Have London Broncos kicked any chance of a return to Super League into touch with their decision to go part-time?
Looking back, Danny Ward’s decision to leave, originally at the end of the season but then brought forward to July, was perhaps a sign of what was coming.
He’d had a long association with the club, going back to his playing days, and for that to be broken certainly raised a few eyebrows.
Danny did a terrific job, first taking the club back into the top flight in 2018, then coming so close to keeping them there.
That victory over hot favourites Toronto Wolfpack in Canada three years ago was a terrific triumph, and shows upsets can happen.
Despite all the problems promoted clubs face in building a competitive squad – just look at Leigh this year – the Broncos punched above their weight.
Gaining ten wins was a great achievement, and it must have been gut-wrenching to be the side to lose out in that dramatic final round.
Inevitably, the squad was broken up, and the pandemic put paid to any chance of an immediate return to Super League.
To be fair to owner David Hughes, he invested in new signings and kept the squad full-time for this season, and I think he deserves credit for that.
But it hasn’t worked out as he’d hoped for whatever reason, and now it’s a new approach, with Jermaine Coleman moving from London Skolars to become coach.
He’s a Leeds lad like myself, but has been down in London for a long time now, and has a good knowledge of the Rugby League scene there.
The Broncos, who have a decent development system and have produced some good players down the years, are hoping to take the homegrown route back to the top table.
But however hungry those players are, it’s a really tough ask, especially with just the one promotion place available.
It’s ironic that the switch to part-time has come with the club due to move to, and put down roots at, the Plough Lane Stadium in Wimbledon.
Like most people, I’ve lost count of the number of grounds they’ve played at down the years, and so many switches have done nothing to help build the kind of fanbase needed to make Super League rugby sustainable without the injection of plenty of external cash.
All the best to David Hughes and the Broncos, but I’m not holding my breath.
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