Once again there’s talk of restructuring Super League. Whether it’s the radical 10-team league which is making the rounds, the removal of relegation and promotion or the expansion of the top flight, everyone appears to have an idea about the natural next step for the league.
All of that’s up for debate, but what isn’t is the fact there’s plenty of Super League calibre clubs in the second tier these days. It’s turned the Championship into an exhilarating competition this term and produced one of the greatest games of the year in the 1895 Cup Final.
So, as the battle for promotion hots up in the Championship and structuring discussions persist, we’re looking at five Super League calibre clubs currently in the Championship.
Where better to start than the top of the Championship table? It’s been clear for a number of years that Toulouse are a very competitive team one who’s slowly begun to dominate the Championship. They’ve flirted with Super League in the past having played in the Middle 8s back in 2018. However, they’re yet to make the leap into the top flight. The quality of player they’re able to attract and their formidable form at home means they’re more than deserving of a spot in Super League and the success of Catalans this term proves another French side could excel in the top tier. Imagine a world where Super League can play host to a French derby – what a place that would be.
I miss Bradford. The Bulls added something to Super League that it’s missed ever since their relegation in 2014. They were another high-profile name, a big club and an eye-catching side. Once upon a time they were one of the most well-known clubs in the world and now they dwell in the second tier. As representatives of a big city, they already tick one box and their history and previous pedigree is that of a Super League side. They were World Champions just 15 years ago and that kind of magnitude is something that would only add to Super League, as would the return of the Leeds-Bradford derbies – a big occasion we no longer see these days.
The City Knights have serious intent. Yes, they may have lost the 1895 Cup Final but the calibre of player they’ve attracted this season showcases just how serious they are about improving. They now have the likes of Adam Cuthbertson and Ryan Atkins in their squad which shows just how big of a side they’re becoming. They’re representing another big location where the potential of rugby league remains untapped. I’d love to see them in Super League one day.
Super League needs a team from the capital. First and foremost, they stop the sport from being trapped in the North but, on top of that, when you stop and think about the brilliant players in Super League who started out at London – such as Challenge Cup winner Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook – it’s clear that they could produce a superb side. Right now, youngsters in London don’t have a Super League side to strive to play for and that needs to change. I’m still disappointed they got relegated in 2019 given they clearly added something to the competition that season and were serious competitors for survival.
When Featherstone were vying for the open Super League spot last season plenty scoffed at the notion. I don’t know why. In a post-dual-reg world they’ve established a formidable squad themselves and are yet to lose in the Championship this season. They’ve now added a trophy to their growing list of achievements in the shape of the 1895 Cup and are a club who’s worked hard to turn themselves into a force in the Championship. I’d expect them to do the same in Super League.