Clubs and players react to Championship & League 1 season cancellation

14th March 2020, DCBL Stadium, Widnes, England; Coral Challenge Cup Round 5, Widnes Vikings v Swinton Lions : Kenny Baker (15) of Widnes Vikings goes over for a try

Clubs and players have been reacting to the news that there will be no more Championship or League 1 in 2020.

Although an invitational competition is slated for the autumn, to help celebrate the RFL’s 125th anniversary, it’s as yet unclear how that will impact on existing player contracts or what clubs will enter.

Some players expressed their frustration at finding out the news via social media, after the RFL rushed out the announcement following yesterday’s board meeting to avoid a clash with this morning’s World Cup fixture reveal.

Halifax were one of several clubs to make a statement acknowledging the announcement, and confirmed their own board of directors would meet later this week to discuss the next steps.

Their coach Simon Grix said: “Well after months of frustration, what if’s and maybe’s we finally have a decision on the 2020 season.

“Very disappointing not to be getting back out there on many levels, but somewhat happy the limbo is over and we can concentrate on improving our club on and off the field for the 2021 season and beyond.”

Most clubs followed a similar angle, thanking supporters for their patience and paying tribute to players and staff who have waited patiently for news.

Flanagan’s Bradford were the first team to confirm their interest in participating in the new autumn competition.

League 1 side Rochdale confirmed that their board would meet on Tuesday to discuss possible entry to the invitational competition planned for the autumn.

Widnes also acknowledged the impact on their season ticket holders in light of the season’s cancellation.

Their statement said: “The club will analyse all scenarios before we decide whether it will be the best option for the club to enter this alternative competition.

“Once a decision on this matter has been made, Widnes Vikings will communicate with supporters regarding match tickets, Season Tickets and other matters effected by this announcement.

“The club understands there will be a number of questions from supporters following this news, and thank you all for your patience throughout this unprecedented period.

“We will aim to communicate all of the relevant information with supporters as quick as possible.”

Leigh’s former Wigan and London half-back Jarrod Sammut has took to Twitter in search of a new club – the Malta international has played just once in 2020.

Some clubs are yet to acknowledge the announcement on their official channels – while a handful chose simply to use the RFL press release to share the news.

Featherstone said they would make a further statement today (Tuesday), having earlier issued a statement saying they would be keen to take Toronto’s place in Super League.

Ambitious Newcastle Thunder, who have made the bold aim to win Super League by 2030, also mentioned the Challenge Cup in their statement acknowledging the end of the league season.

Thunder were due to face Toronto Wolfpack in the last 16, with the Canadian side now withdrawing, means Thunder could progress straight to the quarter-finals if they choose to continue.

They missed out on promotion to the Championship last season by losing to Oldham in the Grand Final.

A statement said: “The club also acknowledges the statement from Toronto Wolfpack regarding the Canadian club’s withdrawal from the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup, whom Thunder were due to face in round six of rugby league’s oldest knock-out competition.

“The club will communicate with supporters in the coming days on the implications for us that will result from these decisions.”

The five non-Super League clubs left in the Challenge Cup – Newcastle, Featherstone, Sheffield, Widnes and York – have been given until the end of July to confirm their participation.

It seems unlikely that any would take part, even with the news of an autumn competition available to those clubs.

The RFL says there will be a detailed application process requiring clubs to prove their ability to meet the necessary protocols and medical standards, with further details about the competition expected later this week.

1 Comment

  1. After over 45,000 deaths from this virus , I don’t care which team you support or what side of the Pennines you come . I just want everybody from the clubs and supporters to be happy and safe . If we miss a season to get clear of this horrible thing so be it , we have the future to look forward to , were we can argue laugh cheer and win , because I’d rather have a supporter sat next to me than a lot of empty seats because we died .

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