In recent years the British game has welcomed a number of teams from Europe and further afield into the Super League and lower divisions.

It all started when Paris St Germain opened up the Super League with a famous victory over Sheffield Eagles.

When the Super League was being formed we were promised Milan, Barcelona and the game expanding across Northern Europe.

In reality, the Paris outfit were gone in two years.

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Catalans Dragons have since brought a little ‘va va voom’ and European flavour back to the Super League since their introduction back in 2005.

Toulouse have entered the Championship and left, rejoined League 1, and are now challenging at the top of the Championship once more.

And of course, professional Rugby League is now being played in North America.

Toronto Wolfpack came into the British game in 2017 and stormed their way to Super League in just three seasons – and will take their place at the game’s top table in 2020.

But with the planned expansion of Ottawa and New York due to join League 1 in 2021, is it becoming too much?

Rugby League in the UK may be a professional sport in the top division but the Championship and League 1 are semi-professional tiers.

The Championship may be a hybrid division with a mixture of full-time and part-time teams, but the majority of the players have full-time jobs.

There had been criticism of Toronto joining the lower divisions as it saw a number of clubs crossing the Atlantic with depleted squads, with many clubs being unable to field 17 players.

And the inclusion of more North American clubs to the fold could certainly exacerbate these issues.

Does Rugby League in this UK need to increase its presence around the world to try and boost its financial capacity? Yes.

Is an influx of clubs based thousands of miles away from the UK the way to go? In my opinion, no.

I was a fan of Toronto joining the UK leagues and have spoken to members behind the scenes, and the playing staff, who have shared their experiences of playing in Toronto as being very positive.

But I struggle to see this being replicated across North America and, with the financial impact of travelling to North America maybe three times a season, it may have an impact on the UK clubs who are already struggling to survive.

So, is the reward in bringing more North American clubs worth the risk?

In my opinion, there is a lot more work to be done to secure the future of the British game before we can even look at more expansion into one of the biggest sporting areas in the world.

 

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