Cup's future under threat
IF those with objections to the stand-alone President’s Cup round had spoken up sooner, something might have been done to change it.
As it was, they came too late.
But it shows the huge gulf in thinking on the matter between players and coaches on one side and the game’s administrators on the other.
In recent years the President’s Cup has been played between the two teams leading their competition at the halfway point of the season, when next they meet in the competition draw.
This year, a weekend was set aside for President’s Cup fixtures in all grades to be played, with no competition points on offer.
“Last year in June-July we formulated a competitions committee,” IRL operations manager Brendan Rose said.
“They wanted to bring some importance back into it. A lot of people around Ipswich are happy to see all grades play (for the President’s Cup) on the one day.”
Players and coaches feel differently, with little or no regard for the concept, particularly if no competition points are on offer.
“Not many people remember who won the President’s Cup,” Norths president Paul Cairns said.
“In the players’ minds, their focus is the end of the year.
“I know what the IRL are trying to do but the players hold the grand final a lot higher than the President’s Cup.”
The QT spoke to one player from each A grade club on the subject.
Two supported the President’s Cup when played as a normal competition game, but all agreed it carried no importance and to have it as a stand-alone round was pointless.
The three coaches the QT spoke to last week who were involved in Sunday’s fixtures felt the same.
Last year the A grade President’s Cup was played in the final competition round, when clubs were looking ahead to the finals.
It was this, in part, which prompted a rethink about its scheduling this season.
“Everything was already decided with nothing attached to the game,” Rose said.
For the players, there is nothing attached to it whenever it is played.
There were murmurs of dissent at the June delegates meeting over this year’s schedule, so the IRL gave the clubs the option of playing for premiership points.
But there was a catch – the President’s Cup match would replace the next scheduled meeting of the two leading teams, so one would have to give up a home game.
In A grade, that would mean Norths sacrificing their home game against Brothers this weekend, something they could not afford to do.
“The only way we can pay players is through sponsorship and gate takings,” Cairns said.
Rose just wished the objections had been made earlier, when something could have been done about it.
“The draw had been released the whole time,” Rose said.
“It was only questioned once the people realised what the ramifications were.”
He said the competition structure would be reassessed at the end of the season, as it is each year.
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