Time to embrace whoever makes the Super League spot their own
The best two teams in the Championship will go head to head on Sunday to become the 24th different club to reach Super League.
Toulouse and Featherstone were the heavy favourites prior to the season and they have delivered – romping to first and second spot respectively, and then easing through their semi-finals at the weekend.
The Championship Grand Final will take place at the Stade Ernest Wallon on Sunday (6pm UK).
Prior to Toronto’s briefest of stints in the competition, the last time a new club was elevated to the top flight for the first time was back in 2009 – when Celtic Crusaders were handed one of the 14 licenses.
And whichever of the two make it, they should be embraced.
The Championship Grand Final favourites
In terms of expansion, Toulouse would be an obvious choice – although that seemed the same last year when Leigh were parachuted in.
With French rugby league enjoying something of a renaissance, and interest at an all time high thanks to Catalans’ trophy-winning exploits and journey to this year’s Grand Final, it has never been a better time to have a second team across the Channel.
It is frankly absurd that the Dragons have had 16 years on their own – when they were introduced back in 2006, there should have been a strategy to have others join them long before now.
GRAND FINAL: Toulouse and Featherstone through to fight for promotion to Super League
As it is, Toulouse have earned their stripes on the pitch – starting in League 1 and eventually finding their way to the Championship Grand Final after a few seasons.
They have won every single game they have played in 2021 – albeit, English teams’ reluctance to travel to France means they’ve only had to take to the field 14 times.
Given the slumber Super League finds itself in, Toulouse might provide the shot in the arm it needs.
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Done all they can
But, if Featherstone do earn their place, they too should be embraced.
There was nothing stopping Bradford, Newcastle or York doing what Rovers have done in 2021.
They won 20 of their 21 Championship games.
They also won four cup games, including the 1895 Cup final at Wembley.
If come full time on Sunday they are on top, they will have earned their place – no doubt about it.
The fact a village in Yorkshire can reach the top flight isn’t something to be ashamed of – it’s something to embrace.
And for all the work Featherstone have done in the past decade or so, they would deserve their chance to rub shoulders with the best.
It would also give them the opportunity to gain local bragging rights over Castleford and Wakefield, who have done much less than Rovers despite millions of central funding in the summer era.
Their previous period of dominance in the Championship came during the licensing era, albeit on only one occasion did they end the season as champions.
Whatever the outcome, a fresh face in Super League will be most welcomed.