Nottingham Outlaws today announce that they have unfortunately had to decline an invitation to participate in the newly-formed National Conference League Division 3 for the 2013 season.
The decision has genuinely been one of the most difficult faced by the club since the Outlaws were formed in 1999. After much deliberation between the committee, coaching staff and senior players it was agreed that the anticipated increase in the standard of competition in conjunction with the substantial increases in travel demands were beyond the capabilities of the club at its current stage of development.
By announcing their decision now, the club felt that it would give all parties concerned sufficient time to re-assess their playing criteria ahead of the 2013 season and give sufficient time for a new team to step up in their place.
The club's application to join the NCL was born out of a desire to participate in a full length playing season at an appropriate level of competition in order to offer players, coaches and spectators a realistic alternative to other sports and continue to develop Rugby League in the Nottingham area.
When the club initially applied to join the NCL in 2010, the club was in a stronger position both in terms of its playing strengths and its financial status. These were felt to be more than adequate for the level of competition that was anticipated in the lowest division of the NCL at that time.
Since the original application was made, the playing strength of the club has not developed to the level the club anticipated. In addition, the NCL3 division that the club would have been placed in comprises clubs from a significantly different geographical base. As a result this would have involved substantially greater travelling times with an associated increase in financial commitments. This would likely prove too big a hurdle for the club to overcome in its first season at this higher level.
Club spokesman Joe Shepherd shed more light on the decision, adding “In recent seasons, the club has worked very hard to develop a nucleus of players who regard Rugby League as their primary sport, and have significantly reduced our reliance on utilising players from other sports who are playing Rugby League during their off-season. Whilst our full-strength team has proved that it can compete with the best teams in the RLC National Division, unavailability due to injuries and work commitments has, at times, exposed a lack of depth in playing strength. This has therefore highlighted a need to recruit and strengthen our playing squad ahead of the 2013 season. Our aim is to develop a community club capable of sustaining participation at an NCL level of competition, and we will therefore look to re-apply to the NCL as and when such a decision is appropriate”.
Nottingham Outlaws would like to thank the NCL management committee and the member clubs for their support in the Outlaws application, and look forward to working alongside the RFL to determine the club's most appropriate playing option and development strategy for the 2013 season and beyond.