Throwback Thursday: Rugby league pulls together?
The re-structuring talk virtually took over 2018, and it’s not new in terms of rugby league.
Indeed, re-wind back to December 1999 and there were calls then for the various factions of rugby league to unite under one umbrella – the Rugby Football League (RFL), Super League Europe (SLE), British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA) and the Association of Premiership Clubs (APC).
Former Super League and Bradford supremo Chris Caisley even suggested the formation of Great Britain Rugby League Ltd, to bring all sectors under one roof to release lottery funding.
That could have well-been the ideal move, but it of course never happened – and instead we’ve seen the disappearance of Great Britain rugby league as a brand, and still harbour some of the same problems of 20 years ago.
Then RFL chairman, Sir Rodney Walker, said: “All our progress is undermined in the eyes of our supporters and sponsors by the consequences of mergers/closures and the image of conflict between the different sectors of the sport.
“This trend must be reversed. The time is right for all those who carry influence, at whatever level, within rugby league to work together to formulate a lasting strategy for the future of the game.”
Fast forward to 2019, and we now have a separate Super League, BARLA still doing its own thing though with a better relationship with the RFL, and there were calls last year for Championship and League 1 clubs to potentially form their own governance, much like the old APC.
Who knows where we might be had Caisley got his way with Great Britain Rugby League – perhaps the 13-man code would now have ownership and dominance of British Rugby as a brand.