Five expansion teams that could become a potential Super League side

IN the past, expansion has often failed to work.

There have often been a number of very good reasons for that – whether that be financial problems, locality or environment issues.

For example, the Toronto Wolfpack withdrew from Super League in 2020 citing the fact that they could not play any home games in Canada due to the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst Crusaders entered liquidation in 2011.

Taking that into consideration, French sides Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique have been great successes, but is the south of France really an expansion? It is already very much a rugby league heartland.

Being an expansion side is about taking the sport somewhere new. With that in mind, which five potential expansion teams could be a future Super League club in the future?

North Wales Crusaders

Yes, we have been here before. That being said, Crusaders RL actually made the Super League play-offs in 2010, it was just a catastrophic mess off the field. The North Wales Crusaders at present, however, are a stable League One side on and off the field and made the the third tier play-offs last season. With a potential aim for a Super League side in a decade, putting in plans and structures to make that possible wouldn’t be too far-fetched. There is an appetite for rugby league in Wales – and in the north in particular – it’s about tapping into that and finally making a Welsh first division side a success.

Midlands Hurricanes

At present, like the North Wales Crusaders, Midlands Hurricanes are in League One. A lot of improvement will have to be made on the field before any consideration would be made about potentially reaching the top echelons, but the basis of the Midlands club has been there since 1998 when it was formerly the Coventry Bears. Being just outside the M62 corridor but far enough to be considered an expansion club is perhaps the best idea from which to grow whilst the Hurricanes are doing great work in the community in trying to spread the sport. Staging a World Cup game at the Coventry Building Society Arena between Australia and Scotland also proved the appetite was there as over 10,000 flocked to the venue.

London Broncos

IMG have already set their stall out in trying to build a strong base in London following the World Cup. The new shareholders were buoyed by the interest in ticket sales and subscriptions from the capital, it’s just about honing that interest to become consistent fans of the London Broncos – a club that has been in Super League before and knows what it takes to survive. In David Hughes, the Broncos have one of the most loyal and supportive owners in the game, but the key has always been how to spread rugby league in London. Could IMG finally solve that issue?

Newcastle Thunder

Rugby union tried and succeeded at bringing the 15-man code to the north east with the Newcastle Falcons, now it’s rugby league’s turn to try and do the same with the Thunder. The appetite in the north east is growing with each passing week, with crowds impressing at Kingston Park throughout 2022. Unfortunately, the product on the field wasn’t as impressive as people first thought it might have been, but the foundations for a solid future Super League club are definitely there. The facilities are first-rate and with a confident owner, Newcastle have slowly set the ball rolling.

Dublin City Exiles

The club by far the furthest away from any potential Super League slot is the Dublin City Exiles. To even be considered, the Irish side would need to first make it into the League One competition in the UK and build up from there. Rugby league is growing around Dublin, though, and the Exiles will take part in the Challenge Cup competition in 2023 for the first time in two decades. Formed in 2000 by a number of Australian ex-pats in Ireland, the Exiles are the only side currently residing in the capital and they even have a reserves side. One for the future perhaps?