Fax withdraw from next season’s reserve grade competition

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Halifax have announced they will not enter a team in the RFL’s revamped reserve grade set up next season, despite having been standard bearers for the concept over the last four years.

The club’s board of directors released a statement over the weekend, saying the decision had been taken with ‘disappointment and regret’ and citing a number of factors including rising costs, budget restrictions after an indifferent 2019 Championship season and ongoing issues with player recruitment and retention.

Fax’s second string was revived by former coach Richard Marshall, with the current St Helens assistant coach frequently highlighting its success.

Current first team players James Woodburn-Hall, Brandon Moore, Reece Chapman-Smith and Elliot Morris all emerged after becoming ineligible for under 19s rugby at Super League clubs, while current Super League players Chester Butler and Nick Rawsthorne trod the same path.

The irony for Fax, who under Marshall petitioned vigorously for a properly structured competition, is that they have effectively become victims of their own success.

With a reserve side now mandatory for all Super League clubs, there are considerably less players on the market as top flight teams hoard talent to fill their own rosters.

As an example, Leeds Rhinos’ Academy coach Rob Burrow told Courier Sport a year ago that Chapman-Smith would have been kept at Headingley if the club had been running a reserve side at that time.

“We have calculated, as best we can, the additional costs of running the Reserve Grade team next year,” said the statement.

“This has included the vastly increased costings for salaries, doctors and physio costs, transportation costs and additional ground costs to name but just a few.

“To be candid our recently amended business plan and forecast shows we are not in a financial position to commit to these additional costs and with no additional funding from the RFL to help run the Reserves, we are not prepared to place the club’s future in jeopardy.”

More on this story in this week’s Courier Sport