Traditionalists vs expansionists? Why can’t there be room for everyone?
If you believe everything you read on social media – which I’d strongly urge you not to – this weekend’s Championship Grand Final between Toulouse and London Broncos is either the best thing to ever happen to the sport or the worst thing since Joe Westerman took a wander behind Greggs.
But, what if the answer’s actually neither?
Would Featherstone Rovers have been such a bad addition to Super League? A club with fanatical supporters and a line-up that includes internationals and NRL Grand Final winners doesn’t sound too bad to me.
Cast your mind back 12 months, and most RL fans were turning their noses up at Leigh’s promotion. ‘Just a bus stop in Wigan’ was the usual putdown, along with countless others, but who’s laughing now? Record crowds, entertaining rugby, a squad packed with talent, and of course, a Challenge Cup victory, too.
Who knows? Maybe ‘Fev’ could’ve done the same thing in 2024 if they’d got over the line, but as it is, it’ll be London or Toulouse joining Leigh in the top flight next year.
Cue the usual criticism. ‘Rugby League has tried and failed in London for too long’, ‘There shouldn’t be any French clubs in Super League, let alone two of them’, and so it goes on.
How about, we stop moaning and just embrace the possibilities for next season? Do I think the Broncos will suddenly attract bigger crowds in 2024 if they’re promoted? No. But then again, I didn’t think Leigh would lift the Challenge Cup, so anything’s possible, and the fact they’ve even made it to this point is a minor miracle in itself given all the dramas the club has gone through.
And if it’s Toulouse who find themselves in the top flight next year, then I’ll definitely be eyeing up a little away day in France, and trying to tick off another ground and another city. And who knows, maybe they’ll establish themselves to the point of generating a strong rivalry with Catalans that could get more French people talking about the game.
The possibilities are endless, so rather than dismiss Featherstone for being a tiny village in Yorkshire, writing London off as a failed experiment or getting annoyed that Toulouse will be a more expensive than usual away day, why don’t we just embrace the fact there are clubs competing and playing the game, wherever they’re based.
Anything’s possible, just look at Leigh.