The RFL has outlined details of the dual-registration arrangements which have seen a number of Super League players selected by clubs in the Kingstone Press Championship in the opening weeks of the new season.
The system creates the option for clubs to enter into partnerships that allow Super League players to be dual-registered with a Championship club.
Whilst there is no limit to the number of players who can be dual-registered between partnered clubs, Championship clubs can select no more than five dual-registered or loan players in their 17-man squads on matchday.
This is a small increase on 2012, when Championship clubs were allowed a maximum of four loan or dual-registered players in any match.
Allied to the formation of an exclusively under-19s Academy in Super League, the new system is designed to ensure that talent development is maximised in the top division and that playing standards within the Championship are enhanced.
RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer said: “The new systems have been implemented following full consultation with the Super League and Championships clubs and I am sure that, after a ‘bedding in’ period, will start to deliver results.
“I understand the reservations that some people have expressed about the influx of Super League players into the Championship but it’s worth remembering that it is early days and we anticipate that the movement of players between the two competitions will stabilise over time.
“As is custom and practice in these situations , the system will be monitored and evaluated and revisited it is not seen to deliver its objectives.”
The introduction of an under-19s Academy for Super League and the expansion of the dual-registrations arrangements for 2013 follows a lengthy and comprehensive process that began in April 2012.
At a Super League clubs’ regulatory meeting on April 18, RFL Director of Performance and Coaching Jon Roberts was mandated to propose a Performance Pathway that would most effectively meet the best interests of the sport below Super League first team level.
The recommendation from the Performance Department was that from 2014 Super League clubs adopt a clearly defined player development system featuring an under-23s reserve team and an Academy at under-18 or under-19 level. For 2013, the RFL Executive recommended that Super League continue with an under-20s Academy to provide adequate preparation for the new structure.
These recommendations were subsequently rejected by the Super League clubs following a meeting at Huddersfield in July, when only three clubs supported the under-23s structure. Several clubs stated their preference for partnerships and dual registrations.
This option was put to the Championship clubs by the RFL Executive at a meeting at York on September 5 when it emerged that many clubs had already entered into discussions – and in some cases made formal arrangements - with Super League clubs about partnerships.
Following further consultation with all clubs, the RFL Board approved the overarching changes to the sports player pathway structures, including dual registration and partnerships, in late September.
RFL Director of Performance and Coaching Jon Roberts said: “The view of some Super League clubs was that the costs of running an under-23s Academy would be prohibitive whilst others stated their opinion that it was not an effective way of developing their players.
“A view was also expressed that they were not prepared to delay the changes further.”
‘A Guide to Partnerships’ detailing dual registration, partnership and the salary cap was circulated to all clubs in early November. This document highlighted some of the risks identified by the RFL Executive, including the possibility that some Super League clubs would have players who had nowhere to play.
“The systems we have in place for 2013 will see the Kingstone Press Championships enhanced by the presence of some very talented Super League club-trained players,” added Roberts.
“They will also allow Championships players to gain valuable experience with Super League clubs, be that in competitive action or from being in a fully professional training environment.
“The partnership between Wigan Warriors and South Wales Scorpions is a great example of how positive a development this could be.”