Once upon a time there seemed to be a big number of trophies available to win when the Yorkshire Cup, John Player and Premiership were up for grabs. But nowadays there’s just three pieces of silverware which often go to the ultra-dominant teams.
We have Grand Final glory, the League Leaders’ Shield and the Challenge Cup but is that enough? Does that give other teams enough of a chance at claiming silverware? Perhaps not.
Since Super League began, we’ve only had four Grand Final winners. On top of that we’ve only seen a further three teams win the League Leaders’ Shield whilst teams like Hull FC, Catalans and Sheffield are the only other sides to win silverware in the shape of the Challenge Cup.
That means, since the beginning of the Super League only 10 teams have been able to win a trophy with the likes of Hull KR, Salford and Wakefield yet to win a major piece of silverware in the summer era.
All of this could be changed with the return of traditional tournaments like the County Cups or even the John Player. The introduction of another tournament would test the squad depth of clubs, provide younger players with more game time whilst giving the teams less likely to win the Grand Final a shot at silverware.
Moreover, it would create another key event in our sport’s calendar attracting new supporters and more publicity.
Football has always been able to balance four competitions in the shape of the League Cup, FA Cup, Premier League and the Champions League, so why can’t we?
All of these trophies have natural reflections in rugby league except the League Cup. It stands to reason then, that we could create our own equivalent to this and have four trophies available every season.
Furthermore, this would prompt the very best teams to go in search of the quadruple which would add new narratives to the season as it would force the top teams to rotate their squad even more. Imagine if during St Helens’ dominant campaign of 2019 Justin Holbrook had another trophy to play for. If he wanted a clean sweep, he’d have been forced to potentially play weakened teams in the league in search of success in the cups allowing the teams behind them to potentially catch up creating a more interesting race for the League Leaders’ Shield and adding more story threads to the campaign as a whole.
Ultimately, the introduction of a new competition would give mid-table teams more to play for and give other clubs a greater chance of winning silverware which would only help their development. Moreover, it would provide the game with another major event to promote whilst adding more to the season as a whole. It’s certainly worth considering.