Pearson confirms Hull FC’s reserve grade return

Hull FC owner Adam Pearson has confirmed the club will run a reserve grade next season.

The Black and Whites pulled out of the system last year due to the ‘farcical’ setup in operation this year, but they will return next season

At least seven clubs are believed to be joining the structure next season, with more to potentially follow.

Pearson, speaking in the second part of an extensive interview with League Express, spoke passionately about the need for the structure to be rejuvenated, and called for other clubs to follow suit.

“I don’t think a professional sport can survive without a structure in between Academy and first team,” he said.

“I don’t know any other sport that has that vacuum and I just don’t see that rugby players, footballers or cricketers can jump straight from Academy into first-team rugby and therefore a lot of players are getting lost.

“We feel it’s vital there’s a step up from Academy into the transition to first-grade and that has to be a reserve league. Really, it should be pretty comparable in structure and how it’s run to the parent company and competition in Super League. The closer we can get to that the better and I’m sure you’ll find it will be run very professionally under Robert (Elstone) next year.

“We will have a competition that enables us to bring players through in a better way than we’re doing at the present time.”

Pearson, however, accepts that some clubs will still not have a reserve grade next season.

The likes of Wigan, St Helens and Wakefield are expected to run teams alongside, Keighley, Bradford and Halifax.

Others could follow, but it’s almost certain that there will not be an entire representation from Super League.

“I think the one standout club who don’t believe in the structure is Leeds and that’s fair play to them, it’s their opinion and they have an interest in various other clubs,” added Pearson.

“But I can’t see the other clubs not competing in it. It just doesn’t make sense for them to have nowhere to go at 19.

“I suppose finance might dictate it at one or two clubs but I just can’t see how it’s feasible to let a raft of Academy players stagnate for so long. We have to get hold of it.

“We are strong advocates. We pulled out this year because it was just farcical. It had four or five teams in it and games were getting cancelled at the last minute. It was of no benefit at all. If we’re going to do it then we need to do so properly and have it organised so we can prepare our sportsmen along the lines of what they can expect in Super League.

“You can send them out to your dual-registration club but that impacts on the integrity of the competition at a lower level. They’re soon thrown out if that club struggles, and it’s hard for the players at those clubs to see dual-registration players come in and take their place. It’s a minefield. It would be far better if the dual-registration was there but fundamentally they learned the games in a reserves competition.”