Cornwall RLFC

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Reimagining Rugby League – Update

April 5, 2023

Clubs and other members of the Rugby League Council have today been informed of changes to the club grading criteria for the Reimagining Rugby League proposals, under which clubs will be rewarded for the extent of their community engagement. 

Following extensive consultation with clubs and community rugby league representatives in the weeks since the proposals were first presented to Council on March 9, the Catchment category has been renamed “Community” and will include points under the proposed model for clubs’ positive impact in the communities in which the sport is based and played. 

Such activity will be worth up to 2.5 points of the maximum 20 on offer and therefore carries a significant impact, and will now combine each club’s fanbase potential with a rating for their foundation – the charitable bodies linked to clubs which drive much of their community and participation activity. 

This will be measured on the foundation’s turnover, with a maximum of 1 point available – and the previous Catchment category now worth a maximum of 1.5 points (having previously been up to 2 points). 

The Finance pillar will now carry a maximum of 4.5 points, compared to the original 5.

There has also been a small amendment to the Digital section of the Fandom pillar, with a greater emphasis on overall engagement.

In addition, details of the Minimum Standards that will support the club grading criteria have been circulated – with further details to be supplied to clubs via conference call next Wednesday (April 12), before a meeting of the Rugby League Council votes on whether to accept the recommendations on April 19. 

These standards have been broken down into eight categories, including Community Game Development – requiring clubs to have a registered Foundation and an engaged Community Development Plan to be graded A or B – and Talent and Performance Pathway, which will also be necessary to be graded A or B, with a Women’s team required for a Grade A Talent and Performance Pathway as well as complying with the Player Welfare Policy. 

There are also Minimum Standards around Anti-Doping, Environmental Sustainability and compliance with Rugby League’s Professional Club Governance Code – which includes Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Clubs can lose grading points for failing to comply with the standards, while the remaining three categories cover breaches of the Operational Rules (including Salary Cap), of other regulations, or the existing Insolvency Policy – again, with penalties stipulated.

After the changes were announced, Tony Sutton, the RFL’s chief executive officer, said: “The RFL and RL Commercial are grateful to clubs and other Council members for their constructive engagement since the proposals were presented last month. 

“Throughout the process, we have worked with our strategic partner IMG to keep stakeholders informed – including supporters through the media and our own digital channels. 

“Our aim for the period since the proposals were first presented has been simple – that going into the vote, clubs will be making an informed choice.  

“As a result of feedback, we have worked with IMG to amend the club grading criteria to provide greater recognition for clubs’ engagement with their communities through their Foundations – which strengthens the category previously known as Catchment. 

“The development of Foundations has been one of the great successes of Rugby League in recent years – enhancing the contribution the sport makes in the communities in which it is established – so it is absolutely right that this is now included in the criteria. 

“The Minimum Standards underpin the club grading criteria – we have been working with clubs to introduce such standards in recent years, and this process helps us embed best practice that clubs currently show with the aim of raising standards more widely to the advantage of the sport as a whole. 

“Crucially, this process remains democratic as well as informed and transparent. The clubs and other Council members will decide later this month whether or not the sport accepts the recommendations that overwhelmingly last Autumn we as a game asked IMG to develop for us and bring forward. We look forward to dialogue continuing over the coming weeks.”