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Post by Steve Manning on Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:41 am

It appears that the editor of the Rugby Leaguer & League Express is against us in this weeks editorial, do the rest of you agree with is article.


Someone gave me a startling statistic the other day.

Apparently two-thirds of amateur clubs around the country are no longer full members of BARLA

Can you believe that?

It seems that many amateur and junior clubs and leagues are sick to the back teeth of the politicking that is all pervasive in the BARLA organisation, which seems unwilling to accept that it is no longer a governing body of its own accord, but now part of the RFL, which is the only governing body for Rugby League in this country.

BARLA has a seat on the Rugby League Council, and it is represented on the RFL Community Board, which administers the wider amateur game across all sectors.

When the 'merger' took place between the RFL and BARLA, the RFL took on all BARLA's liabilities, and the benefits that accrue from that move can be seen, for example, when qe note that every away team in the early rounds of the Challenge Cup is given a travel grant of £500.

The BARLA management needs to learn to work with, not against, the games governing body."

Now that us well and truly told and we should do as we are told by an autocratic organisation and be very good and thankful and grateful for our crumbs from our masters!!!

So what do you think as artyn Sadler says CAN BARLA SURVIVE?

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Post by Hammer 13 on Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:13 am

Morning Steve,

I see that on Martyn Sadler's article, he states that away teams received a £500 travel grant in the early rounds of the challenge cup.

So that's where the £29,000,000 is going, on the buses.

I'm not aware of how many £500's were dealt out, but surely the money would be better used for junior development, or isn't that as glamourous as the challenge cup.

He also stated that with the merger, RFL took on all BARLA's liabilities ... what liabilities?

Can BARLA survive, lets have another post from Shadowman on that subject.

Last edited by Hammer 13 on Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:07 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Coshida on Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:31 am

So when did 60% of the clubs that BARLA do represent become two thirds that they dont?

That article is laughable!

Look what we did!!!

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CAN BARLA SURVIVE? Empty Lest we forget

Post by Swordfish on Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:00 am

A search of what BARLA is defined as by Wikipedia is below!

Maybe we should remeber why it was formed and what it has attained in the last 35 years. Just because it is having a difficult time we should not abandon it, we should help it get well again. I urge you not to listen to propaganda in the media or from the RFL.


BARLA was created in 1973 in Huddersfield by a group of enthusiasts concerned about the dramatic disappearance of many amateur leagues and clubs. Fewer than 150 amateur teams remained with a mere thirty youth rugby league teams. The 'breakaway' from the RFL was acrimonious and was strongly contested with a vote 29-1 against recognising BARLA. Thanks to Tom Mitchell, this changed to an unanimous vote of approval for BARLA within twelve months.
In 1977 BARLA toured Australia and New Zealand for the first time. In that year the BARLA Young Lions made their first inaugural tour setting a lasting trend by giving future stars of the game such as David Hobbs their first taste of international rugby league.
The BARLA National League first took place in the 1986/1987 season with 10 teams.
The association has always been a champion of the amateur ethos and in 1987 BARLA played a major role in the establishment of the 'free gangway' between the two codes at amateur level. The agreement allowed players to inter-change between rugby league and rugby union without fear of discrimination.
The BARLA National League added a second division in 1989.
On the 30th November 1990, BARLA's new headquarters at West Yorkshire House, Huddersfield was opened by Queen Elizabeth II.
In 1993, BARLA provided the first Great Britain team to tour South Africa. The BARLA National League was rebranded the National Conference League and expanded to three divisions (now named premier, first and second) in 1993.
By 1999, there were more than 1,400 teams and 900 youth and junior teams. On an average weekend in the season, almost 23,000 players will be in action.
BARLA's work in the international expansion of the game was recognised by their inclusion as affiliate members of the International Federation (equivalent to the International Board at the time) in 1999 and by BARLA's inclusion in the Emerging Nations World Championship in 2000.

[edit] Role

BARLA runs many leagues, mainly based in the 'heartland' areas of the sport (Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria). The top division under their control is the National Conference League, with regional leagues including the North West Counties and Pennine leagues.
BARLA selects an international team consisting of amateur players, the BARLA Lions. This team tours many parts of the rugby league world, and have competed in the Rugby League Emerging Nations Tournament. The association have made 31 tours to and from the Southern Hemisphere. These include pioneer visits to Fiji, Western Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands and South Africa. In the Northern Hemisphere games have been played against Moldavia, Russia, Morocco and the USA.

Service areas

BARLA divides itself into service areas which are defined by local authority or county sports partnership boundaries depending on their geographical location. Each service area is managed by a steering group at which all rugby league agencies in the area and other appropriate partners are represented.


North West Allerdale, Barrow & South Lakes, Copeland and Eden

North West

Halton, Lancashire, Rochdale, Oldham, Salford, St Helens, Warrington & Cheshire, Wigan & Leigh


Bradford, Calderdale, Hull, Kirklees, Leeds, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Wakefield


London & South East, North East, Scotland, Wales

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Post by DiDeDi on Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:36 am

Good point Swordfish the problem is a large number of people forget or are unaware why BARLA was first formed and will say we get everything rom the Rugby League Services.

They also forget what they got before that dreaded day of unification and that basically BARLA employers became RFL employers continuing to do the same services that they did when they were employed by BARLA.

All the RFL has done is put their spin on those and also duplicated BARLA's awards and volunters system. They also took over the BARLA Bulletin and the spin doctors took over.

Everything the Rugby League Services do are what they have to do on behalf of BARLA, BARLA Leagues and BARLA clubs, but they wouldn't tell you that would they!!!!!

The only thing is that when they they send out any booklets, posters, literature or directives which are on behalf of us to promote the amateur game were it affects BARLA Leagues and clubs they don't put the BARLA logo on only the RFL with there slogan 'Its a whole new ball game'

It certainly is, we're not mentioned and we're not consulted at the initial stage on any matters that effect its partners BARLA its nomally just on BARLA's toes at the last minute before a Community Board meeting!!!

As sam says elsewere on the forum 'Its good to talk' are you listening RFL

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Post by the hooker on Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:59 am

Swordfish wrote:A search of what BARLA is defined as by Wikipedia is below!

Maybe we should remeber why it was formed and what it has attained in the last 35 years. Just because it is having a difficult time we should not abandon it, we should help it get well again. I urge you not to listen to propaganda in the media or from the RFL.

reading the piece on wikipedia, reminded me (and hopefully some other "oldies" out there) as to why BARLA was set up in the first place.
having the RFL in charge of the amateur game was an unmitigated disaster in the past.
too much was conceded to the RFL at "unification" and that is one of the reasons why the leadership of BARLA changed hands.
Allison and Co, have got the backs of the RFL up, but isn't that one of the reasons why he was voted into the chair position was because his predecessor gave too much away?
Didn't we all vote for a more hardline approach to stop unification from turning into devouring?

As shadowman said in his excellent article, BARLA is ours,
we don't have to like the king, but we all should rally around the throne when it's very existence is at stake.

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Post by Carole Land on Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:45 pm

This is a response Trevor made, which was to the questionare issued by Alistair Gray of genesis before Unification,

unfortunately I no longer have the questions, but the answers speak for themselves.

Response to the questionnaire issued by Alistair Gray

1 Vision to beat the Australians

Goals to gain control of all available public funding and sponsorship

Objectives to remove BARLA from the scene to give them unrestricted access to
All Funding

2 Vision to be the centrepiece of an Association of amateur clubs & leagues

Goals to develop the amateur came to the benefit of all amateur players
Whatever there ability

Objectives to retain their independence and control the amateur game to the benefit
of its members

3 Due to interference by sport England and the RFL the paid staff at
BARLA are between the devil & the deep blue sea but under the
Present Circumstances they work well

4 The RFL are hell bent on taking over the management of BARLA and imposing
There own brand of dictatorial management and giving no thought to the wishes

of the clubs & leagues which are BARLA

5 The concept based on the initial road shows to put the idea to the amateur clubs of
Being the way forward for Coach & Player development seamed at the time to be sound.

But it as now moved on to been the tool, which the RFL wishes to control the amateur game.
I have first hand knowledge being the Kiklees Service Area Volunteer Coordinator for Three Years
and only resigned when I became disgusted with the way we were being instructed not consulted
on the way things will be run by the RFL development department who have little or no knowledge
of the amateur game. They only cater for elite players and have no place for those that will never
make it into the professional ranks. Without these players the game will disappear

6 If the RFL & BARLA are to remain unified it is essential that the RFL stop trying to
Interfere in the running of BARLA and that BARLA retains its independence and any

changes that need making are made by mutual consent

7 For BARLA to retain its independence and continue to expand and prosper

8 I would be one of the first to agree that there needs to be changes. The clubs who are the lifeblood of the game need financial assistance. All of the public funding available at the moment is directed to governing bodies and never reaches the clubs perhaps a way could be found to fund them direct by annual grants to help with running costs

9 By the leagues doing what they do now providing the structure which makes the game accessible to all regardless of ability (self funding) The following is a quote from my own clubs constution The aim of the club is to help and educate boys & girls though their leisure time activities so to develop their physical, mental and spiritual capacities that they may grow to full maturity as individuals and members of society and that their conditions of life may be improved

Trevor C Land Administrator Treasurer Batley Boys & Girls ARLFC

Ex Secretary, management member Yorkshire Youth League

MemberYorkshireCounty management committee

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Post by Marauder on Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:47 pm


The Way Forward

Objectives of the Review:

Genesis Consultants were engaged to facilitate a review of BARLA and the RFL a year after unification, with the following key objectives:

· To engage the sport of rugby league, and BARLA in particular, to determine the best future organisation for the sport at grass roots level

o Especially as it relates to the sustainability of the amateur game

· To review the effectiveness of current organisations in growing the sport’s playing base

· To develop options for the future organisation of the sport

o Especially the focus, future role and responsibilities of BARLA

· To develop clear recommendations for a new organisation

Approach to the Review:

A Project Group was formed to drive the review. The members of this group were:

· Richard Lewis – Executive Chairman, RFL

· Maurice Oldroyd – Chairman, BARLA

· David Waite – Director of Performance, RFL

· Gary Tasker – Director of Development and Marketing, RFL

· Carole Land – Secretary, BARLA

· Neil Wood – National Development Manager, RFL

· Alistair Gray – Managing Director, Genesis

· Sheila Gray – Consultant, Genesis

Very one sidded Project Group [/size]

[size=12]A robust programme of research and consultation was undertaken, consisting of:

· Desk research

o Constitutions; Board and Committee Minutes; other relevant papers; newspaper articles

· Interviews

o More than 50 interviews (including all those requested by BARLA), face to face and/or telephone

I wonder who the 50+ where

· Meetings

o With the BARLA Board of Management

· 3 Open Space Meetings

o Cumbria; Yorkshire; Lancashire

· Sport England personnel

· Richard Caborn, Minister for Sport

Key Issues from the Consultation

The summary findings were as follows:

· Most people want unification, greater integration, a well organised game and less noise

· Despite unification, there is still significant confusion and disquiet amongst BARLA members about what unification/sovereignty means in practice and how funds are allocated from the RFL

· The majority of development of Rugby League is now carried out by the Community Development Department of the RFL. Their work is valued by many people in the game

· BARLA’s organisation is considered by many to be cumbersome, unwieldy and does little proactively to develop and grow the amateur game nationally

· BARLA represents a shrinking part of amateur Rugby League as other parts of the country develop leagues and clubs outside the BARLA framework e.g. RLC, Students, Schools

RLC was built on the back of BARLA teams outside the heartlands, the student and English schools where all part of BARLA until the RFL targetted them (just like they are doing now with the NW Juniors and NCL)

· RFL is perceived to focus on the top end of the game and be dominated by the professional clubs

- Each of the professional clubs is a member of the RFL and has the right to send a representative to the RL Council; BARLA sends 3 representatives; and the Schools, Students and Combined Services each send one

· Frustration has been expressed at the failure to secure a resolution to the friction around the issue of Youth Rugby, despite widespread support for the proposal presented by David Waite. Speedy resolution of this long-running issue has been identified as a key test of unification and the integrated structure

There were a number of conclusions that related to BARLA’s structure:

· Its current structure is cumbersome and slow

- Large Management Board

§ Elected as representatives

§ Operational, rather than strategic

· General Assembly of up to 84 people, with 42 votes, which meets frequently and can overturn committee and board recommendations/decisions.

· Since there is no empowerment of the Board, all decisions have to ratified, which takes a long time and often results in actions being watered down to gain agreement

This looks like a statement to take AWAY your democratic vote away

· Lack of clarity about roles, responsibilities and accountability

· Real grass roots frustration with politics at the top

In contrast, the overall RFL structure has been streamlined and modernised:

· RFL Board

- Richard Lewis - Executive Chairman

- Finance Director

- 3 Non-Executive Directors, with experience and expertise in business, the media and the law

· RL Council, which delegates its powers to the Board and meets 5 times a year

- 38 representatives of the members of the RFL

§ BARLA has 3; SLE has 12

The above streamlined committee has 58 members who at the end of the day has no say (Executives have the final say)

· RFL Executive Structure

- Executive Chairman + Executive Management Team

§ Directors of Development; Coach Education; Marketing; Performance; Finance

§ Technical Executive; Operations Executive; HR Manager

§ MD of BARLA (or appropriate executive) <--- sarcastic

The Open Space meetings were a unique opportunity to gather the views of members of the sport. The key messages from the three meetings were:

· Broad support for unification and shared vision and goals

· Concern for the funding of the grass roots of the game

Strong interest in juniors.

Consultation with Sport England personnel clarified their position:

· Sport has developed considerably since the 1970s <--thanks to BARLA

- No distinctions now made between professional and amateur

§ All are athletes taking part in sport

· Whole sport planning is required

· The key watchwords of Sport England are: Start, Stay, Succeed

- Governing Bodies must modernise and present clear whole sport plans before further investment is made

- Governing Bodies must be accountable

· RFL is recognised as the governing body for Rugby League

- It is seen by Sport England as making a significant investment in both grass roots and elite

· Rugby League is rated as a top-ten priority sport. As such, it can access considerable funding, provided:

- Comprehensive plans, with clear planned outcomes, are presented and agreed

- It must be seen to be growing the game nationally

Richard Caborn, the Minister for Sport, said that he wants more unification, not less

· Government policy is to strengthen clubs and school/club links

· Rugby League has a great opportunity. It is a top ten priority sport, in line to benefit from all Sport England initiatives as part of their whole sport planning approach

· RFL is the recognised governing body for rugby league. It must give the lead, since all funding will be directed through the RFL

Vision of Future Success
The composite vision to emerge from the Open Space Meetings was:

· GB Team Number One in the World

· Rugby League as a national sport

· Everyone in Rugby League working together to achieve its goals

· Higher profile/image of Rugby League

· Financial stability/sustainability.

The Project Group largely agreed with this vision and considered a range of options for the future organisation of the sport that could best deliver it. After much consideration and debate, the group developed a proposed structure that they will present for your consideration at an open, whole sport meeting on 9 May 2004 in Bradford which we shall be delighted if you could attend.

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Post by Big Bad Bri on Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:47 am

Some great posts

Too much was conceded at time of unification, but it has to be said, the pressure on the Board of management at the time was clearly intense

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Post by Lee Marchant on Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:17 am

If somebody from the RFL, would like to put their side of the debate across,

they are more than welcome to post.

I assure you that you will be respected on here, and indeed welcomed.

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Post by Sam Armstrong on Sat Feb 14, 2009 2:32 am

In reply to Steve Manning's initial question I fear the answer is "No".

I base this on the fact that, in our own League, in full view of the BARLA Chair & Youth Chair, nearly 50% of our Clubs (at our age-groups ... we cannot speak for older or younger ones) voted to leave the Association completely.

These coaches/players/parents are the future of the Association and that level of discontent should be a long needed wake up call for the Association to act before it's too late, discontented numbers increase and the balance finally tipped. I now note in "Latest News" that West Cumbria has also reflected a 50% level of discontent with Full Membership ... why can't those in charge show some reaction? Sad

It's now over two weeks since our meeting and has anyone from the Board come back with anything positive?? Again, sadly not, instead we get the usual paranoid posts about "Big Brother" RFL trying to destroy the Association ... sorry guys, the problem is closer to home. Unfortunately, to external bodies and individuals, this response from some Board Members is merely seen as a paranoia fuelling smoke-screen put there in a vain attempt to simply try and deflect responsibility for their own failings whilst desperately trying to cling to their own positions.

People want positivity, not negativity, from the Board.
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