Leeds Rhinos legend Barrie McDermott wants Toulouse Olympique to be exempt from Super League relegation

Promotion and relegation is always a debate in rugby league.

Except for a three-year hiatus when licensing was introduced, it has formed the backbone of the sport ever since Super League was created in 1996.

But, in one special year, one Super League team was exempt from relegation in a bid to ensure their stability for years to come: Catalans Dragons.

Of course, the French side may not have been where they are now if the ruling had not gone in their favour back in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Unfortunately, it also meant that the second bottom in Super League was instead relegated for three years running.

Wind the clock forward to 2022 and the same argument is being made: should Toulouse be exempt? – Leeds Rhinos legend Barrie McDermott certainly thinks so.

“I am a big banger of the drum of Toulouse and Catalans and those two French sides – I’m delighted that they are both in,” McDermott spoke on the Eddie and Stevo podcast.

“I wish we would have made some little rule and safeguarded Toulouse because the first season is always the hardest.

“Just like Catalans I wish they would have given them three years grace instead of the likes of Celtic Crusaders and Toronto Wolfpack.”

It is a big area of debate for rugby league fans with some wanting normal promotion and relegation and others vying for two French teams in the competition.

Last week, all clubs met with IMG for the first time in a bid to discuss strategy going forward and there was reportedly comments from Huddersfield Giants about the value of having two French teams in Super League.

Well, following a gritty 13-12 win over the Giants, Catalans head coach Steve McNamara had this to say on the subject: “There is talk this week of Huddersfield saying French teams give nothing to the game in talks with IMG and that French teams should not be in the Super League competition, which is an absolute disgrace.”

However, outspoken Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont has revealed that it wasn’t only Huddersfield that took exception to the value of having French teams in the top flight during the meeting.

Beaumont tweeted: “Wasn’t only Huddersfield. I was vocal as always and all bar 1 in the room I was in saw no COMMERCIAL value from all those years! 1 person aptly pointed out we give £4m to 2 french clubs and only £2m to the whole of champ and champ1! Which contributes most back to the game?”

With IMG set to change the sport of rugby league forever as we know it, only time will tell how the company goes about doing that, but it’s clear there is set to be a mammoth divide before things can get sorted.

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