Cornwall in rugby league: Doncaster chief gives cautious welcome

DONCASTER RLFC chief executive Carl Hall admits “tough” questions were asked of the Rugby Football League and Cornwall RLFC president Eric Perez yesterday – but if the answers are “correct” then the League 1 newcomers need to be embraced.

Dons chief executive Carl Hall. (Picture: Marie Caley)

The sport’s latest attempt at expansion was announced on Tuesday when it was revealed Ottawa Aces – handed Hemel Stags’ licence by the RFL in March last year but who never played a game – would be relocated from Canada to Penryn in Cornwall.

Perez, the Canadian who was a key influence initially in Toronto Wolfpack and then Ottawa’s takeover of Hemel while also working briefly for Bradford Bulls, will be at the helm of Cornwall as they start the 2022 season.

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But there are many question marks surrounding the whole process, not least from concerned League 1 clubs who were not consulted about this latest switch in region and found out not long before the decision went public.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer attended a meeting of the Championship and League 1 clubs at the Shay Stadium in Halifax yesterday when Perez addressed them via video call.

With central funding already significantly cut in League 1 next term, part-timers Doncaster face a 700-mile round trip to Penryn in a competition that already has clubs outside of the heartlands such as West Wales Raiders, Coventry Bears – who yesterday rebranded as Midlands Hurricanes – and North Wales Crusaders.

Cornwall, who have promised to promote players from the county, will have to make similar journeys every fortnight.

Hall attended the meeting and told The Yorkshire Post: “We asked some tough questions today and got some answers. There’s some [other] stuff we asked and we’ll get the answers but, listen, if it works, it works. Ralph and Eric answered them as best they could – and it looks like we’re going to Cornwall.”

Asked if any answers from the meeting left him in a more positive frame of mind than before, Hall replied: “If what we were told happens... there’s a lot of logistics in there. We’ve all still got to try and get our heads around it.

“A lot of people are talking about the travel but if we can get that sorted out… if we can get the kick-off times right and the travel right… We all want expansion of the sport. If we can get the things we asked right then we have all got to go and give it a good go.

“That’s just me. I asked some hard questions but they did answer them.

“If what they answered is correct then we need to all embrace it, I suppose, and try and make it work for the good of the sport.”