Snubbed Halifax vow to keep fighting for Super League spot

Defiant Halifax last night insisted they will re-double their efforts to win a place in Engage Super League next season.

The West Yorkshire club was left “disappointed” by the RFL’s decision to award Widnes Vikings a licence for 2012-14 but have been boosted by confirmation they could still make it into the elite.

Like Widnes, they met the minimum standards – the other applicant Barrow Raiders failed to do so and subsequently was not considered – and so will join the current 14 Super League clubs competing for the remaining 13 places when the next round of licences are awarded on July 26.

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It is highly unlikely the RFL will omit more than one club to make way for Halifax, with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Castleford Tigers those under most threat, but the club will not give up their fight to return to the elite for the first time since 2003.

“This is a very disappointing day but all is not lost,” said director Mike Riley.

“We will continue to work hard to achieve our goal and we hope to be able to provide Super League for our fantastic supporters and the town of Halifax.

“We want to create a rallying call to the fans, and the local public, to keep faith in the bid and to continue to back it.

“In the RFL statement, Richard Lewis stressed how both Halifax and Widnes passed the RFL criteria and is therefore valid for Super League.

“This is a very important focal point and demonstrates that we have a fantastic chance to still achieve promotion in the July decision.”

Riley pointed to Halifax’s remarkable 23-22 Championship Grand Final victory over Featherstone Rovers, when they rallied from a 22-4 deficit to win and earn the right to apply for Super League, as an example of their desire.

“As a club we do not give up, and that success shows this,” he said.

“We were all but down and out but never gave up, came back from the brink and prevailed against all the odds. We will strive to repeat this achievement in the coming months.

“We hope and expect that in July we will be in a winning position.

“We still believe in our heart that our bid is as good as many of those in Super League and will take some feedback from the League to find out our weaknesses and work on them.”

Halifax, who congratulated Widnes on their triumph, are urging fans to show the RFL that the town “NEEDS Super League” by packing The Shay for their televised Carnegie Challenge Cup tie against Bradford Bulls on May 8.

RFL chairman Lewis, head of the five-strong decision-making body, said: “It was not an easy choice and obviously two other clubs have been left disappointed.

“But Widnes deserve it. They have done well in the last three years both on and off the field and we believe they will raise the standards of Super League.”

The delighted Vikings, controversially overlooked in favour of the Celtic Crusaders three years ago, return to Super League for the first time since 2004 with ex-Great Britain star Denis Betts as their head coach and backed by millionaire Steve O’Connor.