Garry Schofield has plenty of questions for the RFL on the latest round of Academy licenses and challenges the assertion that it is designed to protect the community game.
I think the RFL have some explaining to do over the awarding of Academy licences – or should that be non-awarding?
Not surprisingly, many people are asking questions over what Bradford, Castleford and Hull KR, who are all losing the right to run so-called elite Academies, have done so wrong.
On the face of it, all three have produced a string of first-team players, and all three are based in areas which have traditionally been fertile production grounds.
Surely there are others who could follow in their footsteps.
And what about Cumbria? How many Super League players have emerged from what is a real Rugby League heartland but has been so neglected over the years.
Ten clubs – Catalans, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, London Broncos, Newcastle, St Helens, Wakefield, Warrington and Wigan – have been successful in earning licences for the 2022-27 period, and well done to them.
I understand a lot of work has been put into development of the game in the North-East, but why back Newcastle, where football has such a stranglehold, so making it really hard work for any other sport, and not Cumbria?
The RFL presumably have their reasons, but we haven’t heard them.
If the Scholarship and Academy system is so good, as the governing body seems to think it is, why is it so limited in terms of the numbers of clubs?
Why aren’t more being encouraged to operate Academies, because surely the aim is to get more youngsters playing Rugby League.
I’ve seen the RFL suggest they are keeping the health of the community game in mind.
The same body who want to impose fees on amateur players?
I haven’t seen any improvement since they took over the running of the community game, and I’d like to see BARLA take the reins again.
The amateur game played a huge part in my development as a player, just as it did for many of my generation, and I was proud to follow the route of playing for Leeds and District, Yorkshire and eventually Great Britain before turning professional with Hull.
I feel so passionately about BARLA regaining control that I have put myself forward as a potential future chairman.
Decisive weeks ahead for basement dwellers
There are a couple of big weeks coming up for Wakefield and Leigh, who have both had a tough start to the season.
Trinity are at home to Huddersfield on Sunday while Leigh go to Hull KR, then the pair of them meet at the Mobile Rocket Stadium, or Belle Vue in old money.
Both will see the next two matches as a realistic opportunity to rack up two wins.
Leigh haven’t had it easy since learning of their promotion to Super League through that controversial bidding process.
They had to assemble a squad after the other eleven clubs had first dibs on the available players.
And they were presented with a tough fixture list, featuring two clashes with Wigan as well as games against Warrington, Castleford and St Helens in the first six.
John Duffy’s side have had periods of being competitive in several games so far, including last Monday’s meeting with Wigan.
That will provide some encouragement as they move forward and try to be better for longer spells, giving themselves a chance of grabbing those crucial victories.
As has been said several times, their challenge this season is to do better than one other club, possibly Wakefield, making that June 6 contest so crucial.
While I could see Wakefield beating Huddersfield (I’ll say by seven), I suspect Hull KR will have too much for Leigh and win by 24.
There are some other really interesting games, not least in France, where Catalans face Wigan and will aim to build on that excellent victory over St Helens, whose cautious approach remains a puzzle.
I thought Arthur Mourgue was excellent for Catalans in the absence of Sam Tomkins, and I can see them beating Wigan by 14.
St Helens need to bounce back in their Challenge Cup semi-final rehearsal against Hull, and I’ll go for a home win by seven at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Warrington are hitting some decent form, and I’m taking them to see off a spirited Salford by eight, while I’ll go Castleford by 14 against Leeds.
Eastmond exit the right call
Fair play to both Kyle Eastmond and Leeds for coming to the conclusion that his return to Rugby League wasn’t working out and cutting their losses just a couple of months into a two-year contract.
Kyle was a terrific young player when he was at St Helens, and to become a dual-code international showed his ability to adapt to the different demands of rugby union.
But that difference was highlighted by the difficulty he had in readjusting to our game, and while some might say he and the club should have given it more than two months and two games, Kyle knows his own mind and his own body.
Given his age (31), the length of time he’d been out of Rugby League (nine and half years) and the fact that his Leeds debut against Wigan was a first game of either code of rugby in 14 months, it was always going to be a tall order.
So was expecting him to play such a creative and crucial position as halfback for a side struggling badly for both bodies and form, especially when in that first match, the scale of Leeds’ injury problems meant he had a second rower, Rhyse Martin, rather than a genuine stand-off alongside him.
Let’s not forget that some of his best performances for Saints were at centre, and he tended to play in that position or at fullback for his three rugby union clubs, Bath, Wasps and Leicester.
Playing Rugby League is a hard way of earning a living, even more so if you’re not enjoying it, and it didn’t look like Kyle enjoyed either of his games for Leeds.
It was a gamble that failed to come off, and in such circumstances, a parting of the ways is best for all concerned.
Leeds can now bring in someone else and hopefully Kyle enjoys whatever comes next more than he seemed to do his short spell at Headingley.
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