KEIGHLEY RUFC head coach Dan McGee feels his side’s upcoming Papa John’s Community Cup tie at Widnes may act as a good benchmark, as he implored the Rugby Football Union to have a rethink.

McGee’s side were runners-up in Counties One Yorkshire last season, and will finish second or third this time around, depending on the result of their final league game with Hullensians and Wetherby’s against Beverley this Saturday.

A victory for Wetherby, or even a losing bonus point, would guarantee them second spot at Keighley’s expense, but they will not be promoted unless leaders Bradford Salem slip up on the last day at West Leeds.

The competition in the division is notoriously strong compared to other parts of the country, meaning sides in much weaker leagues often get promoted in second, having accrued more points in total than their Yorkshire counterparts.

McGee said: “I think the configuration of the regional leagues above us may need looking at, but I don’t know how the RFU would go about that.

“Would you get Yorkshire-heavy leagues at regional level? Maybe, but the better teams should be going up really.

“We’d only lost a couple of games when we were second a few weeks back, yet we were only eighth or ninth best-ranked runner up in the country, so had no chance of going up.

“In some leagues at our level outside of Yorkshire, you’ve got two teams who just smash everyone else, so they’re basically guaranteed to both get promotion.

“It’s a tough and frustrating pill to swallow for the lads and I really feel for them, as this is a group who’ve only lost a handful of games over the last two seasons, but haven’t won promotion in either of them.

“We actually travel to Widnes a week on Saturday for our opening Papa Johns Community Cup game, so it will be a good test to see how strong a Counties One Yorkshire side is against a Lancashire one."

Keighley had the title in their hands until a few weeks ago, but they lost a tense and tight battle at home to Salem in mid-February before suffering a shock hammering at then fifth-placed Pocklington in their next match.

Keighley News: Keighley were riding high after this thrilling win over Old Rishworthian in January, but it all went wrong for them a few weeks later.Keighley were riding high after this thrilling win over Old Rishworthian in January, but it all went wrong for them a few weeks later. (Image: John Ashton.)

McGee said: “I think the Salem result affected how the Pocklington game went.

“We didn’t react well to losing the derby and we weren’t at the races at all against Pocklington.

“They came at us with a simple and effective gameplan, we lacked discipline, and we just couldn’t get a hold of the match at all.”

If the reaction after losing to Salem was not what McGee wanted, he is confident a second successive promotion near-miss will not hamper his players going into the 2024/25 Counties One Yorkshire campaign.

He said: “I think we’ll be good when we return in September.

“We’re always evolving and it may be a new-look side you see next season.

“We’ve got a good colts set up and have already blooded some in the first team this season, like (winger) Amrit Sharma and (flanker) Elis Jones.

“It’s exciting and while it may be different next year in terms of us making a few changes, we’ll be pushing on again.

“We won’t be dwelling or feeling sorry for ourselves over missing out on promotion again.”