Breathtaking manipulation

It looks as though Toulouse Olympique may be compensated for the failure of their bid for the engage Super League with a place in Co-operative National League One in one of rugby league’s more senseless decisions of recent times.nnFor all my opposition to Les Catalans Dragons’ entry into Super League three years ago, I well understood the logic behind the decision. Yes, there was all that stuff about revitalising the game in France and meaningful international contact. But the logic that allowed the decision to be made was that Super League was meant to be a European competition.nnSuper League Europe, such as it was meant to be, sits above both UK National League One and French Elite League. Therefore the move for the Dragons was an upward one, and, as the argument went, one they deserved by being at the top of the French game. In fact they reached the French Grand Final the year before their entry into Super League.nnBut, that being the case, the Toulouse-into-NL1 move has none of this logical background. Firstly the league is a National League, not a European one; secondly the move therefore is a sideways one, between competitions which are roughly equivalent, rather than a promotion. In what way will this benefit Toulouse? They won’t be playing at a much higher standard than they are now. nnWill National League in Toulouse have the same impact as Super League in Perpignan? Will this allow the club to compete with the local rugby union and soccer teams? That’s without even going into the cost of travelling to France once a year for part-time clubs, often with home gates of just a couple of hundred. But the heartland clubs are pretty much expendable at the moment it seems.nnThe move has just one aim: to get Toulouse into Super League. After the franchise decision the RFL told us not to worry as one NL1 club would be going up in 2012. They then casually informed us Toulouse would be joining NL1 before 2012, as though we were going to believe the decision in three years’ time would be a fair one. This is manipulation on a breathtaking level.nnThe RFL would have been better being honest and saying that a club from the French Elite League or NL1 would be getting in rather than this ridiculous ploy. Is it any wonder that other clubs which missed the cut are wondering whether they’ll ever see Super League again? nnKeep Your Eye On Rugby League

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