Having A National Reserve Grade Doesn’t Really Make Much Sense

There is a push right now for the NRL to have a national reserve grade competition, where each NRL club would have its own reserve grade team that would travel around the country, and to New Zealand, to play games against everyone else’s reserve grade team.

A basic look at the concept makes a bit of sense, but lets look closer.

Currently NRL clubs align themselves with either a NSW Cup or QLD Cup team, and uses that team as their reserve grade team. Some NRL clubs control their own reserve grade team, while others have to do deal with stand alone NSW or QLD Cup teams to have that relationship with them.

Having the NSW and QLD Cup as the effective reserve grade of the NRL has a couple of advantages.

First it cuts down on costs. It is a lot easier, and a lot less expensive, teams within your own state, rather than having to travel all over Australia or to New Zealand every weekend.

On top of that, the NSW and QLD Cup competitions not only allow some great clubs within the game to continue to be a very important part of the Rugby League structure, but as we saw recently with the Redcliffe Dolphins, it is the ideal stepping stone for any club looking to build itself up to a point where it can become an NRL club itself.

This set up works great for the game, and there’s really only a few clubs that have to go out of their way to align themselves with a stand alone club, the Melbourne Storm for instance. It has been made all the more better for the fact that the NSW and QLD Cup winners both play each other on NRL Grand Final day in a “Super Bowl” style showdown.

It would seem to me that this system, which we know works for many different reasons, don’t need to be superseded by a national reserve grade competition, but probably just needs a few tweaks so that clubs like the Melbourne Storm and New Zealand Warriors have true representation in one of these competitions.

If the QLD Cup can organise having a team from Papua New Guinea in their competition, surely the NSW Cup can sort out having the Melbourne Storm represented in theirs rather than by a QLD Cup club.

Of course, as always in Rugby League, politics, self interest and the need by lower level administrators you’ve probably never even heard of will push and pull in all sorts of different directions, and look to get an outcome in place that makes no sense when you look at the greater good of the game.

The NSWRL and QRL are both currently holding talks with NRL clubs for more funding in an effort to raise the salary cap in both the NSW and QLD Cup competitions, along with raising other standards for teams playing at that level.

Whether NRL clubs are open to the previous “Rugby League Pie” being split a little more slightly against them is anyones guess.

I would hope that the NSWRL and QRL both get their way. For now, their competitions are working great for the game, and I’d hate to see that messed with so that we end up with a homogenised NRL reserve grade competition that has no history, and is little more than a training run for players who don’t get a start in first grade each week.

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