15000 of rugby league's decline happened in winter incidentally; 10000 in summer. So the issue is apart from the playing season.
Isn't a good picture at all though, think the loss of development funding has been a killer though.
Personally I think the professional academies need to be either play a full season or none and also under 18s and under 17s need to merge so that there's 2 years of players and less disruption caused by players leaving education. The game needs fewer, stronger clubs with multiple teams and where possible this needs to be combined with lower travel costs. Obviously development areas and village teams this isn't possible in. I also think the distinction between the professional and amateur game needs ending, there's no reason why West Hull couldn't be in a league with Gateshead Thunder. Most crucially all clubs need to be playing in one season with one governing body to stop players burning out trying to play 2 overlapping seasons and to stop petty disputes.
And why do you think have they gone in to the NCL, rather than in to their respective regional leagues?
Either they were already playing nationally in the summer, they were doing well in their regional division and fancied a step up or in the case of Peterlee found their local league not enough for them or in the case of Blackbrook and Appleton didn't want to be left behind in a weaker division. Wigan St Cuthberts misjudged the step up. Pilkington Recs, Kells, Blackbrook and Underbank were a match for almost anyone and all bar Peterlee and Wigan St Cuthberts were better than at least some of the existing clubs.
I guess we're the only sport where the thoughts of the amateur game even occur to people as people would laugh if a village team wanted to stop Manchester United running an academy side. That said scholarship is run in a very damaging matter and a whole game solution is needed, but not a ra ra BARLA did it this way knee jerk approach either.
Fewer academies but them having a full season to not interfere with the community game. Having said that would it be so bad if say Keighley ran a team in Yorkshire Youth? It's how other sports do things.
I think the last 2 weeks in July plus August were always a problem in the RLC but they coincided with the last 3 weeks of the season (when struggling clubs gave up) and the national playoffs (which were always a disaster for the lower divisions due to unreasonable travel burdens at that level). Bigger clubs never had a problem in these months. Never been a problem in June or the first half of July. The tricky issue is any mid summer break harm's momentum and you'd face the same issue in winter. I don't know the answer but know the further disruption of switching back to an equally struggling winter season wouldn't solve anything plus the game should be lined up with the pro game, NCL and juniors. A short break last 2 weeks of July may be an idea plus a week off for August bank holiday.
I'd say play those months but play 2 seasons a year at juniors so you can reshuffle when teams are too strong etc. Open age March to October works, the worst months are when the winter and summer season overlap rather than summer
In short North Herts are significantly better than Bedford, who are one of the weaker sides in east premier. They'd be one of the first sides you'd ask to step up and they have reserves and juniors. St Ives are decent on the field though they're a one team club so unsure if they'd manage travelling
I'd have North Herts in ahead of Elmbridge (who aren't the side they were) but think the rough format is probably a goer. Doubt clubs are ready for 18 games so you could probably have sides play each other once as a division then once in a 6-4 split? Giving 14 games at the top at 12 at the bottom.
Even though it's a shame they had to do it I think it's good Staines admitted they'd made a mistake. I've known clubs insist they can stay in the league and endlessly mess everyone around calling off games and show no remorse for it. Be interesting to see how next season goes as on the face of it North Herts Crusaders should be team 6 (on field I'd say St Ives but North Herts have better strength of club) but I also think the overall structure needs looking at to decide if this is the best model.
Look at the Pennine league table and see how many games were called off or clubs dropping out. West of the Pennines the situation is different as most of the small clubs are in places like Blackpool, Chester and Bolton. Though for the record I think the problem with the Pennine league is players are trying to play 2 overlapping seasons to make up for the fact there aren't enough players. Lots of small clubs have moved to a short summer season to try to survive but I think players playing 2 seasons has a limited shelf life.
We can't wave a magic wand and magic up more players so we need to get the most workable structure for development.