IMG’s rugby league plans suffer huge blow

The futures of clubs like Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and the rest of Super League but all the way down to League One is wrapped up in the hands of IMG and what they want to do with the sport.

They have introduced a grading system that places a focus on stadiums, facilities, supportership, social media presence and other factors.

They are trying to grow the sport and have identified London as a key area in their plans according to reports.

However, this could have been hurt by the fact London Skolars have left League One.

The RFL made the following statement:

“While it is disappointing to lose London Skolars from League One, their intention to play in the Southern Conference League in 2024 is welcome as it would add to the strength of that competition, and ensure that the Skolars continue to offer a playing and development opportunity in the Haringey and wider north London area.

“Discussions have already begun with the other League One clubs about the impact on their 2024 fixture list, with a range of options to be considered.”

Recently a defeat to Hunslet underlined the club’s struggles. Skolars fell to another defeat with Hunslet running in ten tries, although four of those came in the last ten minutes as Skolars tired.

An early break by Hunslet saw Matt Beharrell open the scoring for the South Leeds side. They added another try in the sixth minute when Adam Ryder went over in the corner. Skolars responded with Phil Lyon forcing a goal-line drop-out. The next set saw Lyon put another kick into the in-goal area, but his way was blocked by Beharrell who received a yellow card for the obstruction.

Abevia McDonald was held up over the line before Max Allen burst through the defence on the right to score.

Steve Crossley went over for Hunslet just before Beharrell returned from the sin-bin meaning Miles Lawford took over the kicking duties. Skolars forced another drop-out after Aaron Small had gone close, but they couldn’t break the defence and the home side went further ahead after Jonathan Campbell touched down. He nearly scored again after a break from deep in his own half before chipping the ball over the defence but Louis O’Sullivan got to the ball first.

Beharrell was making up for his earlier defence with some superb kicking, first a penalty kick that gained his side 50 metres with a 40-20 kick soon after. However, Hunslet’s next attack saw the ball go loose and it was picked up by Jamaican international Abevia McDonald and there was stopping him as he raced 85 metres to the line.

Lyon converted the try leaving Skolars twelve points behind at half-time, but it was Hunslet who scored first after the restart through Campbell, going further ahead when a break by Lawford was finished off by Jordan Syme. Aaron Small forced his way over for Skolars’ third try after debutant Jack Harbridge intercepted, Lyon’s conversion attempt hitting the post.

Lawford weaved his way through the Skolars’ defence from 40 metres out to score with ten minutes remaining. Campbell completed his hat-trick leaping to take the ball in the corner. Harbridge intercepted a second time, with Small continuing the run, but Skolars could keep the move going and tries for Joe Burton and Lewis Wray both converted by Beharrell rounded off the game.