Positives far outweigh the negatives in dual-registration move

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Oh, the sheer beauty of simple, old-fashioned common sense.

Granted, I may have little of it myself. Indeed, it does not take long for some colleagues in the rugby league fraternity to remind me of some idiotic episode where I showed my innate slackness.

One favourite is the tale of the greatest try that never was when, as an Oulton Raiders second-teamer, I somehow bamboozled the elite Queens three-quarter line, including the much-feared Wakefield Trinity stalwart Andy Wilson, to ‘score’ an amazing touchdown.

It was only when an eagle-eyed touch-judge started waving his flag that I realised I’d expertly dodged all those snarling defenders for no good reason; it appeared I’d put the ball down behind the dead-ball line instead of, crucially, the try-line.

I still blame Bus Vale’s inadequate floodlights for that particular misdemeanour, but you understand the point.

Anyway, it brings me nicely to the amateur sport and the pleasing news coming out of Red Hall this week that another new-found unity between the professional and community game has been formed.

It says that Academy players at professional clubs will also be dual-registered with their amateur club, an arrangement that will enable them to be released to play for their grassroots side if not selected for their professional club on a week-by-week basis.

It mirrors what happens with senior players between Super League and Championship clubs and ends years of frustration whereby some of the sport’s most talented youngsters have been placed at risk of being alienated from the game entirely.

So often, those teenagers who didn’t make the Academy side at, for example, Leeds, Bradford or Hull FC, would be left kicking their heels, fit and raring to play but caught in an unfortunate chasm whereby they could not operate.

Their amateur club, a Hunslet Warriors, Dudley Hill or Skirlaugh, would have loved to welcome them back into the fold, but red tape made it impossible.

There are arguments for that. Perhaps the professional club may be worried about their player gaining bad habits back in their old regime, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Given the sport is crying out to raise participation levels, it is in no position to risk seeing such people drift away due to enforced inactivity.

The newly-aligned March-to-November playing season has helped facilitate the new system and the decision is readily welcomed by all.

A club must tell a player 48 hours before a match whether he will feature and, if not, he can return to his home club.

As RFL Head of Player Development BJ Mather said: “The dual registration agreement means that players won’t be penalised for following their dream of playing professional rugby league.

“The professional game understands a strong community game is the best way to develop players and dual registration is a way to ensure that we are not taking too many players out of community game clubs.”

Common sense at last. But why stop there? The same sentiments must surely apply to other areas of the sport.

Batley coach John Kear has suggested Championship clubs should be able to allow players to return to their amateur clubs too.

With so many frugal Championship outfits no longer running reserve sides, talented amateurs who sign up hoping to make the grade at places like Batley, Dewsbury and York, can risk being frozen out themselves.

Indeed, it could potentially act as a deterrent to some from actually signing for professional clubs and “following their dream.”

As it stands, there is no scope for this to happen. If you hold a RFL contract you can only play in tiers 1 and 2 with those Academy players being the exception.

Well, let’s see a little more common sense prevail – and another exception made.