Hunslet Chairman Kenny Sykes has responded to this morning’s news that West Wales Raiders have ceased participation in League One with immediate effect.

“Obviously this is sad news. My first thoughts are with the players, staff, supporters and the Board of West Wales. I have had first-hand experience of a club closing down and it is an upsetting time for all concerned.

It is fair to say West Wales have struggled on the field for a number of years and that makes it difficult to build a supporter base.  However, that does not detract from the hard work the people involved at the Club have put in season after season. We wish them all well for the future.

This means two less games for Hunslet next season and we will assess what this means from a playing and financial perspective over the next week. We will issue an update early in the new year”.

Betfred League One clubs have agreed that the 2023 season will revert to a 10-team competition, following the withdrawal of West Wales Raiders.

The Raiders informed the RFL yesterday (Wednesday 21 December) that they would be unable to compete in 2023.

At a meeting with the RFL this morning, League 1 clubs agreed that each team will play 18 fixtures – nine at home and nine away – and that rounds originally scheduled for matches against West Wales Raiders would become blank weekends for respective clubs.

The introduction of loop fixtures to avoid blank weekends was considered, however with a full 22-round fixture list already announced it was felt that it would be too disruptive to redraw the fixture list. Additionally, with the top team in the table securing automatic promotion it was felt that the introduction of loop fixtures might benefit some clubs whilst compromising the promotion prospects of others.

Raiders’ withdrawal from the Betfred Challenge Cup will allow the invitation to two additional teams from the Impact Performance National Conference League – Barrow Island and Crosfields – to join the First Round draw at Wembley next month.

There will now be 18 ties in the First Round, which will be played in mid-February, with the winners joining the 10 Betfred League One clubs and 10 from the NCL Premier Division in the Second Round later in the month.

Rhondda Outlaws are one of the confirmed entrants for the First Round of the Betfred Challenge Cup, while Cardiff Demons will enter the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup for the first time – a reward for their success in winning the Betfred Women’s Super League South in each of its first two seasons. The Demons are also hoping to launch a Wheelchair Rugby League team in 2023 following the success of Wales in reaching the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup.

The RFL plans to hold discussions with Wales Rugby League early in the New Year regarding a more sustainable and effective approach to the promotion and development of the sport in South Wales.