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A full season down south - is it possible?


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On 27/03/2022 at 09:57, welshmagpie said:

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. 

The Southern Conference runs end of April to September, so not far off. The East division is 14 games then 3 play-off games, so it's basically what you're describing anyway, at least in and around the London area.

I think the difficulty at the moment is the pathway through - the August months are probably the hardest because of school holidays etc so how does a club go from a Regional League of 3 months to a full league of 6 months? Is there a better way to bridge the gap between those? e.g. after regional leagues there's a kind of cross-South playoff system to give the strongest teams additional fixtures to see if they're ready to step up to a longer season.

At the moment, it's not really about team strength, it's about ability to get that consistent team out - having a strong side in a regional league doesn't necessarily mean you're a good fit to go up to Southern Conference because of the extra games.

Lastly, I think the best strategy at this stage is simply to increase the number of teams participating in regional leagues and grow the number of regional leagues as well. Once you start taking care of those things, clubs who are switched on and doing well will emerge and these longer seasons will take care of themselves.

Almost need three season-lengths:

June - super casual, union players trying it out, old boys, social teams, new clubs etc

May - July - regional leagues, developing club, maybe takes it a bit more seriously (but doesn't have to!)

April - September - Southern Conference, serious clubs who likely have embedded some proper infrastructure (own ground or leased ground, generating commercial revenue for sustainability etc)

And then on top of that - how easy is it to set up a new club with the RFL? Is it clear what you should do if you want to start a club? How do you go about it? Is there any support (in terms of expertise rather than financial) available to help you grow and find appropriate fixtures?

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4 hours ago, zylya said:

The Southern Conference runs end of April to September, so not far off. The East division is 14 games then 3 play-off games, so it's basically what you're describing anyway, at least in and around the London area.

I think the difficulty at the moment is the pathway through - the August months are probably the hardest because of school holidays etc so how does a club go from a Regional League of 3 months to a full league of 6 months? Is there a better way to bridge the gap between those? e.g. after regional leagues there's a kind of cross-South playoff system to give the strongest teams additional fixtures to see if they're ready to step up to a longer season.

At the moment, it's not really about team strength, it's about ability to get that consistent team out - having a strong side in a regional league doesn't necessarily mean you're a good fit to go up to Southern Conference because of the extra games.

Lastly, I think the best strategy at this stage is simply to increase the number of teams participating in regional leagues and grow the number of regional leagues as well. Once you start taking care of those things, clubs who are switched on and doing well will emerge and these longer seasons will take care of themselves.

Almost need three season-lengths:

June - super casual, union players trying it out, old boys, social teams, new clubs etc

May - July - regional leagues, developing club, maybe takes it a bit more seriously (but doesn't have to!)

April - September - Southern Conference, serious clubs who likely have embedded some proper infrastructure (own ground or leased ground, generating commercial revenue for sustainability etc)

And then on top of that - how easy is it to set up a new club with the RFL? Is it clear what you should do if you want to start a club? How do you go about it? Is there any support (in terms of expertise rather than financial) available to help you grow and find appropriate fixtures?

I think the challenge is we always go for a 5 month season to bridge the gap between a 3 month season and a 7-8 month season but it's not necessarily the best idea. Sometimes it works, but sometimes you get the worst of both worlds whereby the 7 month off season is too long, and means people end up playing RU or BARLA, but the seasons overlap so you get reduced player availability at the start and end of the season.

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38 minutes ago, bowes said:

I think the challenge is we always go for a 5 month season to bridge the gap between a 3 month season and a 7-8 month season but it's not necessarily the best idea. Sometimes it works, but sometimes you get the worst of both worlds whereby the 7 month off season is too long, and means people end up playing RU or BARLA, but the seasons overlap so you get reduced player availability at the start and end of the season.

Yeah, that's why I thought a play-offs system might be better - clubs who think they can make the extras can go for it, clubs who think they'll struggle don't have to enter. Especially because some clubs will have extra success than expected and can ride that wave, and clubs that have struggled in terms of results can call it early.

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54 minutes ago, zylya said:

Yeah, that's why I thought a play-offs system might be better - clubs who think they can make the extras can go for it, clubs who think they'll struggle don't have to enter. Especially because some clubs will have extra success than expected and can ride that wave, and clubs that have struggled in terms of results can call it early.

Yes, I guess also a pre season competition with groups then knockout could work to give 6-8 extra games (there was a pre-season RLC Cup at one point run on a similar basis).

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