Academy Rugby League set for March return
Posted: Thursday 25th February 2021 - 1:30 PM
Academy level players will make their long-awaited and eagerly anticipated return to Rugby League next month, following the government’s announcement of a gradual easing of lockdown restrictions.
Those clubs in Super League and Championship with Academies have been given the go-ahead to begin pre-season training from Monday 8 March – almost 12 months since they last played competitive Rugby League.
Continuing public health concerns mean that there will be no formal Academy competition in 2021. The playing format is set to be discussed in more detail with clubs next week.
RFL Chief On-Field Officer, Dave Rotheram, says: “This is another big step in the right direction for Rugby League’s Talent Pathway. It’s been a long time coming and everybody connected with the Academy game – players, clubs, coaches – is keen to get down to business and make up for lost time.
“It won’t be plain sailing and we have to tread carefully, especially in respect of player welfare. Covid continues to present considerable logistical challenges and young players will need time to adjust to a return to collision sport.
“We feel that a competitive league structure and full fixture list isn’t appropriate this year, so will instead work towards a formula that affords as many playing opportunities as possible for players who have missed so much in the last 12 months.”
Scholarship players at under 16 and 17 levels are also clear to return to training from 8 March.
Head of Youth Performance, Darren Higgins commented on the news saying: “After a long enforced break in what has been a very difficult and challenging time it is great to get the green light to return to training. The dedication our young players have shown to keep working hard whilst away from the club since last March has been exceptional.
“This is not only a great reflection on their character and dedication to the game but the way in which our scholarship and academy coaches, wider support staff and partners have gone above and beyond to continue to support their holistic development and wellbeing. Everyone is raring to go and looking forward to getting back onto the playing field.”