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League Restructure Thread (Merged Threads)


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3 hours ago, Scubby said:

Have you even read it? Do you understand it?

@Dave T has been off the board today, we are avoiding work in his honour!

I'm on annual leave, so I don't really bother on here and spend time with my family (people I like) instead ūü§£

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15 minutes ago, DOGFATHER said:

There is that "potential" word again. 

Of the club's with "potential" that have joined the RFL family in the last 30 years or so, how many have been successful in turning that "potential" into reality?

Sheffield, London, Gateshead, Paris, Toronto, Celtic Crusaders, Scarborough, Mansfield, Coventry, Hemel, Gloucester, Bridgend, Kent all spring to mind as having unfulfilled potential. 

I'm sure you will have an excuse as to why each tried, and subsequently failed. Whatever the reason, is immaterial. The fact is none of them have made it.

The reasons aren't immaterial and it doesn't mean that some of these didn't have potential. It's also a little disingenuous to list every club you can think of, some little better than amateur, and make out that people thought they had potential. I think only 1 of these actually owned their own home and I don't think people expected much from over half those clubs.

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1 minute ago, Damien said:

The reasons aren't immaterial and it doesn't mean that some of these didn't have potential. It's also a little disingenuous to list every club you can think of, some little better than amateur, and make out that people thought they had potential. I think only 1 of these actually owned their own home and I don't think people expected much from over half those clubs.

Surely, quite a few people thought they had/have potential, otherwise why form in the first place? Do York, Newcastle, London or Toulouse own their own ground?

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56 minutes ago, JonM said:

I think it's an interesting idea, and certainly wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. I think there are some good features - the 'whole game' aspect, the removal of the cliff-edge between full-time superleague and part-time championship, the varied fixture list and so on. I think plenty of similar sports to us operate with a conference or pool system, really don't see any issue with people understanding how it works. I like that it gives more clubs the chance to win something, and with suitable scheduling, a big tv game every week (it's not just two random SL clubs playing, it's first vs second in the Billy Boston conference or whatever). I think it needs a system where the conferences can be of unequal sizes -  the 'three countries' conference is pretty unconvincing, and I would tend towards not using geographic names. The conference make-up needs more thought too - why would you split up Saints & Wigan, or Leeds & Bradford? 

French RU operated with something not entirely different, before the advent of the Top14 and the Pro D2 - at one point, there were 64 clubs in the top league, organised in 8 pools of 8. Their Federale system is still in regional pools, and is complicated: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fédérale_1

The drawbacks are obvious. One of the problems of modern RL is that results are too predictable. Saints can play Whitehaven, Workington, Barrow & Widnes 8 times and there will pretty much never be a surprise result, unlike football where an occasional upset is possible. I don't see those games as being particularly attractive to fans, tv or sponsors. Nor do I see any 'levelling up' happening very quickly. Not convinced that having our top players play approx a third of their games against a significantly lower standard of opposition helps the England team.

Martyn - how do you envisage academies and the loan/dual reg system working with this setup? Dual reg only to clubs in other conferences? 

There may be some one-sided games between teams in the same Conference initially, but I don't think that would last for long.

And, crucially, those games would not be the ones shown on TV.

The truth is that Saints and Warrington travelling to the Cumbrian clubs could really generate additional interest in Cumbria and those games could be celebrations of top-class Rugby League returning to a region that has all too often been overlooked by the rest of the game. That would no longer be true and I'm certain that the Cumbrian clubs would improve significantly on the back of that.

I would encourage all clubs at all levels to run Academies and to take responsibility for developing junior talent through community clubs in their areas.

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34 minutes ago, DOGFATHER said:

There is that "potential" word again. 

Of the club's with "potential" that have joined the RFL family in the last 30 years or so, how many have been successful in turning that "potential" into reality?

Sheffield, London, Gateshead, Paris, Toronto, Celtic Crusaders, Scarborough, Mansfield, Coventry, Hemel, Gloucester, Bridgend, Kent all spring to mind as having unfulfilled potential. 

I'm sure you will have an excuse as to why each tried, and subsequently failed. Whatever the reason, is immaterial. The fact is none of them have made it.

FYI, York have existed in various guises for around 100 years, but somehow, now you seem to think they will be another Wigan or Leeds, even though during the 100 years they have been around, they haven't been. Just 5 short years ago they were on the verge of bankruptcy. Would you have still been advocating a SL place back then?

(YORK FANS:- This is not a pop at your club, I happen to like them as a club).

I'm just trying to point out, there needs to be more than potential alone.  

The only club I can think of, as fulfilling any sort of the potential they promised, is Catalan. That is pretty overwhelming evidence that potential is infrequently realised. 

The fact is, nobody knows what the future is. 

Backing the future of the game on potential alone, seems a far bigger gamble than Martyn's proposal.

Almost all of the club's outside SL have survived, despite knowing the majority of the last 25 years we have had absolutely no prospect of ever getting in to the top division, regardless of how successful we have been, or how badly the club's above have been run.

The game needs to remove the glass ceiling and let all teams reach their potential. If we don't, and we follow this misguided belief that the game needs to be ruthless, there won't be a game at all in 5 years. That approach has only one outcome, extinction. Less participants, talent, quality and ultimately less money in the game, until even the last 10 remaining will be out of business. How do you know the rest of the club's you are advocating just be cast aside are not tomorrow's York, Toulouse or Newcastle?

Bring the credibility back!

You make some good points that everyone should take on board.

I would just add that the reason the Catalans were able to realise at least some of their potential was because they were exempted from relegation for three years. If they had been relegated in year one, I think it would have been the same story as with all the other clubs you mention.

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5 hours ago, Martyn Sadler said:

I'd be interested to know why you think that, and whether it reflects direct experience of investors looking at alternative sports.

For the simple reason that whether we're talking about a league of the top dozen or so clubs, your idea one league of all the clubs organized into geographic divisions or some other structure, structure is not the issue.  Lack of money in the game is the issue, and no structure is a magic cure for that.  The structure has changed plenty of times over the years, but none of those changes produced a solution to the lack of money in the game because they didn't address the root cause of the problem.

As Sean McGuire stated in his appearances on Tony Collins' podcasts, the reason for the lack of money in the game is the location of its clubs.  With the possible exception of Leeds, the traditional clubs are all in what McGuire called "smallish, economically disadvantaged towns" up north where the required money simply doesn't exist and therefore those clubs have no access to it.  No change of structure is going to change that reality, your concept included.

Not only is the money nowhere to be found in those smallish towns, that isn't about to change either because the men with the money haven't shown much interest in investing in such places.  That's why when clubs are put up for sale they're invariably sold to someone local who feels some affinity to the club.

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2 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

There may be some one-sided games between teams in the same Conference initially, but I don't think that would last for long.

And, crucially, those games would not be the ones shown on TV.

The truth is that Saints and Warrington travelling to the Cumbrian clubs could really generate additional interest in Cumbria and those games could be celebrations of top-class Rugby League returning to a region that has all too often been overlooked by the rest of the game. That would no longer be true and I'm certain that the Cumbrian clubs would improve significantly on the back of that.

I would encourage all clubs at all levels to run Academies and to take responsibility for developing junior talent through community clubs in their areas.

Why do you think one-sided games wouldn't last very long? None of these structure changes do anything to increase the talent pool, so where do the likes of the Cumbrian teams you mention get a load more international quality players to put them on a par with Saints and Warrington any time soon?

I've no doubt that having Saints and Warrington rocking up at Whitehaven a couple of times a season would give Whitehaven a boost but where's the attraction for existing Saints and Warrington supporters?

The prospect of Saints playing so many games against part-timers would be enough for me to stop going without a reduction in cost to reflect the reduction in quality on show. That would also be reflected in the behaviour of other supporters, sponsors, hospitality etc as we already see for cup games against such teams so what happens then? Saints reduce costs, employ fewer stars and lo and behold the race to the bottom has begun.

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45 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

That would be bizarre!

In fact the clubs didn't pick and choose their opponents. I'm not sure why you think they did.

It wasn't all fixtures, the top 15 played each other, they then had the freedom to choose fixtures against 3 other clubs outside the 15. Clubs effectively could choose fixtures that would give them the best gate or the best result.

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22 minutes ago, Moove said:

Why do you think one-sided games wouldn't last very long? None of these structure changes do anything to increase the talent pool, so where do the likes of the Cumbrian teams you mention get a load more international quality players to put them on a par with Saints and Warrington any time soon?

I've no doubt that having Saints and Warrington rocking up at Whitehaven a couple of times a season would give Whitehaven a boost but where's the attraction for existing Saints and Warrington supporters?

The prospect of Saints playing so many games against part-timers would be enough for me to stop going without a reduction in cost to reflect the reduction in quality on show. That would also be reflected in the behaviour of other supporters, sponsors, hospitality etc as we already see for cup games against such teams so what happens then? Saints reduce costs, employ fewer stars and lo and behold the race to the bottom has begun.

One sided games are inevitable. The Leeds, Wigan, Saints of this world have so many built in advantages that even equal funding would not overcome. They are simply far bigger than other clubs in the game in every way, have strong academies and strong amateur scenes. This will not change.

As for £1.25 million v £800k for team 3 or £80k for team 6 not a chance. Even today in Super League we have far bigger clubs than some League 1 clubs could ever hope to be that can't compete even with equal funding. We still have clubs that can't have reserves or run academies with £1.8 million in funding. They have had 20+ years to do so and still can't close the gap. Under this proposal the gap will be far bigger than what we see today in Super League and with tiered funding the big clubs get bigger and the weaker ones get weaker.

Edited by Damien
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51 minutes ago, DOGFATHER said:

How many were anywhere near a 10k avg. pre-SL?

You are basing your assumptions on recent history in a closed shop environment, with no possibility of progression. Pre SL Keighley's were higher than many club's in Div 1. Who is to say what they are capable of? 

How many Liverpool fans live in the city? How many Leeds fans have a LS postcode, believe it or not people travel. 

I have studied attendances going back years before SL, this is not based on SL.

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Radio 5 Live: Saturday 14 April 2007

Dave Whelan "In Wigan rugby will always be king"

 

This country's wealth was created by men in overalls, it was destroyed by men in suits.

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8 minutes ago, Damien said:

One sided games are inevitable. The Leeds, Wigan, Saints of this world have so many built in advantages that even equal funding would not overcome. They are simply far bigger than other clubs in the game in every way, have strong academies and strong amateur scenes. This will not change.

As for £1.25 million v £800k for team 3 or £80k for team 6 not a chance. Even today in Super League we have far bigger clubs than some League 1 clubs could ever hope to be that can't compete even with equal funding. We still have clubs that can't have reserves or run academies with £1.8 million in funding. They have had 20+ years to do so and still can't close the gap. Under this proposal the gap will be far bigger than what we see today in Super League and with tiered funding the big clubs get bigger and the weaker ones get weaker.

Plenty will go out of business trying to compete. Swinton is a tiny stadium-less town of 15k and Whitehaven 20k and remote. Where is this wonder wealth and playing strength coming from?

I can't believe I'm even justifying a rebuff. It's the equivalent of Rangers and Celtic collaborating with Gretna Green and Cowdenbeath to grow the Scottish game's wealth.

Edited by Scubby
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23 minutes ago, Padge said:

I have studied attendances going back years before SL, this is not based on SL.

Good for you Padge, so you will already know that Keighley's attendances pre summer rugby, when compared to Goliath's like Warrington and St Helens' were not hugely different, a couple of hundred or so in them.

If you need a reference, get hold of the Rothman's year books from the last couple of years prior to SL. 

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3 minutes ago, DOGFATHER said:

Good for you Padge, so you will already know that Keighley's attendances pre summer rugby, when compared to Goliath's like Warrington and St Helens' were not hugely different a couple of hundred or so in them.

If you need a reference get hold of the Rothman's year books from the last couple of years prior to SL. 

I have every one of the Rothman's year books.

Edited by Padge

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Radio 5 Live: Saturday 14 April 2007

Dave Whelan "In Wigan rugby will always be king"

 

This country's wealth was created by men in overalls, it was destroyed by men in suits.

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4 hours ago, Martyn Sadler said:

I remarked earlier that this was the most valid point made in response to my proposal.

How do you transition from one system to another without damaging the essence of what you have?

I've thought about this since giving an initial response.

This is what I would suggest to overcome that problem.

We know that the next Sky contract will run for two years from 2022 to 2023. The competition structure could and probably will remain in its current form in those years.

So the first opportunity for change will be in 2024.

If I ran the RFL I would put my system out immediately to be considered by both broadcasters and potential investors, three years ahead of the earliest time at which it might be implemented.

I would go into great detail, with a full potential fixture list and season timetable, explain it to them in terms of its impact on their business and let them digest it and then react to it.

The advantage of that would be that:

1 The RFL would be planning in advance before deciding to introduce a new structure, which it rarely does.

2 There would be no firm commitment to adopting this structure if it is rejected by the organisations it approaches.

3 The RFL could also put forward alternative proposals to test their strengths and weaknesses, both against the status quo and against what I'm proposing.

4 We would have the time to prepare a marketing campaign for the new structure to get it off on the front foot, although perhaps I am being over-optimistic on that score.

But I'm not going to hold my breath.

Thanks for response... if nothing else it causes discussion. That is whatever our personal views we all want rugby league to be financial sustainable for the long term.

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4 hours ago, Martyn Sadler said:

As we've seen with the Hundred, the ultimate arbiter of how valuable a sport is tends to be the effectiveness of its marketing strategy.

There's little point in having a game played at a very high standard if we don't know how to market it.

The problem is, any marketing strategy depends on there first being something marketable.  RL's problem is that being locked into a bunch of smallish economically disadvantaged towns in northern England it doesn't have that.  Most Brits have never even heard of those towns and most of the remainder who have don't rate them as places where big time pro sport would be played, so consequently they are not marketable.

That's the issue which needs to be solved, and no structure can solve it.

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7 minutes ago, Big Picture said:

The problem is, any marketing strategy depends on there first being something marketable.  RL's problem is that being locked into a bunch of smallish economically disadvantaged towns in northern England it doesn't have that.  Most Brits have never even heard of those towns and most of the remainder who have don't rate them as places where big time pro sport would be played, so consequently they are not marketable.

That's the issue which needs to be solved, and no structure can solve it.

Maybe but a large area around those clubs will have, most people in Liverpool or Manchester, or Sheffield etc etc will know those towns.

I am not saying they are interested in the sport but they will know the towns. 

A good marketing organisation would help in identifying the barriers and opportunities from those close by cities or bigger towns.

We have what we have as the starting point. I don't follow rugby union but I know where the premiership clubs are even if they have non location names, e.g saracens, etc.

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1 hour ago, Big Picture said:

For the simple reason that whether we're talking about a league of the top dozen or so clubs, your idea one league of all the clubs organized into geographic divisions or some other structure, structure is not the issue.  Lack of money in the game is the issue, and no structure is a magic cure for that.  The structure has changed plenty of times over the years, but none of those changes produced a solution to the lack of money in the game because they didn't address the root cause of the problem.

As Sean McGuire stated in his appearances on Tony Collins' podcasts, the reason for the lack of money in the game is the location of its clubs.  With the possible exception of Leeds, the traditional clubs are all in what McGuire called "smallish, economically disadvantaged towns" up north where the required money simply doesn't exist and therefore those clubs have no access to it.  No change of structure is going to change that reality, your concept included.

Not only is the money nowhere to be found in those smallish towns, that isn't about to change either because the men with the money haven't shown much interest in investing in such places.  That's why when clubs are put up for sale they're invariably sold to someone local who feels some affinity to the club.

We are in the final year of a TV contract bringing in £40 million per year, which in the modern world isn't a vast amount of money, but it's much more in real terms than the game has enjoyed throughout its history.

The real problem with the game is its inability to sell itself.

In fact I would go further and say that too many people within the game have historically not really been interested in expanding its audience.

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4 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

We are in the final year of a TV contract bringing in £40 million per year, which in the modern world isn't a vast amount of money, but it's much more in real terms than the game has enjoyed throughout its history.

The real problem with the game is its inability to sell itself.

In fact I would go further and say that too many people within the game have historically not really been interested in expanding its audience.

The real problem may be that the game itself isn't what enough people like to watch...

Even though I attend virtually every week a game it doest really excite often... just imagine only getting a glimpse and that has to persuade people to followup...

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1 hour ago, Moove said:

Why do you think one-sided games wouldn't last very long? None of these structure changes do anything to increase the talent pool, so where do the likes of the Cumbrian teams you mention get a load more international quality players to put them on a par with Saints and Warrington any time soon?

I've no doubt that having Saints and Warrington rocking up at Whitehaven a couple of times a season would give Whitehaven a boost but where's the attraction for existing Saints and Warrington supporters?

The prospect of Saints playing so many games against part-timers would be enough for me to stop going without a reduction in cost to reflect the reduction in quality on show. That would also be reflected in the behaviour of other supporters, sponsors, hospitality etc as we already see for cup games against such teams so what happens then? Saints reduce costs, employ fewer stars and lo and behold the race to the bottom has begun.

I'm tempted to say that perhaps Saints and Warrington should play each other ten times a season in that case.

Workington and Whitehaven used to be perfectly capable of competing with St Helens at one time, but the split into two divisions effectively brought that to an end.

Your post will reflect the mindset of some supporters, there's no doubt about that, but that reflects the fact that the game's current marketing strategy, if it has one at all, is largely based on having a winning team. And, as we have seen over the last 26 years, fewer and fewer teams actually end up winning trophies.

That is a tragedy for the game.

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1 hour ago, Padge said:

It wasn't all fixtures, the top 15 played each other, they then had the freedom to choose fixtures against 3 other clubs outside the 15. Clubs effectively could choose fixtures that would give them the best gate or the best result.

I don't think so.

The top team in each League (Yorkshire and Lancashire) would play the top three teams in the other league.

Team 2 in each league would play teams 1, 2 and 4

Team 3 would play teams 1, 3 and 5, and so on.

One reason why crowds were very high for inter-county games was because the visits from the top teams on the other side of the Pennines were relatively rare. They had a scarcity value then that they no longer have.

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38 minutes ago, Big Picture said:

The problem is, any marketing strategy depends on there first being something marketable.  RL's problem is that being locked into a bunch of smallish economically disadvantaged towns in northern England it doesn't have that.  Most Brits have never even heard of those towns and most of the remainder who have don't rate them as places where big time pro sport would be played, so consequently they are not marketable.

That's the issue which needs to be solved, and no structure can solve it.

That's remarkably defeatist.

If it's true we may as well all pack up and stay in bed all day.

I disagree with you strongly, although I do accept that Rugby League has never been a fashionable sport for a considerable number of British people.

I think we should be far more aggressive in promoting what Rugby League has to offer.

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13 minutes ago, redjonn said:

The real problem may be that the game itself isn't what enough people like to watch...

Even though I attend virtually every week a game it doest really excite often... just imagine only getting a glimpse and that has to persuade people to followup...

That brings us onto the idea of what makes a sport exciting, which is a massive subject to consider.

For example, I've tried to watch football in the last 12 months or so, but I find it so boring that I just can't get beyond half-time, and the most boring matches are those involving the biggest teams.

I've tried to watch some of The Hundred, but again can't last more than an hour, while admiring the marketing effort that has attracted all those people to sit through those matches.

If you tried to get me to watch a Formula 1 Grand Prix race, I'd pay you £500 to avoid having to sit through it, while recognising that some people love it.

Who do you support?

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36 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

We are in the final year of a TV contract bringing in £40 million per year, which in the modern world isn't a vast amount of money, but it's much more in real terms than the game has enjoyed throughout its history.

The real problem with the game is its inability to sell itself.

In fact I would go further and say that too many people within the game have historically not really been interested in expanding its audience.

Yes that was much more than the game had before, but as in the past when it couldn't deliver comparable for Sky it was then knocked back down to earth.  Meanwhile RU got away with just a modest reduction in their new contract with BT Sport.

I agree that many within the game have never been too interested in expansion, things like the rejection of Glasgow back in the 1950s over concern about how much it would cost the established to travel there once a season are proof of that.

15 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

That's remarkably defeatist.

If it's true we may as well all pack up and stay in bed all day.

I disagree with you strongly, although I do accept that Rugby League has never been a fashionable sport for a considerable number of British people.

I think we should be far more aggressive in promoting what Rugby League has to offer.

I suggest that it is true though and that's what explains the reduced interest in the game among the younger generation even in its heartland.  What it has to offer in its present form doesn't measure up in the modern era where only big events can attract the interest of them and their peers who've grown up with intercontinental competitions like the Champions League and Europa League.

Seeing that you accept that RL has never been a fashionable sport in Britain, given that it would have to become more fashionable (and likely a lot more fashionable) to increase its audience and income, just how would you suggest that it go about doing so?

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44 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

I'm tempted to say that perhaps Saints and Warrington should play each other ten times a season in that case.

Workington and Whitehaven used to be perfectly capable of competing with St Helens at one time, but the split into two divisions effectively brought that to an end.

Your post will reflect the mindset of some supporters, there's no doubt about that, but that reflects the fact that the game's current marketing strategy, if it has one at all, is largely based on having a winning team. And, as we have seen over the last 26 years, fewer and fewer teams actually end up winning trophies.

That is a tragedy for the game.

If it was all based on having a winning team as you say then surely having Saints play Whitehaven etc would be great and we'd have a packed houses watching Saints give them a pasting, turning people away, no? It's about events, competitive and entertaining matches too. We don't have the talent pool available to make 36 teams competitive with each other without spreading the existing pool thinner nor the funds to develop it to the level which would be required to do so even within a generation or two.

Suggesting Saints and Warrington play each other ten times a season is just plain silly. Clearly there's a balance to be had. But simply changing structure to have teams with huge support bases (comparatively) and huge revenues (again comparatively) playing against part-time operations and limited revenues, isn't going to help the latter become the former any time soon.

More likely it's going to result in the former losing fans, revenues etc and ending up closer to the latter. Lower revenues leads to less money to invest in growth, player/coach development. It's a downward spiral.

By the way you didn't actually answer my main question...

2 hours ago, Moove said:

Why do you think one-sided games wouldn't last very long? None of these structure changes do anything to increase the talent pool, so where do the likes of the Cumbrian teams you mention get a load more international quality players to put them on a par with Saints and Warrington any time soon?

 

Edited by Moove
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