Adam Cuthbertson: Player representation needed at game’s decision-making level

St James's Park hosted the Magic Weekend in May.
St James's Park hosted the Magic Weekend in May.
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EVERYTHING THAT’S happened recently, with all the arguing about rugby league’s future and then the new structure announced last week, really flags up one thing for me: we need a players’ association.

What I know about the new structure comes from what I’ve read. Nobody has actually sat down and explained things to us as players.

Action from Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos this season.

Action from Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos this season.

We are the ones who go out every week and play the game and I think it makes sense to give us a say in how it is run.

I feel if we had a players’ association and players could express themselves on how they feel, the sport should develop going forward and it would be better for the game.

I’ve got mixed feelings about the changes that are coming in next year.

I’ve said in this column before I am not a big fan of the current structure, the Super-8s.

When there was all that talk about scrapping the Super-8s and bringing in a new structure I thought it would be one that makes the game stronger, not dilutes it.

Adam Cuthbertson

I’ve experienced both sides of it, at the top of the Super-8s and the bottom in the Qualifiers – and I don’t think it promotes our sport in the best possible way.

I’m also not a fan of relegation.

I would hate to see any club get relegated, I think it causes too much uncertainty, but if you are going to have promotion and relegation what they are doing from next season is probably the fairest way.

The bottom club goes down and the top team in the Championship comes up.

That’s how it is done in most sports in this country and everyone knows how it works.

For me, it is fairer than a team that finishes ninth in Super League potentially being relegated and one that finishes fourth in the Championship having a chance of going up.

Toronto finished well clear in the Championship this season and, for me, if they don’t get into Super League for next year that will be a missed opportunity because of the crowds they attract and how much they have bought into being a competitive side and a professional organisation.

I’d like to see the stronger teams come up from the Championship, but it has to be based on what they are doing on and off the field.

The organisation has to be strong enough to sustain a Super League club.

So, at a push, I think one-up, one-down is fairer than the Super-8s.

I also like the top-five play-offs; I think that’s a good format that works.

A 12-team comp’, with everyone playing all the other sides home and away is good too.

I like the Magic Weekend, which I think really promotes the game if it is done right, but what I don’t understand is the six extra fixtures.

When there was all that talk about scrapping the Super-8s and bringing in a new structure I thought it would be one that makes the game stronger, not dilutes it.

That’s what playing teams more than twice does.

If you play each other just once home and away it creates more hype and keeps the fans interested. It also means games are more intense.

The Easter weekend is a good example.

Every year everyone complains about the standard dropping in the second match.

If you play 30 games in a season the quality is not going to be as good as if you play only 22 or 23 – as I’ve said, I would keep the Magic Weekend.

Next year we could still play one team four times in the league and then there’s the Challenge Cup and play-offs on top of that.

From what I understand, the clubs who don’t get big crowds want three extra home games to make up their income.

But, to me, it should be all about two things – getting the game right on the field and marketing it properly off it.

If you have intense games, the fans will come along and good marketing on top will boost crowds even more.

Playing 30 fixtures and some teams three or four times won’t achieve that.

I don’t like talking about what the NRL do, but if it works it is worth looking at.

They have fewer games there and no repeat fixtures and the draw is set in stone.

Over here you are in limbo for much of the time because you don’t know for sure when games are going to be played.

Preparation is important and shifting matches at short notice does affect the players so it’s another thing the ‘powers that be’ should think about if they want to make the game better.