Clubs u-turn over summer switch

Amateur clubs in the north west are re-applying to join the winter-based North West Counties League, just months after the revolutionary summer switch.

In a bid to unify the community and professional games, a new structure was put in place for the 2012 season, with the majority of clubs opting to ditch their existing winter leagues to switch to summer-based competition.

However, the North West Counties League have now announced that the start of their 2012/13 winter season has been put back to mid-September to give as many teams as possible the opportunity to join or re-join the competition, following a number of applications from club’s in the summer-based league.

BARLA Chairman Spen Allison said: “I’m delighted to learn that many clubs are now returning to the North West Counties ARL. After sampling the summer game it now seems they have realised that the grass is not as green as it had been promised to be.

“BARLA’s stance has always been to support the clubs and players, for those clubs that wanted to try summer rugby did so with the association’s blessing.

“Sadly many of these clubs were coerced into leaving an established league of long standing to join what can only be described as an experiment. Time is rapidly showing this to be the wrong choice and it’s good to welcome them back.”

According to Leigh East chairman Phil Johnson, their club has suffered a loss of earnings attributed to a dip in crowds during the summer months, with people’s time tied up with other commitments such as family holidays, weddings and spending time with their children, as well as a loss of revenue from bar takings, weddings and christenings.

He said: “We all thought summer rugby was the future and sailed our ships in a new direction. Now after smapling the first part of the summer season, we are strongly in favour of moving back to the winter leagues.

“We all have obligations to our families in order to keep and maintain health relationships in our private lives and the usual break in the summer use to give us the time to regenerate our love and passion for the game. I think for the good of the game, BARLA and NCL should get together and put egos to one side to prevent our clubs and this great game going into decline.”

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