Have they changed their minds?

Looking at the media coverage and reaction to Celtic Crusaders’ win over Salford city Reds in the NL1 play-offs, it appears many think the Welsh side have justified their three-year tenure in Super League. That’s a very odd way of looking at it.nnThere’s no doubt that the Crusaders have impressed this season, arguably never more so than in their win at The Willows. Arguments have, rightly, been made about an excess of overseas players, but, that aside, for a club to reach the Grand Final in its first season after promotion is impressive.nnBut this overlooks this very pertinent fact: rugby league isn’t run that way any more.nnUp until this season the system was that a team’s position within the three leagues was determined by its performances on the pitch. Win the NL1 Grand Final and you could come into Super League; finished bottom of Super League and you were relegated. That’s just the way it was.nnThe RFL decided, with a great deal of support, that such a system wasn’t viable, and had to be changed to a franchise system in the long-term interests of the game. Under that system a club’s position would be determined by its performances off the pitch, in marketing, stadiums, geographical position, attendances, player development and so forth.nnThat’s the system under which Celtic Crusaders were admitted to Super League. But it seems that many people who supported the new system are already hankering for a return to promotion and relegation, or something like it. For what other reason can they suddenly decide that the Crusaders’ on-field performance befits a place in Super League?nnMore than this, Celtic – although having achieved a great deal – haven’t won anything yet. So many people seem to think that merely qualifying for the Grand Final is enough to merit three years in Super League. nnIf the RFL are vindicated by the Crusaders reaching the Grand Final, that logically means that they will be proved wrong if the unexpected happens and Salford fail to qualify and Whitehaven reach the Grand Final. Even if that is the case it hardly matters does it? Salford will still go up; Whitehaven won’t.nnIt just seems strange that people who advocated a franchise system and support Celtic Crusaders’ bid under this system should now invoke the system they deemed not viable to justify the decision. Have they changed their minds?nnKeep Your Eye On Rugby League

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