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West Wales Raiders - laughing stock


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47 minutes ago, The Future is League said:

West Wales WILL get their act together, but need a bit more time.

If a vast majority of their squad are Welsh that can only be good for the game in Wales in the long term

Here’s the thing, the vast majority of the squad are not at all local.

Of the 17 that got beat by Oldham only 8 were Welsh. The raiders attract a lot of English students especially from the south west.

Sadly for Raiders, welsh talent skips their link in the supply chain. Any decent junior coming through either goes back to RU or enters the WRL academy and immediately links with Salford’s reserve team. Raiders isn’t an option for most. 

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5 minutes ago, welshmagpie said:

Here’s the thing, the vast majority of the squad are not at all local.

Of the 17 that got beat by Oldham only 8 were Welsh. The raiders attract a lot of English students especially from the south west.

Sadly for Raiders, welsh talent skips their link in the supply chain. Any decent junior coming through either goes back to RU or enters the WRL academy and immediately links with Salford’s reserve team. Raiders isn’t an option for most. 

Quite a few go to Halifax too iirc? 

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6 minutes ago, welshmagpie said:

Here’s the thing, the vast majority of the squad are not at all local.

Of the 17 that got beat by Oldham only 8 were Welsh. The raiders attract a lot of English students especially from the south west.

Sadly for Raiders, welsh talent skips their link in the supply chain. Any decent junior coming through either goes back to RU or enters the WRL academy and immediately links with Salford’s reserve team. Raiders isn’t an option for most. 

That is disappointing

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3 minutes ago, welshmagpie said:

Here’s the thing, the vast majority of the squad are not at all local.

Of the 17 that got beat by Oldham only 8 were Welsh. The raiders attract a lot of English students especially from the south west.

Sadly for Raiders, welsh talent skips their link in the supply chain. Any decent junior coming through either goes back to RU or enters the WRL academy and immediately links with Salford’s reserve team. Raiders isn’t an option for most. 

This is the challenge for clubs in development areas. Midlands looked a class above Cornwall at the weekend, but only had 1 Midlander in their squad to my knowledge. Cornwall and West Wales have a much higher proportion of 'local' players in the squads, but are being heavily defeated at present. Not sure what the make-up of Skolars' squad is at the moment, but saw they were heavily defeated at home at the weekend. The situation with Broncos going part-time presumably means they're fishing in the same limited pond for players now. There just doesn't seem to be enough local talent coming through to underpin these expansion teams, so the choice either seems to be go local and risk getting thumped every week (e.g. Cornwall and Raiders), or get experienced players from the north in order to be competitive (e.g. Midlands). For me there needs to be solid foundations of multiple community clubs all running juniors at several age groups underpinning those pro teams. It isn't feasible for the pro clubs to facilitate that development work, given their limited resources, so the RFL should be doing something about it. And if the RFL are washing their hands of that development responsibility, then they shouldn't have allowed these clubs in their elite competition IMO. Either invest in development and do it properly, or don't do it. The half-baked approach that throws new clubs in at the deep end to see if they can sink or swim hasn't exactly been a roaring success. We've seen Oxford, Hemel and Gloucester all disappear. Time will tell what happens with these other clubs. It would be brilliant if one of them could be a beacon of development with loads of juniors coming through in the years to come. It's just so frustrating that they have the dice loaded so heavily against them with minimal help from the governing body.

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1 hour ago, The Future is League said:

West Wales WILL get their act together, but need a bit more time.

If a vast majority of their squad are Welsh that can only be good for the game in Wales in the long term

I really hope they do, but it’ll be tough, extremely tough for them to turn this around 

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7 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

This is the challenge for clubs in development areas. Midlands looked a class above Cornwall at the weekend, but only had 1 Midlander in their squad to my knowledge. Cornwall and West Wales have a much higher proportion of 'local' players in the squads, but are being heavily defeated at present. Not sure what the make-up of Skolars' squad is at the moment, but saw they were heavily defeated at home at the weekend. The situation with Broncos going part-time presumably means they're fishing in the same limited pond for players now. There just doesn't seem to be enough local talent coming through to underpin these expansion teams, so the choice either seems to be go local and risk getting thumped every week (e.g. Cornwall and Raiders), or get experienced players from the north in order to be competitive (e.g. Midlands). For me there needs to be solid foundations of multiple community clubs all running juniors at several age groups underpinning those pro teams. It isn't feasible for the pro clubs to facilitate that development work, given their limited resources, so the RFL should be doing something about it. And if the RFL are washing their hands of that development responsibility, then they shouldn't have allowed these clubs in their elite competition IMO. Either invest in development and do it properly, or don't do it. The half-baked approach that throws new clubs in at the deep end to see if they can sink or swim hasn't exactly been a roaring success. We've seen Oxford, Hemel and Gloucester all disappear. Time will tell what happens with these other clubs. It would be brilliant if one of them could be a beacon of development with loads of juniors coming through in the years to come. It's just so frustrating that they have the dice loaded so heavily against them with minimal help from the governing body.

I wonder if any study has ever been undertaken to examine how many community clubs by area are required to sustain a professional club and supply them with for example 60% of their players?

it would be a useful tool when evaluating applications for new clubs in development areas.

If I had to guess, I would estimate at least 12-16 open age sides per pro club.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the likes of Workington, Swinton, Oldham and Doncaster have all seen their fortunes dip in recent years as the local amateur game has declined

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2 hours ago, sgorpioncaerdyddrob said:

SW Scorpions made the playoffs in their first season in 2010, benefitting from local player loans from the Crusaders SL side. Hasn't come close since. 

With Anthony Seibold as coach....In a town much closer to Cardiff AND Swansea and with an owner who invested much more heavily.

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34 minutes ago, welshmagpie said:

 

Sadly for Raiders, welsh talent skips their link in the supply chain. Any decent junior coming through either goes back to RU or enters the WRL academy and immediately links with Salford’s reserve team. Raiders isn’t an option for most. 

Virtually every kid with a sliver of a chance of a pro future in RU here follows RL at SL level and loves to play when given chance. The regions and WRU dangle carrots and incentives that ensure they stick with RU even when these kids aren't really in with a shout. We regularly have several playing for Ospreys sides who they have no intention of taking beyond 16yr old but who they keep within their system via District and Boys Club of Wales setups when really they need to be given proper chance at RL. Raiders location really helps this for the WRU because they are so far from anywhere except Llanelli even if they do train in Bridgend.

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19 minutes ago, Pen-Y-Bont Crusader said:

No. The club owners own the Stebonheath bar next to the pitch so no chance.

I was aware of that. Why not keep their community club there (Llanelli Knights?) and run their first team out of Cardiff? Hiw much money is that bar making and what % of that comes from League One matchdays anyway?

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33 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

This is the challenge for clubs in development areas. Midlands looked a class above Cornwall at the weekend, but only had 1 Midlander in their squad to my knowledge. Cornwall and West Wales have a much higher proportion of 'local' players in the squads, but are being heavily defeated at present. Not sure what the make-up of Skolars' squad is at the moment, but saw they were heavily defeated at home at the weekend. The situation with Broncos going part-time presumably means they're fishing in the same limited pond for players now. There just doesn't seem to be enough local talent coming through to underpin these expansion teams, so the choice either seems to be go local and risk getting thumped every week (e.g. Cornwall and Raiders), or get experienced players from the north in order to be competitive (e.g. Midlands). For me there needs to be solid foundations of multiple community clubs all running juniors at several age groups underpinning those pro teams. It isn't feasible for the pro clubs to facilitate that development work, given their limited resources, so the RFL should be doing something about it. And if the RFL are washing their hands of that development responsibility, then they shouldn't have allowed these clubs in their elite competition IMO. Either invest in development and do it properly, or don't do it. The half-baked approach that throws new clubs in at the deep end to see if they can sink or swim hasn't exactly been a roaring success. We've seen Oxford, Hemel and Gloucester all disappear. Time will tell what happens with these other clubs. It would be brilliant if one of them could be a beacon of development with loads of juniors coming through in the years to come. It's just so frustrating that they have the dice loaded so heavily against them with minimal help from the governing body.

Hurricanes have got players from a wide area but there is one thing they have in common and that's buying into the philosophy of establishing a club in the midlands. Part of the reason for the rebrand was to establish a pyramid where players in the midlands can see a pathway. Currently the Hurricanes have a sister club in Coventry Bears (back to being an open age community club) and 3 junior community clubs (2x in Coventry and 1 in Birmingham). This is just the start as these things take a long time with very little financial support. The club is trying to link up with community clubs across the Midlands starting with events like the Midlands 9s and offering tickets for games. The vision is there and will take time but there are determined people wanting to make it happen 

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26 minutes ago, Death to the Rah Rah's said:

I wonder if any study has ever been undertaken to examine how many community clubs by area are required to sustain a professional club and supply them with for example 60% of their players?

it would be a useful tool when evaluating applications for new clubs in development areas.

If I had to guess, I would estimate at least 12-16 open age sides per pro club.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the likes of Workington, Swinton, Oldham and Doncaster have all seen their fortunes dip in recent years as the local amateur game has declined

I remember watching a programme years ago, when Ken Arthurson (then head of the ARL) spoke about needing thousands of junior players in an area before even contemplating starting a pro club there. His interview was presented in contrast to the shambolic situation around Nottingham City, who at the time were bussing in players from the north due to a lack of local players, and were struggling to compete (I think a year or two before they were eventually kicked out of the league). Can't remember the exact numbers Arthurson stated as it was years ago, but think the minimum requirement for numbers of junior teams ran in to the hundreds.

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21 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

I remember watching a programme years ago, when Ken Arthurson (then head of the ARL) spoke about needing thousands of junior players in an area before even contemplating starting a pro club there. His interview was presented in contrast to the shambolic situation around Nottingham City, who at the time were bussing in players from the north due to a lack of local players, and were struggling to compete (I think a year or two before they were eventually kicked out of the league). Can't remember the exact numbers Arthurson stated as it was years ago, but think the minimum requirement for numbers of junior teams ran in to the hundreds.

You’re right. The problem for non heartland clubs is attracting players who can compete. Over two decades we’d got close to doing that but then Broncos ripped the squad out. Our squad are local but inevitably are struggling. Ditto WWR and Cornwall. End result - it’s almost impossible to attract new fans. 
How do you develop community clubs when there’s no history of RL though? Impossible so there needs to be another solution. 

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20 minutes ago, EssexRL said:

How do you develop community clubs when there’s no history of RL though? Impossible so there needs to be another solution. 

That's the million dollar question! My gut feeling is that there needs to be a simultaneous top down and bottom up approach. I.e. a concerted effort from the governing body to focus some grass roots development efforts in a targeted area, with a full time pro club at the top of a pathway. We've seen with both Broncos and Crusaders during their time in Super League that they were able to bring through talented local players. I don't believe that League 1 clubs are capable of providing a comparable carrot to that of a full-time pro club for a talented, aspiring youth player. 

This is why I'm frustrated with the RFL's 'pins in maps' approach to new pro clubs. I think there should be a far more coordinated/joined-up approach to admitting new clubs to the professional structure. I also think that licencing has a role to play in this, in terms of focusing resources on targeted areas, rather than spreading resources too thinly.

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1 hour ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

This is the challenge for clubs in development areas. Midlands looked a class above Cornwall at the weekend, but only had 1 Midlander in their squad to my knowledge. Cornwall and West Wales have a much higher proportion of 'local' players in the squads, but are being heavily defeated at present. Not sure what the make-up of Skolars' squad is at the moment, but saw they were heavily defeated at home at the weekend. The situation with Broncos going part-time presumably means they're fishing in the same limited pond for players now. There just doesn't seem to be enough local talent coming through to underpin these expansion teams, so the choice either seems to be go local and risk getting thumped every week (e.g. Cornwall and Raiders), or get experienced players from the north in order to be competitive (e.g. Midlands). For me there needs to be solid foundations of multiple community clubs all running juniors at several age groups underpinning those pro teams. It isn't feasible for the pro clubs to facilitate that development work, given their limited resources, so the RFL should be doing something about it. And if the RFL are washing their hands of that development responsibility, then they shouldn't have allowed these clubs in their elite competition IMO. Either invest in development and do it properly, or don't do it. The half-baked approach that throws new clubs in at the deep end to see if they can sink or swim hasn't exactly been a roaring success. We've seen Oxford, Hemel and Gloucester all disappear. Time will tell what happens with these other clubs. It would be brilliant if one of them could be a beacon of development with loads of juniors coming through in the years to come. It's just so frustrating that they have the dice loaded so heavily against them with minimal help from the governing body.

There are 5 midlands born players in the Hurricanes squad ( only 2 played on Sunday).

Some of whom were Bears juniors. That junior development produced players that have in turn moved on to other clubs. That is normal, it happens all the time. See for example the number of Cumbrian players playing for clubs in other counties. So what if we bring on players from Northern clubs? Leigh's Jacob Jones was one of ours who went the other way.....swings and roundabouts 

But I do take your basic point. Junior clubs do produce pro players and that it is important that juniors have the opportunity to learn their craft. The more junior clubs we have the more players will be produced. Of course, the attrition rate is phenomenal. For every pro there must be hundreds that don't make the grade.

Of course one of the big differences is that Coventry Bears did try to produce players and the Hurricanes will be trying to do the same. How many pro clubs in the North can say the same? Most let the community do the work and then pinch their players without giving the community clubs any help at all.

 

 

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Ron Banks

Midlands Hurricanes and Barrow

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42 years since the founding of Fulham and the RFL still hasn't got round to producing a strategic plan for London. That gives an indication as to where non-heartlands development sits on the ladder of importance. The stakeholders with power in rugby league would rather be bald men fighting over a comb (structural change, breakaway, realignment, structural change, breakaway, realignment ad nauseum) than get to grips with the fact that you can only get so many players of sufficient quality and funding out of a relatively small number of towns. Can Cas or Wigan really produce any more than they are already doing? It is a shame that the energy that goes into infighting or moaning about how many away fans are turning up isn't put into positive development of the sport.

It is difficult to run a professional club, but it is at least doubly difficult outside the heartlands. Non-heartlands clubs seem to be expected to grow the game in their areas and produce players while their budgets have been slashed and with next to no central assistance. They have to at the same time compete with clubs who do next to no development themselves, but are able to fill out their teams with ex-academy players from super league clubs and bolster their ranks with loan and DR signings from higher leagues.

When I was involved with a community club years ago, the impression given in any dealings with the RFL was invariably that people there were pleased that we were playing their game, but that it was their game not our game. I am not sure that anything has changed on that front.

Having said all of that and so not to be totally despondent, I should note it's not all bad. Growing up where I live I could never have imagined the game not only being played in my town, but to have a thriving junior section producing professional players, including two internationals and one signed last week by a NRL club. That club has grown out of a team which back in the mid noughties was perhaps the WWR of its day: taking weekly hammerings and being subject to the same sort of online derision. At least there is the satisfaction of seeing what developed when nearly twenty years ago we too were being called an embarrassment to the sport.

 

 

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37 minutes ago, Bearman said:

Leigh's Jacob Jones was one of ours who went the other way.....swings and roundabouts 

I think this issue links in to my previous post about the need for simultaneous top down/bottom up development. At present, those players who want to maximise their earning potential have to look away from League 1 in order to be able to do that. Off the top of my head, there are a number of players knocking around the pro game who originally came from the Midlands - Jason Bass, Ryan Millar, Matt Davies, Sam Davies, Jacob Ogden, Will Lovell, Lewis Peachey, for example. For argument's sake, had the RFL decided that the Midlands was a key area for development, and had chosen to launch a Super League club there, then those players would potentially be playing for that team now, instead of moving to other areas of the country to further their careers. Moreover, there would have been countless other gems unearthed, because there is so much raw rugby talent in the region. But with rugby union being so huge, it's only going to be a full-time pro team that will provide the necessary carrot to entice more of those better players to opt for league IMO. League 1 is limited in its ability to do this. 

25 minutes ago, Jeff Stein said:

The stakeholders with power in rugby league would rather be bald men fighting over a comb (structural change, breakaway, realignment, structural change, breakaway, realignment ad nauseum) than get to grips with the fact that you can only get so many players of sufficient quality and funding out of a relatively small number of towns. Can Cas or Wigan really produce any more than they are already doing?

And this is why the lack of any development strategy is so disappointing. There isn't anything special in the water that predisposes youngsters from Cas and Wigan to be good at rugby league - it's purely the infrastructure and association with the game in those heartlands areas. We've seen with London Broncos, and also Crusaders during their short Super League existence, and even with those Midlands examples above, that there are the raw materials in these development areas to produce pro players. It just needs a joined-up strategy from the governing body to enable it to happen - not the 'pins in maps' approach we've seen for as long as I've been watching the game.

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I do think that North Wales, South Wales, London, the North East, the Midlands and Cornwall could be regional hubs for the game. That would require a long term strategy and decent levels of central funding though and I can't see that happening any time soon. For now clubs in those regions are on their own to try and make it happen. 

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2 hours ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

... Not sure what the make-up of Skolars' squad is at the moment, but saw they were heavily defeated at home at the weekend. The situation with Broncos going part-time presumably means they're fishing in the same limited pond for players now...

Skolars 17 on Saturday were pretty much all based in London. Of the players i have a bit of knowledge  about they had at least 6 Skolars junior pathway players and at least 4 players from other London junior pathways. There were about 4 Aus/Kiwi players from the London amateur league. Not sure about the rest of the lineup, but think they are all from down south routes.

They are a completely new team with only a very few players from last year. Most are very young and very inexperienced. 

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1 hour ago, OriginalMrC said:

I do think that North Wales, South Wales, London, the North East, the Midlands and Cornwall could be regional hubs for the game. That would require a long term strategy and decent levels of central funding though and I can't see that happening any time soon. For now clubs in those regions are on their own to try and make it happen. 

 Cornwall will get there, I promise. 

I don't think that we're on our own, either. Everyone I met on Sunday who had come from 'heartland' areas played a massive part. That counts for a lot.

I hope every single RL fan down here over the summer drops by for a home game. 

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My sense in Wales is that RL is what the kids/players do when there is no RU "coming calling" and until you get past that they are always doomed to fail in developing and keeping a competitive "local" squad.

We've heard for years how players are being encouraged and developed but if you include the Crusader pre SL national league years they've had (semi) pro RL there for around 15 years so where are all those players?

WWR thought they could bolt a pro team onto their amateur setup when Scorpions/Ironmen hit the wall but I wonder if they were naive enough to think RFL central funding would pay for that move. They clearly lack funding, witness the way they shut down most winters and fail to prepare properly (warm up games and rather fundamentally employing a coach) for the following season. 

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7 hours ago, stevecl said:

We've heard for years how players are being encouraged and developed but if you include the Crusader pre SL national league years they've had (semi) pro RL there for around 15 years so where are all those players?

Well Regan Grace is at St Helens, for example. I'm led to believe the best Welsh youngsters are by-passing WWR and going straight to Super League academies. The Evans twins started their careers with Warrington. Is that because there isn't a potential full-time career at the top of the pathway in Wales? We saw the likes of Elliot Kear, Gil Dudson and Ben Flower all come through Crusaders' system when they were in Super League. My guess is that had there been a consistent/stable Welsh presence in the top division then we would now be seeing countless more Welsh-born players in the comp. And also a far more competitive Welsh national team. It's so disappointing that it hasn't happened, and is yet another in a long line of missed opportunities for the game.

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11 hours ago, langpark said:

I was aware of that. Why not keep their community club there (Llanelli Knights?) and run their first team out of Cardiff? Hiw much money is that bar making and what % of that comes from League One matchdays anyway?

Cardiff is probably the worst place in Britain to try to start a pro RL club. It's not a particularly big city, but has a well supported football club, a rugby union team which averages approaching 7000 people, an ice hockey team averaging nearly 3000, county cricket etc. But then you have the Welsh national team in most sports to contend with too - competing with football or rugby internationals 20+ times per year.

Need to be either the only team in a small town, or the second team in a large town. 

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17 minutes ago, JonM said:

Cardiff is probably the worst place in Britain to try to start a pro RL club. It's not a particularly big city, but has a well supported football club, a rugby union team which averages approaching 7000 people, an ice hockey team averaging nearly 3000, county cricket etc. But then you have the Welsh national team in most sports to contend with too - competing with football or rugby internationals 20+ times per year.

Need to be either the only team in a small town, or the second team in a large town. 

I thought there was a small but hardcore following for Welsh RL, scattered across some of those small towns in the south. Hence why I think they need to choose one of the major cities as a hub where they can all converge. 

I don't know about you, but averging 200 fans per game in Cardiff, is better than 200 in Llanelli as there is still a lot of room for potential growth. The same cannot be said for Llanelli. 

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