Tag Archives: salary cap

Gould: Open age second-grade beats elite youth teams in development

2013 Holden Cup logo

Phil Gould has written this interesting piece in the Sydney Morning Herald to urge changes to the current National Youth Competition arrangements.

As the Australian Rugby League Commission has asked Jim Doyle to carry out a study into development pathways, Gould contests the belief by some that an accomplished NYC player is ready for the NRL – he thinks that’s when they should be moved to a NSW or Qld Cup team – and highlights several other problems:

  • Players and agents are demanding more money – prematurely and increasing player development costs
  • Some NYC players are being included in NRL squads’ salary caps to prevent poaching – straining the rest of the squad and the cap
  • The NSW Cup and Qld Cup competitions aren’t as prominent as they should be

Gould says, “I love the NYC. I am a big fan. But I also know the second-tier, reserve-grade level of development is vastly more important”.

As well as helping provide player pathways to first grade, the New South Wales and Queensland Cup competitions give the game an opportunity to include clubs and areas that aren’t able to support a top tier side – and those that are waiting for their chance.

Dual registration

In the UK, the dual registration system and the changes made to academy competitions have their criticisms. As Gould says in his article, it will be interesting to see what former NZRL boss Jim Doyle’s findings are.

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The Challenge Cup’s handicap

Challenge Cup logo 2013

The Challenge Cup is a competition that brings a lot to the season. As well as fond memories and a change from league campaigns, it offers something that no other competition does. It brings together professional, semi-professional, amateur, police, armed forces, student and overseas sides in pursuit of the game’s oldest trophy.

The early rounds are fairly competitive, with few blow-out scores, as progressively stronger community teams enter the competition each round. But, when the semi-pro and professional teams enter the competition, the magic of community sides playing sides from the Championships and those championship sides meeting Super League sides is tempered by some heavy scorelines.

Only natural, when minnows play giants? Up to a point.

 Tiers of the UK structure

Tier 1 Super League
Tier 2 Championship, Championship 1
Tier 3 Conference Premier, Conference One, Conference Two, Conference Three
Tier 4 Other community clubs

Differences between tiers are unavoidable. It’s natural that clubs in tiers 1 and 2 are able to generate more money and use it to secure better coaches, better sports science and, of course, better players. Since squads in the top tier are now fully professional, the gap has increased further.

There are imposed differences, like the salary caps, too. In 2013, the headline salary caps for the semi-pro and pro game are: £1,650,000 for UK-based Super League clubs, €2,200,000 for the Eurozone-based Super League club, £300,000 for the Championship division and £150,000 for Championship One.

Rugby league is not a kind sport to weaker teams which is a problem for a whole game competition like the Challenge Cup. If you’re further down the structure than your opponent, you have a handicap. Factors inherent to the league system can’t be changed for a few matches in the cup, but the RFL could look at the potential of a cup handicap for teams in different tiers or with different salary caps to help mitigate them.

The handicap could combine a mix of changes and aim to be mostly unobtrusive

Interchanges are currently identical. A fully professional team being able to rotate players as usual and as much as a semi-pro or amateur team is clearly unfair. For each level of tier/cap, why not take interchanges from the ‘higher’ team and give more to the ‘lower’ team?

Referees could be selected from the lower team’s league competition, if they prefer, even if it’s for non-TV games only. Rather than a lower team having to adapt to refereeing from a level above, let’s move any disadvantage to the higher division team.

Quarter/three quarter time could be called, if the lower team wants it. This is more obtrusive but the stoppage is not new to the game. A break would only happen if the lower team thought they would gain from it, e.g. by halting the opposition’s momentum and reorganising. Near to the mid-point of each half, the team would decide, whether by the referee asking the captain or by the coach telling an official.

These are a few ideas for consideration; the handicap could be assessed and set by the RFL each year.

Now, ready for some cup rugby? The 2013 Challenge Cup schedule:

Round 1 1st & 2nd December 2012
Round 2 9th March
Round 3 7th April
Round 4 20th April
Round 5 11th May
Quarter Finals 13th & 14th July
Semi Finals 3rd & 4th August
Final 24th August

Update: Read the RFL’s response here.

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