UpFront: Dual registration is back – but is it needed?

Featherstone have just announced one, but York don’t want one.

Dual registration is back this year, with Rovers and Leeds the latest to confirm a partnership.

The pair follow Bradford and Hull, Dewsbury and Hull KR, and Newcastle and Wigan, with Leigh and St Helens expected to link.

York were partnered with Castleford before dual registration was put on the back burner amid the difficulties which Covid protocols would have posed (and given the rising number of Omicron cases, short-term movement between clubs could add to the problem).  

But James Ford told local newspaper The Press: “I went to speak to Lee Radford at Castleford about it and I just don’t feel like we need it.

“I have a good relationship with Cas and with Lee, and if we needed a player, he would probably be one of the first people that I’d speak to.

“(York chairman) Jon Flatman has got some good connections over in Hull, Leeds and Huddersfield as well.

“We’re a fairly well-connected club, so I don’t necessarily feel like we need a dual-registration because we’ve got a good squad and good competition for places.

“What I don’t need is additional pressure to play younger players who need opportunities to get better.

“We need players who are already at the level we need them to be at.”

Ford’s points apply to dual registration being used as it is intended – to provide up-and-coming players with the chance of gaining valuable experience of competitive action, with both Broadbent and Harry Newman among the Leeds players who have benefited from outings with Featherstone in the past.

But there have been instances where far-more experienced operators have dropped a division, for example Lee Briers turning out for Swinton as he was coming back from injury when a Warrington player in 2013, the year dual registration was introduced.

And there’s also the problem of part-timers whose contracts include payment for appearances and/or wins losing out because a dual-registration player is drafted in.

A curiosity is that dual registration has returned at the same time as a Reserve competition, with the two apparently existing for the same reason and so threatening to make life harder for each other.

Then there’s the loan system, which amid changes to the regulations introduced as a response to issues raised by Covid, was not dissimilar to dual registration last year.

The minimum loan period for the 2022 season has again been reduced from 28 to 14 days.

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