THE RFL’s announcement on the award of elite academy licences for 2022-27 has thrown up some worrying outcomes and raises a number of questions about its objectives, according to Bradford South MP Judith Cummins.

The chair of the all-party parliamentary rugby league group (APPG) has questioned the decision after the Bulls, Castleford and Hull KR were told their production lines would go.

“The approach and the outcome would appear to represent a reduction in opportunity in the community heartlands of the sport and a concentration predominantly in the hands of leading Super League clubs,” she said.

The independent chair of the RFL’s decision-making panel stated that it wasn’t about working to award a set number of licences, but this doesn’t fit with the RFL’s statement that there was agreement to a maximum of 12 licences.

The MP has written to the RFL seeking an explanation of why quotas rather than an assessment of record, performance and potential, and crucially, evidence of deep roots into the community game, appear to have had little weight in the consideration.

“This disconnect of the outcome from the grass roots of the game appears most starkly illustrated by the decision not to award an elite academy licence to Bradford Bulls. The Bulls academy has been productive and respected for its work, a rich source of playing talent.

“The club sits at the apex of a vibrant local community rugby league structure, particularly in south Bradford, acting as a powerful incentive and objective for young local players starting out in the sport.”

Bradford has been buoyed by the club’s return to the city. They will play York on Sunday in their comeback match at Odsal.

“Bradford Bulls return to Odsal stadium is great news for Bradford, the club, the fans and the sport.

“Odsal is totemic for rugby league in Bradford and getting the Bulls back playing in Bradford is hugely significant.

“I am pleased to have worked with the club, helping them to achieve their ambition to return to Bradford. I’m now looking forward to continuing that work to help secure their return in the long-term.”