Same Skies Think Tank logo

The Regional Democracy Think Tank for West Yorkshire

Does rugby league in West Yorkshire have a future?

No alt for this image

Download Ian Martin's report on the future of rugby league as a free PDF from here.

Does rugby league in West Yorkshire have a future? Ian Martin argues that it does.

In fact, Rugby League should be at the heart of regional democracy and regional democracy should be at the heart of rugby league.

In this report, Ian investigates what the founding values of the game might mean today and how those founding values can inspire a future for the game in West Yorkshire and beyond.

Based on that investigation, he defines 5 values for rugby league in West Yorkshire today:

  • Rugby League in West Yorkshire must aim to provide life chances for people here and around the world.
  • Rugby League in West Yorkshire must not just settle for inclusion, it should do something more than that – it should be actively anti-discriminatory.
  • Rugby League in West Yorkshire must always be open to people representing their own sense of belonging, identity and pride.
  • Rugby League in West Yorkshire must always strive to be professional, competitive, sustainable and accountable.
  • Rugby League in West Yorkshire must serve as inspiration for self-determination through regional democracy and vice versa.

Building on these values, his proposals include:

  • Paying Women’s Super League players as a top priority.

  • Supporting Super League’s Transatlantic expansion to increase sponsorship income and create more life chances for people growing up in West Yorkshire.

  • Devolving power and resources for supporting community ownership of clubs to the West Yorkshire mayor.

  • Making Super League clubs more transparent and more accountable, including ethical audits of income and expenditure.

  • Ensuring Rugby League in West Yorkshire is actively anti-discriminatory and accountable for taking steps towards under-represented groups, including the South Asian community.

  • Encouraging people in rugby league to freely express their identity through international representative teams without prejudice, including a Yorkshire XIII if desired.

To find out more, the report in full can be downloaded as a free PDF from here.

What do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts on this report and more generally on the future of rugby league in West Yorkshire. Please do comment on social media (we have Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts) and why not send us your own ideas, for example as a blog for publication on this website.


Ian Martin is a co-founder of Same Skies, longstanding Leeds (Rhinos) RLFC supporter, former junior RL club coach and current schools RL coach. He can be contacted through this website or on Twitter.

Twitter: @ianeastleeds

Photo by Ian Martin

Huddersfield Queensgate Market


West Yorkshire should call for powers to improve our welfare system

The recently announced West Yorkshire devolution deal provides £1.8 billion in funding over thirty years and new powers for deciding how that should be …


Could we put ‘Ubuntu’ at the heart of better mental health for all in West Yorkshire?

Before David 'Rocky' Bennett’s death in an East Anglian psychiatric unit 18 years ago, he sent a letter to the nurse director, pointing out …

Same Skies Think Tank
c/o The Making Space
The Media Centre,
Northumberland Street,
Huddersfield,
West Yorkshire,
HD1 1RL