Reserves in Super League is a must

Young players are falling through the net of Super League due to it not having a proper Reserves league.

A reserves system was brought back into the game ahead of the 2016 season but it has progressed little since its restart. That’s not because of the teams involved, it’s because the number of teams involved is only four.

Wigan Warriors, St Helens, Warrington Wolves and Hull FC are the only top-flight sides to run a reserve team and they face each other three times per season, meaning the teams only play nine times throughout the year.

Is it a coincidence that the four who finished at the top of the Super League table last year are the only clubs who have reserve teams? I think not.

Young players develop mentally and physically at different stages. Some are ready to play first team level when they are 18-years-old whereas others of the same talent while in the Under-19s need a couple of years more to reach their true potential.

Due to the lack of reserve teams and games, clubs are left with no other option than to enter a dual-registration partnership with another club, likely to be in the Championship. Wigan, St Helens, Warrington and Hull are partnered with Swinton Lions, Sheffield Eagles, Rochdale Hornets and Doncaster respectively.

The dual-registration rule allows clubs to loan players to their partners on a weekly basis and this worked well for Liam Marshall last season as his impressive performances for Swinton on dual-registration earned him a professional contract with Wigan, as predicted by

Although it doesn’t seem ideal for players to play for a different club one week and another the next, not to mention playing under different playing styles. Also, would it not be better for players development in general if there was a full reserve league that was competitive instead of the games currently being friendlies?

That way, youngsters who aren’t quite ready for the first team would be able to play for the reserves and still have a chance of playing Super League for the club professionally rather than having to take a part-time contract in a lower league or even give up the sport all together.

Also, the RFL are in discussions with a couple of high-profile Super League players over becoming centrally contracted with the governing body as they try to keep hold of the competition’s best talent.

Instead of handing over bumper deals, why not pump that money into a serious reserve system? We could have many though of those star players if the Super League had a second-grade league.

Rugby league is in a good place at the minute but a reserve league in Super League could certainly help England on the international stage in the future.


  1. Absolutely essential for clubs to run reserve teams. Unfortunately we have a governing body who don’t have the balls to enforce this. As you say, rather than give out payments to certain “special” players, they should be investing in the framework of the league to ensure a pathway for younger players. We can but dream!!

    • This is a absolute must, the game is dying on its feet and you guys need to get of your butts and start demanding more from sky insist on straight forward rules not ref going to screen saying try no try , let the video ref look and decide, not super zoom taking minutes to decide. The referee are under extreme pressure from sky pundits,hence going to video ref for every reason to avoid making decisions.Stop this duel reg with championship clubs, go to reserve grade rugby using under 19 and squad player and those returning from injury. Iam afraid the other code is pulling away in terms of financing their game

  2. At very least it needs to be a u23’s with 3 overage players allowed.
    Personally I’d like to see SL reserve sides entered in the league structure, but unable to gain promotion above league 1 and do not player in the Challenge Cup.

  3. It should be compulsory that every super league team has a reserve team and they should have a competition to play for like super league and u 19’s we are loosing too much talent

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