What Is The Future Of Second Tier Rugby League In Australia?

Holden_Cup_LogoBy STEVE MASCORD

EVEN the people who conceived the Under 20s competition, now known as the Holden Cup, admit it’s not working.

At least, that’s the scuttlebutt in rugby league circles.

Sydney Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan was on a committee that came up with the formula for the NYC in 2008. He says the scuttlebutt isn’t exactly right.

But Canavan reckons the NYC wasn’t supposed to get as big as it has, pushing open age second tier competitions into the background.

“Within second tier footy, we need an underage competition, closed-age such as the NYC, and we need our state cups,” Canavan tells Steele Sports.

“We then get a two-pronged benefit. For the NYC, it’s all about recruitment and talent development and from the State Cup, open age, that’s where you have the heart of football.

“That’s where you cater for the later mature-ers or the players who’ve had pretty severe injuries on the way up, at 18 or 19 years of age, or the player who is backlogged behind senior players at NRL level.”

The reason open age competition has been left behind? “A very simple physical thing – the major stadia, including ours here at Allianz Stadium, said you could only have two games on match day.

“The good old days of three grades on match day disappeared. Then the NRL made a choice of having NYC on game day attached to the NRL.

“The consequence was that your open age state cups got pushed to the backblocks. I feel as though that was (bad).

“But it’s a very saleable product, NYC. It has appeal to the masses. There are as many good players come out of the State Cups as NYC.

“That re-enforces the fact that we need to have two strong second tier competitions. No other sport has that.”

Alas, the problem of stadia refusing to host three games on the same day will not go away. Next year, Canavan says, the situation from a fan’s perspective will “practically speaking, stay as it is.

“But I feel as though the game is poised to far better resource state cups. Through grants, participation criteria, more staff, more specialists, strength and conditioning staff, sports medicine people, improved management….”

Filed for: STEELE SPORTS

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