Bradford saw any hopes they had of Super League survival come to an end on Sunday afternoon, after a 52-26 defeat to Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield meant their inevitable relegation was confirmed. The loss, Bradford’s 17th in 21 games this season, means they will join London Broncos in the Kingstone Press Championship in 2015.
The Bulls’ relegation marks a sad day for the Super League as the competition has lost one of its most successful sides. Bradford were the dominant force in the early days of the Super League era, winning 4 Grand Finals and 4 League Leader’s Shields. They also played in 5 Challenge Cup Finals, winning 2 in 2000 and 2003, as well as 3 World Club Challenge victories in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
However, the Bulls have gradually fallen down the Super League ladder as the seasons have gone by and have not made the play-offs since 2008. Financial difficulties have not helped matters, after the club entered administration in 2012 and more recently at the start of this year. As a result, Bradford were docked 6 points this season, and had their appeal against the sanction rejected by the RFL in June. The club has been seeking High Court action since in order to get the points back, which if awarded could mathematically still see the Bulls avoid the drop. However, after a disappointing season which has seen them pick up just 4 wins, it’s unlikely the team would find the results.
New head coach Jimmy Lowes is yet to win from his 4 games in charge, and he’ll now be looking to raise his team in order to pick up some victories and go out on a high. Lowes also faces the task of keeping his key players for next season and ward off interest from Super League clubs.
The Championship will give the Bulls the chance to rebuild, and with promotion being reintroduced under the new league structure, this time next year Bradford will be looking to return to the league which many feel they belong.