Keighley reserves coach Dean Muir is “deeply upset” that the Rugby Football League has turned down the club’s application to join the returning reserves competition next year.
Last month, it was announced that the RFL and Super League had teamed up to bring back the reserves competition from next season.
The 11 English Super League clubs have approved a proposal for all top-level clubs to have a mandated reserve team from 2020. Bradford and Widnes – who also have Category 1 funded academies – will also run second string sides.
At the time when it was announced, the RFL confirmed five further applications from the Championship and League 1 had been made but Cougars’ reserves boss Muir is frustrated that their request was rejected.
In an open letter, Muir said: “I’m writing this open letter to our fans to express how deeply upset I truly am regarding the decision by the Rugby Football League to reject our application to join the revamped Reserves Championship competition in 2020.
“Regardless of what is said in the press over the coming days and weeks, the simple truth is that without the Keighley Cougars and Halifax RL since 2015, there would have been no reserve grade competition as we have been the backbone who kept the competition running when barely anyone at Super League level cared.
“For us as a club – a club that has produced a number of first team players for both our club and others through the reserve grade – this is a heartbreaking decision and one that will set the Keighley Cougars back in being able to develop our own homegrown players.
“Despite the fact the club is launching a Category 3 Academy starting from this September, the pathway between college age and open-age has now been cut and with rugby league being a late maturation sport, it means our timescale and opportunity to help develop these players has now been damaged.
“Finally, we now have a decision to make regarding the long-term future of our reserve players and club as well as making a decision short-term on whether it is worth our time and money to complete this current season and fulfil our remaining five fixtures. We should be able to make our stance on that clear very soon.”
The RFL have yet to make an official comment.