players from the under-8 age group through to the open age.
1.2 There are mixed teams of boys and girls up to the under-11 age group and single sex teams at junior, youth and open age levels thereafter.
1.3 Whilst the development of the women and girl's game is still at an embryonic stage the progress made is impressive and an area of huge potential for future development .
1.4 Whilst the youth and junior game continues to go from strength to strength with an increase of over 30 per cent in the last seven years there has been a marked decline in open age teams which is to be the subject of a review by the Association.
1.5 The amateur game is the proven nursery of Rugby League talent and produces the overwhelming majority of players for the professional game.
1.6 In many cases with a lack of adequate facilities, the amateur game provides a remarkable service to the local community and to the game itself, a service even more crucial in areas of urban stress and deprivation in which many of our clubs operate.
1.7 Through exemplary voluntary effort the clubs successfully provide local sporting opportunities in particular invaluable opportunities for local youngsters to play a sport that promotes fitness, skill, discipline and a healthy lifestyle.
1.8 The contribution to the game of the volunteer army cannot be overestimated. Figures taken from a Sport England report show in excess of 15,000 volunteers in Rugby League equivalent to an investment of over £21 million per annum based on voluntary hours worked.
1.9 Relationships with the professional game underwent a renaissance in October 1997 when BARLA and the Rugby Football League (RFL) signed a 12-month Partnership Agreement. The motivation behind the agreement was the commitment to a game-wide development strategy under the auspices of a joint BARLA/RFL body, the Rugby League Policy Board.
1.10 The agreement, which has been recently superseded by a further five year agreement, has brought to an end years of duplication and wasted resources that the game could ill afford.
1.11 The Policy Board which includes representatives from BARLA, RFL, Super League and the Premiership Clubs has made rapid strides in identifying common services, a fine example being the establishment of a single Coach Education Programme, where previously there had been two schemes independently run by BARLA and RFL respectively.
1.12 The Policy Board Development Strategy will facilitate an infrastructure based on performance and mass participation that will give the game the opportunity to realise its full potential, an opportunity never previously afforded due to the inconsistent relations between BARLA and the RFL.
1.13 Other areas of common interest include: the establishment of a single player development model which will demonstrate to every youngster coming into the game a clear pathway of progression and the opportunities that are available to him/her; a match official development programme to address the recruitment, retention and performance of match officials and the establishment of a facilities development strategy for the game.
1.14 Another major initiative under the auspices of the Policy Board has been the formation of a BARLA/RFL joint international youth team, the Great Britain and Ireland Young Lions which has recently completed a two Test series against France. The initiative will also ensure the strongest possible team will be fielded against the World Youth Champions the Australian Schoolboys when they visit these shores in December 1999.
1.15 Club-school liaison is at the heart of amateur club development with school children, boys and girls, from primary and secondary schools, feeding into the club prompted by in-school coaching by club coaches.
1.16 The Policy Board Development Strategy will aid the process of promoting participation in Rugby League by way of provision of support structures, which will assist amateur clubs in enhancing and sustaining links with schools.
1.17 The Development Strategy will also be the catalyst for more Rugby League being played in schools with the localised strategy also addressing issues of talent identification, coach education, match official development and facility development.
1.18 From a financial point of view, prior to the Partnership Agreement and the establishment of the Rugby League Policy Board, the Rugby Football League had never actually made any direct payment to BARLA for the specific running costs of the Association's administration. The Rugby Football League had previously funded posts applicable to both the Amateur and Professional game, such as the Director of Coaching and National Development officer, but had never contributed directly to the running costs of the Association's work programmes.
1.19 BARLA's income has been derived in the main from Sport England exchequer funding, affiliation fees and sponsorship.
1.20 This situation changed with the onset of the Rugby League Policy Board, and in the first BARLA financial year of the Partnership Agreement the financial year commencing 1 April 1998 the RFL kindly donated a grant of £30,000 toward the work programmes of BARLA and it is hoped that this arrangement will continue into the future.
1.21 In the light of Policy Board work, in particular the establishment of common services, the Association had to reappraise its primary functions and has placed a major emphasis on enhancing the support services to member clubs and leagues.
1.22 It is recognised that the RFL are currently investing heavily in a variety of grass roots projects including the National Conference League, the BARLA open age flagship league. It is also recognised that the Rugby Football League is making a major financial investment in the work of the Policy Board as a compliment to the Sport England exchequer funding secured by the Policy Board. Furthermore professional clubs invest in their own grass roots initiatives.
1.23 Another tangible financial benefit to the grass roots game promoted by the Policy Board has been a major increase in the player compensation fee payable by a professional club to the respective amateur club when a player signs a professional contract. The fee previously a flat rate of £50 has been increased to £500 and £250 for Super League and Premiership Clubs respectively.
1.24 It is intended that the Policy Board will in future assume funding responsibilities with regard to grass roots initiatives conducted under the auspices of the Board. This will include the allocation of grass roots funding currently conducted by the RFL.
1.25 BARLA feel strongly that any future deals negotiated by the professional game with regard to broadcasting and sponsorship agreements should include a percentage, set aside for grass roots development with the monies to be channelled for distribution by the Rugby League Policy Board.
1.26 BARLA's international programme has included 31 Tours to and from the Southern Hemisphere since 1973 including tours to Tonga, Fiji, Western Samoa, Australia, including a series against all-Aboriginal teams, South Africa, and Russia. BARLA's pioneering work has recently been recognised by Affiliate Membership of the newly formed Rugby League International Federation.
1.27 BARLA players and officials on outgoing tours are required to pay a contribution of up to £1,200, funds, which in the main are raised by BARLA clubs. Tours have also been part funded by Sport England, which does not currently apply due to other areas of the BARLA Development Plan being prioritised. Furthermore international players are required to purchase their playing strip and other items of clothing.
1.28 It is the hope of BARLA that this international pioneering role is recognised by way of appropriate funding from the levies of the International Federation.
1.29 The one concern for BARLA is the existence of an independent administration at Super League level, which appears to be superfluous to requirements. It appears to BARLA that the administrative services provided by Super League could be adequately absorbed by the RFL and it seems when monies are in short supply it is a duplication the game can ill afford, particularly at a time when BARLA and the RFL have rationalised their resources in pursuit of a common streamlined strategy.
1.30 In conclusion relationships between the two codes at grass roots level are cordial evidenced by many examples of Rugby Union Clubs hosting major BARLA games at local and national level together with an ever-increasing inter-change of players.
Interesting reading from nearly 15 years ago...................
Edited by LordCharles, 23 February 2014 - 06:57 PM.