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cumbria review

Review launched into the future of Rugby League in West Cumbria

The future of Rugby League in West Cumbria is to be the subject of a major review involving a detailed study spearheaded jointly by the RFL, Whitehaven and Workington Town.

The review follows on from the success of Rugby League World Cup 2013, during which more than 14,000 people attended matches at Workington’s Derwent Park stadium, and will focus on the sustainability of professional Rugby League in West Cumbria, as well as looking at the player pathway and development opportunities from within the community game.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is the review required?

A: The RFL, Workington Town and Whitehaven RLFC all recognise that the professional game in West Cumbria is not realising the rich potential that exists in the region.

Crowds at both clubs have fallen over the past few years, a period which has also corresponded with a decline in commercial revenue.

The performances of both clubs on the pitch have fluctuated with the last major success for either being Whitehaven’s win in the 2005 National League One Grand Final.

The Rugby League World Cup games staged at Derwent Park last autumn suggest there is a local appetite to watch the game at an elite level. A total of 14,890 spectators attended the two games and over 80 per cent of those people were from the region.

The strength of the community game and the Cumbrian Regional Academy also offer potential for further development and growth.

All these factors present a timely opportunity to properly analyse the current challenges aligned to opportunities to grow the game in West Cumbria.


Q: Who is leading the review?

A: The review is being led by Alan Rapley, a professional, independent consultant, whose appointment has been agreed by the RFL, Whitehaven and Workington. Alan’s appointment will ensure that proper and thorough research is conducted to robustly evidence and document the current landscape.


Q: What is the RFL’s role in the process?

A: The RFL are assisting and supporting the clubs in looking at the current state of the game and assessing what realistic options there might be in the future for sustainable development and growth.

The governing body is committed to working closely with both clubs to safeguard and protect their own interests, the interests of the game in West Cumbria and those of the wider sport.


Q: What is the role of Whitehaven and Workington Town?

A: Both clubs will play a full part in the review and have been actively involved in the discussions that have taken place so far.


Q: Is the outcome of the study that the two clubs will merge?

A: The scale of the review will be far ranging and will consider all options. The report will make recommendations based on the consultation and research and it is too early to pre judge what these might be. There is no ‘pro-merger’ agenda being driven by anyone involved in this project.


Q: What about the community game?

A: The community game is an important part of the process and proper consultation will take place with clubs, leagues and associations to determine what barriers exist and examine opportunities for the player pathway from the community game through to the professional game.


Q: What are the timescales for the review to be completed?

A: It is anticipated that the review will be completed in late summer (2014).


Q: What is the next stage after the review has been completed?

A: The review will document the process undertaken, present research findings and make recommendations. The clubs and The RFL will then agree on the next stage looking at their own interests and the wider interests of the sport in West Cumbria.


Q: How can I contribute to the process?

A: There will be a number of opportunities throughout the consultation process for people to contribute. Alan Rapley will outline how and when through various channels including local media and club websites.