Sheffield Eagles boss Mark Aston concerned over future of rugby league

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What’s the best way forward for rugby league?

The current format has drawn a mixture of opinions since the introduction of the Super 8 format in 2015.

As the season enters the final stages of the third year in its current guise, the debate continues.

Whilst the re-introduction of promotion and relegation has seen the likes of Leigh make it into Super League last season, the standard of the second tier has again been brought into question.

Hull KR are back in the top flight, but the rest of The Championship has again fallen short in the face of the big-money Super League sides. The current end of season split may have worked for some, but Eagles director Mark Aston isn’t convinced.

He wants a stronger second tier, and has highlighted the number of high profile names in the league below as a growing concern. “I am not convinced this is the best way forward” he says.

“There are teams in the league below who deserve to be in The Championship. I’d make this league bigger and then have the one below as a development league. The standard below is possibly not at the level that some of the teams are accustomed to.

“You have the likes of York, Whitehaven, Workington, Barrow, Keighley, Hunslet and Doncaster in there.

“That’s no disrespect to the other teams, but the standard gets lower if we don’t keep playing and challenging the players in those clubs.”

Next season The Championship will welcome the first ever transatlantic team as Toronto Wolfpack earned promotion after winning the League One title.

Aston would like to see the likes of York and other clubs back in the second tier to produce a stronger division under Super League. “Toronto have done what they have done, and why wouldn’t they? They have the finances and a full-time squad to deliver,” he added.

“York will have a new stadium soon, and when they get that they will improve the fan base. That’s great for the development of the sport.

“There are clubs with history that probably should be back up here. I think it has to be looked at.

“Whether that is making the Championship bigger, or two leagues, I don’t know.”