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A full season down south - is it possible?


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For those who don’t know much about the ins and outs of rugby league down south, players have two options.

Regional leagues that run May to July, taking in about 6-8 games on average.

Southern Conference runs a bit longer averaging about 10-12 games, especially in the eastern conference.

The reason I ask, I notice many of Cornwall’s new signings and one of WW Raiders’ are from Lancashire, grew up playing league, moved down but settled for playing union and having a few games where they could in their off-season for their nearest league team.

These players and numerous southerners would opt for an extended 15-20 season RL season if possible, I’m sure. Obviously not every RL playing southerner would as loyalties to RU clubs and seasons are too strong.

But the question stands… is an extended southern league possible? One that runs say April-September. Travel would be an issue but maybe 12 clubs split into groups of 4 would solve that. Who and where those 12 clubs would come from, maybe that’s the pie in the sky bit.

I just wish there was more of a strategy from the RFL to achieve something like this over the years, building little by little to achieve ‘proper’ RL clubs that kids who turn on C4 or Sky can opt for as their primary sport. 

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Not in the foreseeable future. That particular ship has sailed. RL couldn't achieve it ten to fifteen or so years ago when the sport as a whole was richer and in the south far stronger than now.

Imo, until the sport gets clubs housed in their own facilities they control, each with a good youth set up and the ability to raise revenue via a clubhouse, it won't happen.

Most 'expansion' clubs play out of union facilities, and they won't just sit there and allow RL to grow at their expense.

RL needs its own space in which to thive.

 

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23 minutes ago, Number 16 said:

Not in the foreseeable future. That particular ship has sailed. RL couldn't achieve it ten to fifteen or so years ago when the sport as a whole was richer and in the south far stronger than now.

Imo, until the sport gets clubs housed in their own facilities they control, each with a good youth set up and the ability to raise revenue via a clubhouse, it won't happen.

Most 'expansion' clubs play out of union facilities, and they won't just sit there and allow RL to grow at their expense.

RL needs its own space in which to thive.

 

Not that sure.

RU at community level needs facility usage  for much needed income 24/7 just as much as RL clubs do.

Orrell St James have a winter RU side. Liverpool St Helens have a NWML summer RL side.

Both have 'full' seasons.

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18 minutes ago, del capo said:

Not that sure.

RU at community level needs facility usage  for much needed income 24/7 just as much as RL clubs do.

Orrell St James have a winter RU side. Liverpool St Helens have a NWML summer RL side.

Both have 'full' seasons.

I think COVID implications have led to much altered fixture lists for RU down south meaning the RL season is arguably the shortest I’ve ever seen it.

My club’s group chat has just announced the divisions grand final being brought forward so it doesn’t clash with RU pre-season games. 

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A major problem that we have in the South is that some of the teams are >75% RU based. Catering for these sides then leaves the start of the RL season struggling to arrange/fulfil fixtures. I would rather run with a (say) committed 5-team league than (say) an 8-team league with some sides really flaky.

 

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7 hours ago, del capo said:

Orrell St James have a winter RU side. Liverpool St Helens have a NWML summer RL side.

Both have 'full' seasons.

Maybe, but both clubs are in a 'dual code' area. For each it's probably easier to attract players of 'the other code'. And I'd guess that many players have experience of both. 

In the south it's usually RL clubs 'borrowing' union players for the duration of a short season. 

2 hours ago, Archie Gordon said:

A major problem that we have in the South is that some of the teams are >75% RU based. Catering for these sides then leaves the start of the RL season struggling to arrange/fulfil fixtures. I would rather run with a (say) committed 5-team league than (say) an 8-team league with some sides really flaky.

 

This!

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It’s probably still the case that Hemel, St Albans (of old at least) which both have their own facilities could fulfil a longer season whilst Hammersmith Hills Hoists and Eastern Rhinos probably could too, despite sharing facilities w RU clubs. I don’t know enough of the other teams to share insight.

Choosing League over Union in the south often means forgoing a cheque at the end of each game as well.

I think if the RFL had its time again with all the funding it had to develop the game in London and the South East, it should have created new ring fenced a senior Southern Premier League with Stags, Rhinos, Tigers, Storm, Sharks and Skolars with new clubs based tactically and geographically like Dockers and Portsmouth (Seahawks was it?) then you would have the makings of an eight team elite standard league that could sell itself as an opportunity to play consistent, top level footy and feed surrounding junior clubs into those sides from Under 16s and 18s to deliver a match day and club experience for juniors to feed into a higher standard.

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2 hours ago, Sports Prophet said:

It may be controversial, but I would also consider limiting a senior match to 30 minutes a half outside of the professional game.

Absolutely not.

Attrition ( tiredness ) is an integral part of the game. The sooner the Professionals get back to it by limiting substitutions further , the better. That's when flowing football comes to the fore.

I've watched a number of charity cross code matches at community level  up here that have left otherwise decent and fairly skilled RU lads gasping for breath and looking for oxygen not long into the RL part of the match.........

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3 hours ago, Sports Prophet said:

It’s probably still the case that Hemel, St Albans (of old at least) which both have their own facilities could fulfil a longer season whilst Hammersmith Hills Hoists and Eastern Rhinos probably could too, despite sharing facilities w RU clubs. I don’t know enough of the other teams to share insight.

Choosing League over Union in the south often means forgoing a cheque at the end of each game as well.

I think if the RFL had its time again with all the funding it had to develop the game in London and the South East, it should have created new ring fenced a senior Southern Premier League with Stags, Rhinos, Tigers, Storm, Sharks and Skolars with new clubs based tactically and geographically like Dockers and Portsmouth (Seahawks was it?) then you would have the makings of an eight team elite standard league that could sell itself as an opportunity to play consistent, top level footy and feed surrounding junior clubs into those sides from Under 16s and 18s to deliver a match day and club experience for juniors to feed into a higher standard.

IMO this could still be the way forward. I've always been puzzled by the RFL's failure to help expansion clubs obtain stand alone facilities, as I'm sure the governing body's involvement in liaising with, for example, councils, would help. Follow that with grants etc from lottery, RL Foundation and the WC money, and clubs could obtain bricks and mortar.

 

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3 hours ago, Sports Prophet said:

It’s probably still the case that Hemel, St Albans (of old at least) which both have their own facilities could fulfil a longer season whilst Hammersmith Hills Hoists and Eastern Rhinos probably could too, despite sharing facilities w RU clubs. I don’t know enough of the other teams to share insight.

Choosing League over Union in the south often means forgoing a cheque at the end of each game as well.

I think if the RFL had its time again with all the funding it had to develop the game in London and the South East, it should have created new ring fenced a senior Southern Premier League with Stags, Rhinos, Tigers, Storm, Sharks and Skolars with new clubs based tactically and geographically like Dockers and Portsmouth (Seahawks was it?) then you would have the makings of an eight team elite standard league that could sell itself as an opportunity to play consistent, top level footy and feed surrounding junior clubs into those sides from Under 16s and 18s to deliver a match day and club experience for juniors to feed into a higher standard.

Pardon my ignorance, who are/were Storm?

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Maybe around London and the Home Counties you could get about half a dozen clubs together to play a full season, particularly those with a lot of Australian players. In other areas probably not, apart from the two east midlands clubs that are already playing a full season in the Yorkshire Men's League. The North East may be a better bet if you want an expansion area to play a longer season.

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15 hours ago, del capo said:

Absolutely not.

Attrition ( tiredness ) is an integral part of the game. The sooner the Professionals get back to it by limiting substitutions further , the better. That's when flowing football comes to the fore.

I've watched a number of charity cross code matches at community level  up here that have left otherwise decent and fairly skilled RU lads gasping for breath and looking for oxygen not long into the RL part of the match.........

I understand that argument but grassroots sport is supposed to be enjoyable. Blowout scorelines are not enjoyable. Rarely for the winners and never for the losers.

Minimising adult grassroots matches to just 30 minutes in growth areas can help to minimise blowout scores and non enjoyable experiences. This can only go on to help clubs retain players by:

1. improving enjoyment

2. present a more competitive environment

3. minimise injuries

the three factors I would imagine that have the biggest negative impact on growing and retaining adult participation.

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10 minutes ago, Sports Prophet said:

I understand that argument but grassroots sport is supposed to be enjoyable. Blowout scorelines are not enjoyable. Rarely for the winners and never for the losers.

Minimising adult grassroots matches to just 30 minutes in growth areas can help to minimise blowout scores and non enjoyable experiences. This can only go on to help clubs retain players by:

1. improving enjoyment

2. present a more competitive environment

3. minimise injuries

the three factors I would imagine that have the biggest negative impact on growing and retaining adult participation.

Good argument but I'm not convinced.

Blowout scorelines happen but that's no reason to cut the playing time. A lot can be learned from an occasional pasting . Ask West wales or when they start Cornwall. Or even Seaton Rangers in the NCL.....

Community rugby is indeed all about enjoyment but taking a quarter of the offer off the table isn't the answer.

Better facilities, a management group that can give quality fixtures ( yes I know that is a continuing problem in the non heartlands) having the craic is what it is all about.....That should answer your first 2 points,

As for injuries they can unfortunately happen at any time of the game. I have not seen any evidence to suggest they happen  more often at the end of a game....

Youth and juniors do indeed play a truncated game but that is entirely based on age/growth/fitness.

RL at all levels  is an extremely demanding sport. It is very very quick. Maybe it needs to be slowed down a bit at least at  say Tier 5 . Perhaps start by adjusting the rules there by making it a 5 metre defence line ? Would give some of those RU lads ( and a good few of ours )  a bit more puff in their lungs.

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4 minutes ago, del capo said:

 

As for injuries they can unfortunately happen at any time of the game. I have not seen any evidence to suggest they happen  more often at the end of a game....

 

It’s a simple mathematical equation. Less game time, less injuries. It’s not debatable.

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5 minutes ago, del capo said:

 

Youth and juniors do indeed play a truncated game but that is entirely based on age/growth/fitness.

 

Correct. Why do we expect grassroots adults to be the same fitness and size as FT professional players?

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7 minutes ago, del capo said:

 

Blowout scorelines happen but that's no reason to cut the playing time. A lot can be learned from an occasional pasting . Ask West wales or when they start Cornwall. Or even Seaton Rangers in the NCL.....

 

Professional clubs playing in professional competitions under professional conditions should not be compared to grassroots.

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9 minutes ago, del capo said:

 

RL at all levels  is an extremely demanding sport. It is very very quick. Maybe it needs to be slowed down a bit at least at  say Tier 5 . Perhaps start by adjusting the rules there by making it a 5 metre defence line ? Would give some of those RU lads ( and a good few of ours )  a bit more puff in their lungs.

I agree and have also considered 5m defensive lines in grassroots to be a good idea. This will minimise the number of big collisions and will also make it a little more difficult for the attack of a vastly superior team.

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Just now, Sports Prophet said:

That’s not a fair argument. Reducing the opportunity for injury, whilst delivering an enjoyable playing experience is a good strategy.

Of course it is.

Why not play 15 minutes each way then ?

Or Touch or Tag ?

In the last analysis RL is  a tough invasion sport. That's it's attraction at least to the likes of me. And perfectly enjoyable for player and spectator alike.....

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35 minutes ago, Sports Prophet said:

That’s not a fair argument. Reducing the opportunity for injury, whilst delivering an enjoyable playing experience is a good strategy.

There are modified versions of the game for a reason. Play them if the risk of injury is an issue.

The attraction of rugby league is that it is played by gladiators: players who need to be incredibly fit, strong and brave. That does make it less inclusive, but that's why we have touch and tag.

Not everything has to be all-inclusive.

Edited by Wellsy4HullFC
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