IT was interesting to note this week that the overwhelming majority of players want Super League to revert to 12 teams and for the game to bring back one-up-one-down between the top tier and the Championship.
The structure they want is pretty much the same as the one before licensing was introduced in 2008.
Two questions immediately sprung to mind.
Firstly, what does it tell you about the decision to scrap that system and bring in licensing in the first place? (Perhaps it suggests there are now plenty among us muttering “I hate to say I told you so, but...”).
Secondly, where does this leave the Rugby Football League’s proposal to bring in their much-publicised, and much-maligned, split-league system come 2015?
As this column has previously reported, the sport’s governors are in discussions over the structure of the professional game from 2015 onwards, the controversial licensing system having been shown up to be a flawed model.
Three options are on the table: Model ‘A’ – two 12-team leagues that split into three leagues of eight after 11 games; Model ‘B’ – two ten-team divisions of Super League; Model ‘C’ – 12-team Super League, one up/down promotion/relegation with Championship.
According to a survey by the players association, 1eagu3, the convoluted model ‘A’, despite being the favourite among league administrators, has been rejected hands down by the players. Model ‘B’, meanwhile, has largely been ignored. Model ‘C’ is their way back to the future.
1eague3 chief executive Ernie Benbrow hit several nails on the head when he said: “We have consulted our members who have voted in numbers with a clear and unequivocal message.
“Rugby league has a habit of tinkering with issues. It continually tinkers with its rules/laws regularly causing confusion to the watching public. Simplicity and stability are key to success and not change for the sake of change.”
There was a warning within his statement, however, when he effectively suggested he feared this poll — and those of fans – might be ignored by RFL chiefs adamant that the proposed split league system is best.
“I am grateful to the RFL for consulting with 1eagu3 both in terms of information and in face to face briefings,” he said. “It is hoped the consultation is proper, effective and meaningful and not lip service to the required consultative process.”
AS an aside, it was interesting to note a lack of arithmetic skills among the rugby league press corps, too. (Sorry, chaps.) Many scribes wrote or tweeted that “92 per cent of Super League players” were against the split league proposal.
But, actually, it was as many as 96 per cent (or 95.6 per cent to be more exact) as the first figure forgot about the few who voted for the other option on the table.
The full vote of the 158 players polled was: seven in favour of model ‘A’, the split league (4.4 per cent); five in favour of model ‘B’, the two Super League divisions of ten (3.2 per cent); and 146 in favour of model ‘C’, one up one down (92.4 per cent).
IT was interesting to note, too, just a few days before this players’ poll was revealed, that a certain Richard Lewis was handed a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Lewis was chairman of the RFL when it brought in the licensing system and, if memory serves, was a big proponent of it.
It was the biggest, most significant move during his time in charge, and the fact it is now being scrapped just five years later, and only a year after he quit the RFL, suggests it was rather a duff call.
Another big change during Lewis’ tenure was the scrapping of the brilliant, powerful, hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck rugby league brand that was Great Britain in favour of individual Home Nations teams, and it’s fair to say that call remains a controversial one, too.
Another was the decision to sign up to the Stobart Super League sponsorship agreement, about which the less said the better.
It was interesting, therefore, that Lewis should get a CBE for services to sports administration. He may have done lots of good things behind the scenes at the RFL, but this gong perhaps had more to do with his work in tennis and as chairman of Sport England than what he did for rugby league.
REMEMBER all the York RL heritage stuff in this column last week regarding special new commemorative kits for the Knights?
Well, how about this for looking back to the past with pride — 100 years into the past to be exact.
It comes from The Press’ “The Way We Were” columns, and concerns a York lad who was one of the best rugby league players in Australia but needed to find a fiver from somewhere to return to Blighty and play Northern Union rugby back home.
Mr H Rushholme, of Petergate, had made an appeal, as reported in this newspaper a century ago.
“I need about £5 more to secure the value of a ticket to enable us to bring Tot Moore back to York from Australia,” it said.
“Tot is playing football there and says he never played better in his life than recently. Although he has been able to secure work, and had tempting offers to remain and play football in Australia, he is anxious to get back to York, and would give of the best to his old club.
“Will members and friends of NU football kindly help me further to raise the balance required? It is expected that the York NU Football Club will be considerably strengthened; and the services of Tot Moore, whom the Australian Press acclaim ‘the smartest full-back in all Australia,’ will substantially improve the composition of the team.”
Dons roaming does for game
THE Knights’ hopes of rearranging their Kingstone Press Championship match at Doncaster for next weekend have been quelled by the Dons’ march to the Northern Rail Cup semi-finals.
The game, postponed in March due to bad weather, will almost certainly now be played in a midweek later in the season, making life that bit harder for the two teams in their battle to either beat the drop or make the play-offs.
There is a break in the league programme next weekend to accommodate the two cup semi-finals, and York and Donny had provisionally pencilled it in as a date for the fixture. However, the Dons, conquerors of York in the first knockout round, beat Swinton in the quarter-finals to set up a last-four showdown with South Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Eagles.
The Knights’ next game after tomorrow is the home clash with Barrow, which has been rearranged for Thursday, July 4 to accommodate the Premier Sports television cameras.
Scott on the march
SAM SCOTT jumped right into the reckoning for The Press Player of the Year award with his man-of-the-match display last time out.
The three points he picked up for that display in the win over Keighley lifted him to second in the standings.
Former Player of the Year Nathan Freer also got on to the leaderboard (1) that day and George Elliott (2) added to his tally.
The Press Player of the Year standings: Presley 14pts, Scott 13, Carr 12, Sullivan 12, Aldous 10, Lee 9, Brown 8, Nicholson 8, Ford 8, Briscoe 6, Hadley 3, Lineham 3, Lyons 3, Elliott 3, Smith 2, Golden 2, Bowden 2, Dent 2, Johnston 2, Potter 1, Kent 1, Brining 1, Freer 1.