Wigan Warriors, Leeds Rhinos and St Helens have led the way with academies and the production of young players for years and now the likes of Warrington Wolves, Hull FC and Hull KR are trying to compete with them.
The importance of academies is underlined by the success of Wigan, Leeds and St Helens as well as the way Castleford Tigers and Bradford Bulls battled for their Elite Academy Licence.
In this year’s academy final, Wigan and St Helens were supposed to collide but Wigan have been kicked out of the final for making 12 substitutes instead of eight in the semi-final against Warrington who will now replace them.
Serious About Rugby League understands that the confusion comes from the fact that in regular season games there are unlimited subs to protect potentially injured players but in semi-finals the eight substitute rule is introduced.
Former official Richard Silverwood slammed it as “embarrassing for the club and the officials.”
Warrington made the following statement:
“Warrington Wolves Academy will now be St Helens’ opponents in this Sunday’s Academy Grand Final.
“The RFL Board have ruled that Wigan Warriors cannot play in this weekend’s Academy Grand Final after it emerged that they made 12 interchanges in last weekend’s Semi Final against Warrington Wolves – four more than the limit of eight.
“Wigan won the game 18-12, but the RFL Board have ruled that Warrington should be reinstated to play St Helens in Sunday’s Final at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
“The judgement contains the following explanation:
“‘Clearly, this is a difficult decision to reach. The Board recognises the emotion on all sides here and especially the impact on everyone involved.’
“The Grand Final takes place at The Totally Wicked Stadium this Sunday 24 September, 2pm.
“Tickets are priced at £5 for adults, £3 concessions and £2 for Under 16s. Supporters can enter the stadium by heading to the North Stand/North East section of the stadium and using Turnstiles 21-24 which will be open from 1pm.”
One thing this statement highlights is the fact that Warrington only have a matter of days to prepare.
The statement was made on Friday and the final is on Sunday which is obviously not ideal preparation for a final but the Wolves will have to make do and try and find a way to defeat the Saints who have had a monopoly over academy rugby for a while.