Batley boss Matt Diskin has criticised the rugby league authorities for not paying enough respect to competitions below Super League.
Diskin’s Bulldogs side will travel to Toulouse tomorrow for the third time this season – something he believes is a ridiculous expectation placed on part-time clubs.
“I am really struggling for players this week due to them having to utilise holidays or take unpaid leave, some of them can’t afford do that, they have bills to pay,” said Diskin.
“I just don’t see how it is practical or reasonable to expect part-time clubs to sustain this.
“Regarding the competition next year, there’s Toronto, Toulouse and potentially Catalans in there and I don’t see how the RFL can expect part-time teams to accommodate for it.
“I’m not saying that having teams such as Toulouse in the competition isn’t good for the game, but I do think we sometimes do things at the expense of clubs back home, and those who have a lot of history with rugby league are neglected as a result,” he said.
The former Bulls player believes the RFL need better direction when it comes to investing and promoting the sport to ensure no-one suffers.
“I think the European teams are massive for making us a national and international sport, because if you take London and Catalans out of the equation, we’re a north of England, regional sport, we can’t play blind to that,” said Diskin.
“Going forward though, we need to look at some of the heartlands of rugby league, such as Cumbria and Lancashire.
“These sorts of areas haven’t got as many juniors playing the game as they had 10, 20 years ago.
“Is that because the popularity of rugby league is reducing or is it because we have taken our eye off the ball and put the money and resources into areas less associated with the sport?”
The Bulldogs currently sit second in the Championship Shield standings, seven points clear of third-placed Sheffield and seven behind leaders Toulouse.
Diskin’s men are expecting a tough test tomorrow as both sides look to prepare for the semi-finals, but a dominant win against rivals Dewsbury last weekend ensured they will head across the Channel full of confidence.
“Toulouse were unlucky to miss out on the top four, they play some great attacking rugby, but equally this is what we will look to do this weekend,” said Diskin.
“At the start of the year the Shield wasn’t something we talked about, we had aspirations for top four, but we fell short of that during the regular season which was disappointing and we’ll look at that in the off-season.
“The next best thing we have got is to have a really good run in the Shield competition, strive to make the final and with a bit of luck on the day we could come away with it.
“We know that on our day we are capable of it, but we also know there are some very talented teams around us,” he said.
Diskin also believes those at the top of rugby league fail to give enough credit to competitions such as the Championship and League One and the quality produced on a weekly basis.
“The Championship is a really good competition, it’s a tough league offering a mix and variance, yet it’s looked down upon by those above,” he said.
“You’ve got officials that are good, some are indifferent, which makes a constant talking point, you’ve got very very talented players and you’ve got young kids striving to take a step forward.
“People from the RFL and the Super League look down their noses at it and there’s no coverage whatsoever, there has not been one game on this year.
“There is a real lack of respect for the sport and for competitions at any level below Super League,” said Diskin.
“It’s a fantastic competition, it’s just a shame it has a real lack of respect thrown towards it by those higher up the chain.
“The game is never going to grow while it has such an elitist mentality,” he added.