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Mild Rover
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This is not a cycle - what can other clubs do? : Sun Sep 25, 2022 12:53 pm  
For the first 15 or 20 years of SL it was very possible to see the dominance of a few clubs as one of the sport’s natural cycles. To me, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, it now feels like a permanent hegemony, and that realisation requires some sort of adjustment - initially from the non-hegemonic faction.

None of the options are hugely palatable but those that occur to me are:

1. I don’t think it is very tenable anymore but we should acknowledge the ‘try harder/follow the example of the big clubs’ argument, which has been the ‘this is just a natural cycle’ orthodoxy for a long time. Such a long time that I feel like it doesn’t now deserve much attention. Optimistic fans of also ran clubs, holding out for a super rich benefactor or believing that this next batch of academy graduates must surely, after so many false dawns, represent a golden generation may disagree and want to wait longer. Even I want to see what new coach can do at Hull KR but optimism seems to be, at this point, in short supply. So, moving on…

2. Make a mental adjustment, or the ‘Scottish Football’ solution. Accept that a small number of clubs will continue to dominate the sport over the long-term, essentially in a higher intensity competition, within and central to the wider league programme, with other clubs providing a backdrop and their fans realigning their ambitions to be… well, less ambitious. The Hull derby might forever more be two bald men fighting over a comb, but it can still be fun and entertaining.

3. Do something radical to have a competitive top flight team to support. I’m thinking something like a part-time league including Cas, Wakefield, Featherstone, Doncaster, Sheffield, York, Hull FC and Hull KR feeding in to a full time MEGATEAM. You could have another based on Keighley, Batley, Dewsbury, Hudds, Fax and Bradford. I know, it’s a bit extreme… but when the other options I see are continually having hopes exposed as baseless or giving up on hope as we currently define it in RL, it seems less so.
'Thus I am tormented by my curiosity and humbled by my ignorance.' from History of an Old Bramin, The New York Mirror (A Weekly Journal Devoted to Literature and the Fine Arts), February 16th 1833.

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I think the fact only Wigan, Leeds, Saints and Bradford have won the GF masks that others have been 80 mins from doing so (Salford, Catalans, Wires and Castleford all in the last few years).

So yes, the name on the trophy doesn't change much, but the finalists do - so it's far from stagnant.
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shinymcshine241 wrote:
I think the fact only Wigan, Leeds, Saints and Bradford have won the GF masks that others have been 80 mins from doing so (Salford, Catalans, Wires and Castleford all in the last few years).

So yes, the name on the trophy doesn't change much, but the finalists do - so it's far from stagnant.


I take your point, and if any of those teams had got over the line it’d feel quite a bit different. Wire had enough bites at the apple and Cas were good enough in 2017 that one or both really should have done. Around the mid-2010s it felt like there was a little window of opportunity - annoyingly for me Hull FC seized the opportunity in the CC while Hull KR… well, suffice to say Hull KR didn’t.

It feels like the window is closed now. Leeds’s (by their standards) poop period looks to be ending, and Matt Peet seems to be doing a good job at Wigan. Making a GF, Salford 2019-style, probably is the height of ambition for half SL for the next 10 years. Scoring a try and not being humiliated - that’d be nice. But not nice or likely enough to enjoy SL as a whole.
'Thus I am tormented by my curiosity and humbled by my ignorance.' from History of an Old Bramin, The New York Mirror (A Weekly Journal Devoted to Literature and the Fine Arts), February 16th 1833.
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I can't help but look at the other Grand Final this weekend as the answer. A Saints v Leeds academy Grand Final. That is why the clubs that win SL win SL. Because they have a feeder system that works (Warrington do too, but they neglect it and aren't patient enough). The likes of Saints, Leeds and Wigan have academy players banging down the door to get a chance. Other clubs aren't allowed a scholarship setup. That is one of the biggest things IMG need to fix. Every club in Super League AND the Championship should be made to run a proper scholarship programme and academy. If they won't or can't afford it, they really don't deserve to be in those competitions, get them out and replace them with clubs that will.
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Saddened! wrote:
Every club in Super League AND the Championship should be made to run a proper scholarship programme and academy. If they won't or can't afford it, they really don't deserve to be in those competitions, get them out and replace them with clubs that will.


Nonsense. I think the gurning lump of gristle from Cumbria was right in trying to remove some of the Academies. The only way we can thrive as a sport is by narrowing the amount of player pathways.
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Saddened! wrote:
I can't help but look at the other Grand Final this weekend as the answer. A Saints v Leeds academy Grand Final. That is why the clubs that win SL win SL. Because they have a feeder system that works (Warrington do too, but they neglect it and aren't patient enough). The likes of Saints, Leeds and Wigan have academy players banging down the door to get a chance. Other clubs aren't allowed a scholarship setup. That is one of the biggest things IMG need to fix. Every club in Super League AND the Championship should be made to run a proper scholarship programme and academy. If they won't or can't afford it, they really don't deserve to be in those competitions, get them out and replace them with clubs that will.


I think it is a bit of a chicken and egg thing. It could work in a better balanced competition but doesn’t work to achieve rebalancing. Cas and Salford have achieved relative success taking different approaches that suit them. If we want a one size fits all solution we need clubs that are more similar in size.

‘Get them out and replace them’… replace them with who? I don’t think many/any replacements exist… currently. Realistically, imo, we accept the status quo, imbalances and all, or go for a major restructure.
'Thus I am tormented by my curiosity and humbled by my ignorance.' from History of an Old Bramin, The New York Mirror (A Weekly Journal Devoted to Literature and the Fine Arts), February 16th 1833.
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Mild Rover wrote:
I think it is a bit of a chicken and egg thing. It could work in a better balanced competition but doesn’t work to achieve rebalancing. Cas and Salford have achieved relative success taking different approaches that suit them. If we want a one size fits all solution we need clubs that are more similar in size.

‘Get them out and replace them’… replace them with who? I don’t think many/any replacements exist… currently. Realistically, imo, we accept the status quo, imbalances and all, or go for a major restructure.


It is the biggest single reason Saints are successful. Salford are a classic example of a savvy group of people identifying a load of misfits and fringe players with talent and assembling something competitive on a budget. They reached the semi final and were brilliant to watch at times, but it's all so short lived. They're losing players to mid-table sides and once Croft moves on they're back to having to do another big rebuild. The strength of those is dictated by the availability of players and eventually they'll have a bad year and go down. That will then kick off a major financial meltdown and it's unlikely they'd ever come back.

There's definitely enough talent around for each team to have their own academy and it doesn't cost much.

As for the replacements, the likes of Featherstone, Leigh, York would all run academies if you required it of them I'd bet. I know Salford want to, they've applied time and time again for the same status as the big clubs. They are desperate to run one and there is definitely the talent around to have a competitive team too.

I really don't see what reducing the number of academies does. If anything it just strengthens the big clubs and weakens the weakest, so you end up the situation we've got now with only three clubs in the division who have ever won it.

Another wild suggestion is the return of town teams. Have regional centres of excellence for the best players in each region and have those drafted into the professional clubs. That means the big clubs can't just sweep up all the talent.
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Pumpetypump wrote:
Nonsense. I think the gurning lump of gristle from Cumbria was right in trying to remove some of the Academies. The only way we can thrive as a sport is by narrowing the amount of player pathways.


I take it this is sarcasm? I can't really tell anymore, think I'm getting to that age.
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Well for a start referees can stop pandering to the big clubs especially at their grounds.
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Willzay wrote:
Well for a start referees can stop pandering to the big clubs especially at their grounds.


If they do pander to big clubs, then they could stop... but they likely won't. Why would that change if nothing else does? If the other clubs in SL were bigger, then that'd change perceptions and help overcome any learned expectations and unconscious biases.
'Thus I am tormented by my curiosity and humbled by my ignorance.' from History of an Old Bramin, The New York Mirror (A Weekly Journal Devoted to Literature and the Fine Arts), February 16th 1833.
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