RFL snub Sharlston with no Challenge cup invitation

BARLA National cup champions Sharlston Rovers will not be participating in the 2014 Tetleys Challenge cup competition in the new year. In a governing body u-turn the RFL have extended 44 invitations to community clubs but snubbed teams playing in traditional winter based competitions.

In the past several years entries into the early stages of the prestigious competition have been on merit with BARLA County Champions, BARLA regional league winners and BARLA National Cup champions joining the National Conference league sides along with representation from Services teams.

Sharlston Rovers who won all competitions they entered last season including the BARLA National cup, Yorkshire cup, Pennine league cup, Wakefield District cup and Pennine Premier division have been excluded from first round entry along with teams like Hunslet Old Boys and Thornhill Trojans who play in the Yorkshire cup final other the festive period.

Sharlston Rovers were eagerly awaiting inclusion in the competition in which they have history and romance. Back in 1946 Sharlston beat Workington Town in the competition and more recently in 2003 beat Dewsbury Rams to join a small list of Giant Killing community clubs.

Club Chairman Mick Taylor has been involved with the club for over 20 years and said “It’s the biggest snub we have ever had. The RFL are using this power to further their political differences with BARLA and the big divide between winter and summer rugby.”

A total of 44 community clubs have been invited in this seasons club competition with representatives selected from tier 3 and 4 of the RFLs revised game structure. The RFL have opened themselves up for critism by making the entry by invitation instead of qualification. Teams who find themselves on the outside looking in will be asking why their team isn’t included in favour of another team. For instance in the 4th tier only the Summer competitions are represented with Cumbria Men’s League champions Walney Central, Harry Jepson Trophy Winners, South West London Chargers and 2 representative from Lancashire North West Men’s League champions Halton Simms Cross and the Widnes St Marie’s.

Club Secretary Jamie Hobbs said “There doesn’t seem to be any apparent transparency in the invitation selection process. Some competitions are represented fully, some partially and some not at all. What is obvious though is the exclusion of Hull and Yorkshire teams playing in the traditional winter 4th tier of the game.”

“We were looking forward to playing in the competition this season and was using the Challenge cup as motivation to kick start our season in the new year. Winning a clean sweep of all trophies last season and going on past qualification routes into the competition we were sure we would be included in this years competition. The press release came as a complete bombshell and I question the timing of the announcement. It seems the RFL issued the news on the eve before breaking for the Christmas period knowing full well that the fallout from the announcement would fall on deaf ears. It’s certain that nothing will be done about the snub before the draw on week commencing January 6th but we will be talking with our governing body BARLA, the Pennine league and with other member clubs who have been ignored.”