The Big Debate
THE British Amateur Rugby League Association has stressed that clubs or leagues who failed to respond to a recent survey conducted by the Association on the `Four Seasons’ issue have not been assumed to be in favour of remaining winter-based.
BARLA revealed, early last week, that figures from their ballot, presented to the Community Board at the beginning of July, confirmed that 100 per cent of responding leagues are against any change to a summer season and that, similarly, 81.5 per cent of clubs are in favour of the status quo.
BARLA Secretary Roger Fagge, responding to a query by Trevor Hunt, the Chairman of the Hattons Solicitors National Conference League, said: “We had a 70 per cent response from our leagues; of those, there was a unanimous mandate for no change in their playing season. As for the clubs, I would have liked a better response but the percentages were akin to those polled in the RFL consultation.
“The calculations were based entirely on responses received and it is not correct that a lack of response was taken as a vote of maintaining the status quo; it would be wrong to assume that a lack of response was counted as a vote in favour of keeping the playing seasons as they are.”
Hunt, meanwhile, revealed that 14 of his own 38 clubs, asked “should the NCL consider switching operations and become a summer based competition?" responded in the affirmative. Eighteen were against such a consideration, and six were ambivalent.
BARLA’s findings are at odds with those submitted by Vision TwentyOne, the independent research company commissioned by the Rugby Football League, which suggest that almost 60 per cent of players wish to switch to summer. The Association stated: “Our survey, which was distributed to all full members and associate members, carried a simple request which read: `To coincide with the RFL’s consultation on the change of playing season, BARLA is issuing a straightforward, simplistic questionnaire in an effort to determine the Association’s feeling on this subject from all players, coaches and club administrators within the amateur game. Does your club want to change its playing season?”
BARLA split its request into four groups: Open Age, Youth (U16s-U18s), Juniors (U12s-15s), and Juniors (U8s-12s). Fagge said: “These figures carry an overwhelming mandate by the playing leagues to carry on playing in their traditional winter season; they also give a very clear indication by the clubs that they also wish to remain in their present season.”
He added: “BARLA has gone on record as saying it will not be dismissing any initiatives out of sight and will be working closely with the RFL to find the best possible way forward for the sport; that position has not changed. However BARLA has made clear that its intention is to work in the interests and wishes of their members, and the RFL are fully aware of this.
“The Association wishes to make it clear that any league or club that chooses to continue playing as they are will receive the full support of the British Amateur Rugby League Association. BARLA is pleased to note that the RFL Community Board has confirmed that any league or club that chooses to remain playing as at present will receive the full support of the Community Board.”
The Community Board, meanwhile, will meet on Friday (16 July) to discuss, in principle, the detail of the proposed new playing season. The Board will convene again on 14 September to work on a blueprint for a March-November campaign. That blueprint will, it is envisaged, come to fruition at a further meeting in December.
By kind permission of the League Express & Phil Hodgson
As one of your regular readers and (whisper this bit) somebody who believes that amateur rugby league should be left to those who know all about it and not those who want to change it to a summer sport, I was curious to discover that those calling for a switch claim that postponed matches in winter are their big concern.
Yet when I ran through the results of the nation-wide summer conference divisions in the LE today I noticed there were nine 24-nils (the score for no-shows). That’s almost 20 per cent of the games due to be played. I thought the weather was nice and sunny over the weekend - perhaps these "clubs" couldn’t raise a team because their players found something else to do - like enjoy a day out with their family.
Having been involved in amateur RL since 1969 (I know I don’t look it!) in both winter and summer (Corby Pioneers, Tameside Borough and Manchester Knights). In the 15 years of the life of Tameside in the Pennine League I only once had to call off a game because we couldn’t raise a team. In the four years that the Manchester club existed we had to rely on BARLA players for every single game.
Sadly I can see that we are about to become Luddites, dinosaurs, while the Johnny come latelys (RU players filling in timer between seasons) take over.
Looks like I’ll have to go back to watching amateur soccer in the winter.