Over the years since it’s inception, the dual registration system has had it’s fair share of critics as many argue that it doesn’t remotely benefit the ‘lesser’ team in the long run and that the ‘bigger’ team doesn’t overly care about how their partner club performs and uses them simply to give their players sporadic game time.
However, since Hull KR and York City Knights went into partnership at the start of 2017, that trend has been well and truly bucked. Following the successful takeover by Jon Flatman, the Knights were in a rush to get ready for the campaign and one of the first orders of business was finalising the dual registration arrangement with the Hull team – then about to embark on what would ultimately turn out to be one season in the second tier following relegation from Super League.
This week has seen Jake Butler-Fleming and Will Jubb both pen one year contracts with the Minster city club after spending time with the Knights during 2017 and, while they are back in York on full-time deals, KR coach Tim Sheens hasn’t ruled out a return, saying that “as with all the players up at the Knights, they’ll remain very much a part of the Rovers family and they’ll be playing alongside the likes of Ben Cockayne and Graeme Horne, as well as some other players who we’ll be putting on dual registration up there once again next year,” displaying both his willingness to develop young players as well as hit commitment to the partnership between the clubs. Indeed, Cockayne and Horne have joined the Knights as notable signings who will no doubt have a huge impact on the young squad and likely arrivals due to their vast experience and it shows the calibre of squad and setup being sculpted by York coach James Ford, something which persuaded Butler-Fleming to return to the Knights, saying “he is still really well regarded at Hull KR and other clubs at a higher level showed a keen interest, but he chose to come to York.”
The system itself was designed to ensure youngsters gained valuable match experience in a competitive environment and the newly promoted KR clearly value this. In addition to this, it avoids players ending on the scrapheap of rugby league through being able to play on a regular basis – in the case of York, hopefully, at the top of Kingstone Press League 1. After a full pre-season or preparation, the Knights are sure to be a good bet for success in 2018 and the partnership with Hull KR may well be one of the reasons they succeed next season.