We have the most exciting relegation battle for years, largely because licensing and the Super 8s stole it from us, and yet people are now complaining London shouldn’t go down.
The Broncos deserved to stay up for their efforts as huge favourites to be relegated, but they finished bottom, that’s sport.
For those saying that maybe Super League should move to keep them, well that’s just anti-sport. Plus the beauty of the Broncos season would have been lost had there been no relegation.
The legacy of the licensing system is that fashionable clubs are deemed more worthy than others, and that is wrong.
The theory is big cities attract more commercial and broadcast revenue, though the jury is still out on that one.
The Swinton saga is another example of where rugby league is tying itself in knots.
Andy Mazey and his team have done a fantastic job turning that club around, but it appears that isn’t good enough for some fans, who want to retain the Swinton name.
That’s their prerogative. Given they had their ground taken away from them and have lived a nomadic existence in the near three decades since, the name Swinton is virtually all they have left of their club.
While it may be an early death knell for Swinton, if their fans are happy with their team simply existing even as an amateur team, rather than lose it to “Manchester”, then that’s their choice.
Of course that doesn’t condone the abuse Mazey and co have received, but it highlights why the RFL should have accepted Manchester Rangers a few years ago, rather than trying to shoehorn old clubs in to following this theoretical road to stardom.
All rugby league needs to do is continue with a structure that enables clubs to aspire to grow, but also means that the strong communities that exist within the sport aren’t eroded by frustration at the state of the game.
Toronto, and Toulouse, should be given a whole heap of credit for starting at the bottom and working up – and they are now the favourites to progress in to the top flight.
Clearly no one is ever going to take the game by the balls and enforce a proper franchise system, so rugby league now needs to accept it’s going to continue having an open door, and make sure that the structure below Super League is sufficient enough to keep clubs – no matter what their size or where they’re from.
Rugby league can ill afford to be losing clubs or fanbases, as that renders expansion obsolete.
Leigh’s defeat to Featherstone on Sunday means a new face in Super League in 2020, and that will be exciting in the build-up to the 2021 d-day.
While Toronto will be heavy favourites, it seems like the ideal time for Toulouse to be promoted – particularly with Catalans floundering somewhat.
Maybe the presence of a second French team would revitalise the Dragons, and also attract some French TV revenue.
A word to for Doncaster, who put the cat amongst the League 1 play-off pigeons with a win over Newcastle, the hipster’s choice for promotion to the Championship.
Thunder must now beat Workington to set up either a re-match with Doncaster or a trip to Oldham for a place in the Grand Final.