Halifax chairman Michael Steele has said the club took the decision to join Featherstone, Leigh and Sheffield in a rebellion against the Rugby Football League’s revamped and controversial dual-registration system “to protect the integrity of the Championship”.
Representatives of the four - the only Championship clubs who retain top flight ambitions of their own - met late last week, apparently at the instigation of Rovers, and agreed a “memorandum of understanding” to work to their own set of rules rather the RFL’s.
The quartet have now agreed not to sign dual-reg players over the age of 23, not to sign dual-reg players who are in the top 20 of their Super League club, not to field more than four dual-reg players in a game and not to select any dual-reg player for the end of season play offs unless they have played in more than half the league programme.
“We felt it was a necessary step to protect the integrity of the competition,” said Steele, who confirmed the intention was to ask the other 10 Championship clubs to sign the agreement.
The governing body’s decision to introduce ‘partnership’ deals between Championship and Super League sides in 2013 has sparked allegations it is bent on turning the game’s second tier into a feeder league for the top flight.
Swinton, who are paired with Warrington, have fielded nine Wolves players in a single fixture, while Widnes, Bradford and Hull have registered their entire first team squads for duty with Workington, Dewsbury and York respectively.
Steele said none of the four rebels objected to the principle of dual-registering young players, but hold fundamental objections to seeing senior Super League stars using the competition to maintain match fitness and the wholesale importation of top flight players.
Steele said the decision, which is not legally binding, had been made in the “interests of the game”.
Fax’s under 20s are in action against Rochdale at Heath RU club on Wednesday night (7.45).