NATIONAL League One (NL1) clubs have had a mixed response to news that the RFL will modify promotion and relegation procedures for the ESL. Rugby Football League boss Richard Lewis recently announced that the current promotion-relegation system will be scrapped in 2009, with NL1 teams having to fulfill a range of financial and performance criteria in order to be considered for promotion. Such promotion will be less frequent with all ESL teams to be guaranteed 3 year ?licences?.
THE Toulouse Spacers are the only remaining hope for an upset in this years Powergen Challenge Cup after defeating National League 2 club Doncaster Dragons last weekend. The French Elite 1 club is the only remaining non-ESL team to qualify for the quarterfinals, which are to be played on the last weekend of June.
WHILE few would argue that the ESL competition is currently more competitive than ever, this weekend reinforced the fact that there is still a clear division between the genuine contenders and the also-rans. After coming so close to springing upsets Warrington, Widnes and London fans must be crying in their beers, after their teams were mowed down by ?Big Four? opponents.
IMAGINE this, you are Sonny Bill Williams and are about to confirm your allegiances to your country of birth. You get an anonymous call promising there $100,000 in it for you if you align with Australia instead. Scandalous right? Well this is what could happen if the NRL establishes the new Superannuation/Loyalty Scheme as planned. The NRL has announced their intention to introduce a super fund based on how many representative games players compete in. Associated with this is an understanding that the players will forfeit their fund if they switch codes.
THE NRL is currently discussing with club CEOs about potentially allowing club sponsors employ team members for services and pay these players outside of the salary cap. Each club will only be allowed two players under this scheme.
HUDDERSFIELD coach Jon Sharp is in hot water after using video footage to highlight apparent refereeing blunders during his post match press conference on the weekend. After his team?s 26-22 Challenge Cup loss to St Helens on Sunday, Sharp criticized referee Ronnie Laughton?s performance, aided by match footage played on his computer.
LEEDS Rhinos have continued their unbeaten run in defeating Salford 30-12 on the weekend, and are fast becoming the dominant team of this decade. In a period where the standard of their opposition is rising, Leeds? record speaks for itself. Since the start of the 2003 season, that is, in the last 58 games, they have lost eight and drawn five. Indeed the last time a Leeds player has faced defeat was some nine months ago. Can you remember what you were doing nine months ago? Neither can I.
DESPITE a range of drug scandals, a club in financial ruin and a quality player defecting to Rugby Union, English Superleague continues to thrive with crowds improving greatly in the first four rounds this year.
THE London Broncos are poised to fight on in English Superleague as they continue to battle opposing teams on a number of fronts. In the past month Broncos management has seen Wigan, Bradford, Leigh and Salford vote to eliminate the club from Superleague after the Bronco?s liquidation. To add to London?s problems, Vinnie Anderson abandoned negotiations in order to sign with St Helens, and Broncos contracted forward, Lee Hopkins, has reportedly been approached by Wigan.