Moving the Challenge Cup Final will 'reinvigorate' the competition, says John Kear
Last Updated: 30/04/14 7:42pm
John Kear told Boots 'N' All that moving the Challenge Cup final back to May will 'reinvigorate' the competition.
The Wembley showpiece was adjusted from the spring to late August back in 2005, and many have criticised the two-month gap between the quarter-finals and semi-finals.
The final now takes place only seven weeks prior to the season-ending Super League Grand Final, but the entire domestic schedule is currently being reviewed by the Rugby Football League.
Former Wakefield Trinity coach John Kear says the competition at present, which has seen crowd numbers diminish in recent years, is demanding too much from fans in tough economic times.
He said: "I'd play three rounds for the Super League teams prior to the season starting, and then have a break for the semi-finals, then have a final break at the end of May. I think that's helpful for the teams because realistically you could really have a shot at having a down period before the Grand Final.
To be a bit fairer to fans as well as players and to reinvigorate the competition the final needs to be in May.
"It's important for the fans as well though, because at the minute we're asking people, in very difficult times, to shell out on a weekend in London at the end of August and then to go Old Trafford pretty soon afterwards, as well as paying for pas-as-you-go play-off games.
"To be a bit fairer to fans as well as players and to reinvigorate the competition the final needs to be in May."
Kear, who led Hull to the Challenge Cup in 2005, added: "We've just had a round last weekend and then the quarter-finals are well down the calendar - they're six/eight weeks away that's just too long. In order to maintain interest, momentum and impetus within the competition it needs to be pretty soon after each other and I think that's what's got to happen with the Challenge Cup regardless of what's happening in the other competitions.
"It's a pretty tough conundrum they've got for this coming season and obviously once they've come up with it we need to stick with it for a number of years."
RFL Chief Operating Officer, Ralph Rimmer, joined Boots 'N' All host Eddie Hemmings on the show to discuss the impending changes and insisted that the decisions that are made will be for the foreseeable future.
"I think the key to it is engagement," said Rimmer.
"The Challenge Cup is a trophy that should engage the community game, the Championship clubs as well as the Super League clubs all as one and now we've lost that continuity, and that re-engagement is a key part of the master that we'll be trying to put together next year to produce what will be a fantastically exciting season with a whole range of events throughout the calendar, which will bring the crowds flocking through.
"The Challenge Cup has, in some respects, fallen away to some degree and we need to do something about it; currently we're playing with some formulas that might do something about it.
"We certainly may have lost some momentum there and I think because of the way the senior competitions have been set up there has been a little more disengagement with the Challenge Cup over recent years and the formulas that we’re currently playing with are designed to, not only inject some energy and some vibrancy in to the Super League, but also in to the Challenge Cup. We need to take the whole game forward."