Love it or hate it, dual registration has now been a feature of Rugby League for several seasons.
Designed initially to give rising Super League stars some regular game time at lower league clubs ahead of them making the step up to the first team, it has proved invaluable to a number of players, whose development in the game has definitely been aided by the initiative.
However with some clubs also using it as a way to get seasoned Super League professionals back up to full match fitness after injury, it has had it’s fair share of criticism over the years too.
But, with a Reserves team now becoming mandatory for Super League clubs, fewer and fewer clubs are signing up to partnerships for 2020 as they can now use their own teams to give their fringe and returning players valuable game time.
That hasn’t meant the end of dual registration though as the idea is now filtering down through the game and could now even pluck the next big thing straight out of the amateur game.
Instead of filling gaps caused by injury and unavailability with players from the Championship or Super League, as they have in the past, new rules allow League 1 clubs to dual register up to 10 players from the amateur game.
It is a system newly relegated Barrow Raiders are keen to take full advantage off and coach Paul Crarey is confident it can be a successful experience for both his club and the players who are likely to get a taste of the semi-professional lifestyle.
“We currently have 10 amateur players, with BARLA experience, training with us through the new dual registration rules,” said Crarey.
“It seems to be working for us in this area and we’re really pleased with how this system is working for us. It’s a good process for us to be able to use.
“They are all high-quality players and some have been offered contracts with other Cumbrian clubs but they don’t necessarily want to do the travelling and they want to take their opportunity with us.
“We will play all those guys in our pre-season games and take a look at them.
“But they will still be registered with their local clubs, and when we need them during the year they will come in and hopefully earn themselves a contract for a future season.
“We did the same with Luke Cresswell. It took him a year of being in and out of our squad as a trialist to get himself a contract, and now he finished last season as our Player of the Year. We did something similar with Charlie Emslie, who’s with us. He is in our Academy set up and played in all our friendlies last year. He’ll be brought in again this year and he’s progressing really nicely.
“He’s been asked to go and train with another professional club but he’s sticking with us because we understand his game and we’re developing.
“We’re pretty proud he wants to stay with us and do that, and the guys on dual registration will get the same chance to develop as well.
“They are all great kids but it comes down to whether or not they want the full commitment of being a professional rugby player – and they’ll get a taste of that with us. They’ll see it’s not like at amateur level where if you don’t go to training you still get picked to play anyway.
“They are coming into a professional environment, training is a lot tougher and very intense, but every one of them has been brilliant.”