Memorandum submitted by the British Amateur
Rugby League Association
1.1 The British Amateur Rugby League Association
was born out of necessity to avert the demise of amateur Rugby
League, and has been the catalyst for a dramatic increase in amateur
teams from 150 teams in 1973 to over 1,350 today, representing
approximately 35,000 players from the under-8 age group through
to the open age.
1.2 There are mixed teams of boys and girls
up to the under-11 age group and single sex teams at junior, youth
and open age levels thereafter.
1.3 Whilst the development of the women
and girl's game is still at an embryonic stage the progress made
is impressive and an area of huge potential for future development
1.4 Whilst the youth and junior game continues
to go from strength to strength with an increase of over 30 per
cent in the last seven years there has been a marked decline in
open age teams which is to be the subject of a review by the Association.
1.5 The amateur game is the proven nursery
of Rugby League talent and produces the overwhelming majority
of players for the professional game.
1.6 In many cases with a lack of adequate
facilities, the amateur game provides a remarkable service to
the local community and to the game itself, a service even more
crucial in areas of urban stress and deprivation in which many
of our clubs operate.
1.7 Through exemplary voluntary effort the
clubs successfully provide local sporting opportunities in particular
invaluable opportunities for local youngsters to play a sport
that promotes fitness, skill, discipline and a healthy lifestyle.
1.8 The contribution to the game of the
volunteer army cannot be overestimated. Figures taken from a Sport
England report show in excess of 15,000 volunteers in Rugby League
equivalent to an investment of over £21 million per annum
based on voluntary hours worked.
1.9 Relationships with the professional
game underwent a renaissance in October 1997 when BARLA and the
Rugby Football League (RFL) signed a 12-month Partnership Agreement.
The motivation behind the agreement was the commitment to a game-wide
development strategy under the auspices of a joint BARLA/RFL body,
the Rugby League Policy Board.
1.10 The agreement, which has been recently
superseded by a further five year agreement, has brought to an
end years of duplication and wasted resources that the game could
1.11 The Policy Board which includes representatives
from BARLA, RFL, Super League and the Premiership Clubs has made
rapid strides in identifying common services, a fine example being
the establishment of a single Coach Education Programme, where
previously there had been two schemes independently run by BARLA
and RFL respectively.
1.12 The Policy Board Development Strategy
will facilitate an infrastructure based on performance and mass
participation that will give the game the opportunity to realise
its full potential, an opportunity never previously afforded due
to the inconsistent relations between BARLA and the RFL.
1.13 Other areas of common interest include:
the establishment of a single player development model which will
demonstrate to every youngster coming into the game a clear pathway
of progression and the opportunities that are available to him/her;
a match official development programme to address the recruitment,
retention and performance of match officials and the establishment
of a facilities development strategy for the game.
1.14 Another major initiative under the
auspices of the Policy Board has been the formation of a BARLA/RFL
joint international youth team, the Great Britain and Ireland
Young Lions which has recently completed a two Test series against
France. The initiative will also ensure the strongest possible
team will be fielded against the World Youth Champions the Australian
Schoolboys when they visit these shores in December 1999.
1.15 Club-school liaison is at the heart
of amateur club development with school children, boys and girls,
from primary and secondary schools, feeding into the club prompted
by in-school coaching by club coaches.
1.16 The Policy Board Development Strategy
will aid the process of promoting participation in Rugby League
by way of provision of support structures, which will assist amateur
clubs in enhancing and sustaining links with schools.
1.17 The Development Strategy will also
be the catalyst for more Rugby League being played in schools
with the localised strategy also addressing issues of talent identification,
coach education, match official development and facility development.
1.18 From a financial point of view, prior
to the Partnership Agreement and the establishment of the Rugby
League Policy Board, the Rugby Football League had never actually
made any direct payment to BARLA for the specific running costs
of the Association's administration. The Rugby Football League
had previously funded posts applicable to both the Amateur and
Professional game, such as the Director of Coaching and National
Development officer, but had never contributed directly to the
running costs of the Association's work programmes.
1.19 BARLA's income has been derived in
the main from Sport England exchequer funding, affiliation fees
1.20 This situation changed with the onset
of the Rugby League Policy Board, and in the first BARLA financial
year of the Partnership Agreement the financial year commencing
1 April 1998 the RFL kindly donated a grant of £30,000 toward
the work programmes of BARLA and it is hoped that this arrangement
will continue into the future.
1.21 In the light of Policy Board work,
in particular the establishment of common services, the Association
had to reappraise its primary functions and has placed a major
emphasis on enhancing the support services to member clubs and
1.22 It is recognised that the RFL are currently
investing heavily in a variety of grass roots projects including
the National Conference League, the BARLA open age flagship league.
It is also recognised that the Rugby Football League is making
a major financial investment in the work of the Policy Board as
a compliment to the Sport England exchequer funding secured by
the Policy Board. Furthermore professional clubs invest in their
own grass roots initiatives.
1.23 Another tangible financial benefit
to the grass roots game promoted by the Policy Board has been
a major increase in the player compensation fee payable by a professional
club to the respective amateur club when a player signs a professional
contract. The fee previously a flat rate of £50 has been
increased to £500 and £250 for Super League and Premiership
1.24 It is intended that the Policy Board
will in future assume funding responsibilities with regard to
grass roots initiatives conducted under the auspices of the Board.
This will include the allocation of grass roots funding currently
conducted by the RFL.
1.25 BARLA feel strongly that any future
deals negotiated by the professional game with regard to broadcasting
and sponsorship agreements should include a percentage, set aside
for grass roots development with the monies to be channelled for
distribution by the Rugby League Policy Board.
1.26 BARLA's international programme has
included 31 Tours to and from the Southern Hemisphere since 1973
including tours to Tonga, Fiji, Western Samoa, Australia, including
a series against all-Aboriginal teams, South Africa, and Russia.
BARLA's pioneering work has recently been recognised by Affiliate
Membership of the newly formed Rugby League International Federation.
1.27 BARLA players and officials on outgoing
tours are required to pay a contribution of up to £1,200,
funds, which in the main are raised by BARLA clubs. Tours have
also been part funded by Sport England, which does not currently
apply due to other areas of the BARLA Development Plan being prioritised.
Furthermore international players are required to purchase their
playing strip and other items of clothing.
1.28 It is the hope of BARLA that this international
pioneering role is recognised by way of appropriate funding from
the levies of the International Federation.
1.29 The one concern for BARLA is the existence
of an independent administration at Super League level, which
appears to be superfluous to requirements. It appears to BARLA
that the administrative services provided by Super League could
be adequately absorbed by the RFL and it seems when monies are
in short supply it is a duplication the game can ill afford, particularly
at a time when BARLA and the RFL have rationalised their resources
in pursuit of a common streamlined strategy.
1.30 In conclusion relationships between
the two codes at grass roots level are cordial evidenced by many
examples of Rugby Union Clubs hosting major BARLA games at local
and national level together with an ever-increasing inter-change