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“I don’t know if Wakefield know more than us” – Championship head coach comments on big-spending Trinity

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Wakefield Trinity have raised eyebrows in recent weeks as they have unveiled a string of high-profile signings for the 2025 season. Now, the Toulouse Olympique head coach, Sylvan Houles, has questioned how they have been able to complete these deals without knowing whether they will be playing in Super League

Wakefield currently top the Championship table having won 12 from 12 at the start of the season. Trinity have announced multiple major signings for 2025 on the assumption that they will be promoted, including Tom Johnstone, Mike McMeeken, Cam Scott and Olly Russell.

Toulouse hold their own ambitions of winning promotion to Super League and the French side has begun to find their feet after a slow start to the Championship season.  They lost four of their opening six games, but have won six on the bounce to move back into third place in the table.

However, with the new IMG criteria coming into force for 2025, promotion will not be decided by on-field performance alone. This has led Houles to question how Wakefield can commit to these signings without knowing which division they will compete in next year.

Championship coach questions how Wakefield Trinity can build Super League squad

Credit: Imago Images

Speaking to BBC 5 Live Rugby League, Toulouse head coach, Houles, discussed the challenges faced by the clubs who are trying to achieve promotion to Super League.

Toulouse, whose Stade Ernest-Wallon hosts the international doubleheader between England and France this weekend, have serious ambitions of becoming a Super League club. However, under the IMG grading system they currently sit outside of the top 12 sides.

Houles has questioned how Wakefield Trinity are able to commit to their big transfers without knowing which league they will be playing in next year. Houles said:

“The only thing you can have is good Championship players, but you need to give them a Championship option and a Super League option.

“The players who are on the top tier, they’re not interested by that. I don’t know how Wakefield does it or if they know more than us but we don’t.”

Houles believes sides will learn promotion fate too late

Toulouse Olympique

Credit: Imago Images

Houles has also criticised the timeline around when teams will learn whether they are in Super League or not. Under the current plan, teams will not be informed of their division for next season until after the Championship Grand Final, which will be held on the weekend of the 19th and 20th October.

Houles believes this is too late, as it will give sides less time to prepare for the 2025 season when compared with the last time Toulouse were promoted ahead of the 2022 season.  Houles believes this will prevent sides from attracting talent, given a lack of certainty:

“Right now we have no idea. The only thing is we know we know that the date is going to be at the end of October so it’s worse than when we first got promoted.

“It’s two weeks later than when we were champion so it’s crazy. We don’t have any indicator, any indication.

“We have a plan a little bit to try to recruit players but there are no good players who are Super League players, or NRL players, who are going to tell us yes when there is no security.”

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Martin Clegg

    June 29, 2024 at 4:16 pm

    Wakefield already know they’re going into super League next season,they were guaranteed it before this season started. This season has been afarce for the rest of the championship clubs. IMG stinks, it’s all about money not the game of rugby league.

    • John

      June 30, 2024 at 7:03 am

      Sorry, but you’ve got it wrong. IMG is about ensuring the future of RL by putting more emphasis on secure financial footings and forward planning and trying to prevent the continual rise and fall of the smaller clubs – or even the bigger clubs – if you recall where Bradford Bulls were 20 years ago and where they are now. Witness also the financial problems at Featherstone who spent big in 2023 on the assumption they would get promotion and, having failed, are now struggling.
      As for this season being a farce for the rest of the championship, realistically, how many of them could expect the possibility of promotion. Even when a surprise pops up – as in London in the SL – that team just isn’t equipped to compete at that level. Only the poor performances by Hull are making the gap in standards to London look less embarassing.

  2. John

    June 30, 2024 at 6:52 am

    What is Houles talking about. Trinity are effectively guaranteed to be in SL next season. Their IMG scores were already good and with the new stand, and other developments, their score will be even better. It seems everyone knows this, except him.
    As for Toulouse learning their fate too late, the results of the grand final are included in the IMG scores for the season, so cannot be announced before it is played.

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