23rd February 2021, 09:37 | thunder
The development of Rugby League in the North East will expand significantly in 2021 as the award-winning Newcastle Rugby Foundation announce exciting expansion plans to the Newcastle Thunder community department.
Rugby League has seen a 40% growth in participation in the North East of England over the past five years and now the addition of three new members of staff to the Newcastle Thunder Foundation will result in more playing than ever before participating in the sport.
Over 1300 players are currently registered at the 15 community rugby league clubs in the region, with growth of school teams, community club’s or variants such as touch, PDRL/LDRL or Wheelchair Rugby League being targeted by the new look community team.
The North East will host five games of the Men’s 2021 Rugby League World Cup including the opening fixture of the tournament as England face Samoa at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park.
Chair of the Newcastle Rugby Foundation, Mick Hogan, said: “This is a really exciting development for Rugby League in the North East, particularly with the Rugby League World Cup kicking off in Newcastle this October.
“We are building on the success of our development programme and the creation of new clubs like Newcastle Magpies and Wallsend Centurions is a real positive, particularly in the areas where there traditionally hasn’t been Rugby League activity.
“Accessibility and inclusivity will remain at the heart of everything we do. The Foundation, along with our partners, are driving up the numbers of young people playing the game in schools. It is important we transition these new players into clubs all across the region which will ultimately result in a stronger Newcastle Thunder.”
There will be a focus on club development in the North of Tyne, South of Tyne and Tees Valley, in order to create new participation opportunities and on school engagement via the Sky Try and Thunder School Connections programmes.
There will also be a focus on those who have been involved in the game’s past via a North East Rugby League heritage programme.
In addition, Thunder’s coaching camp programme will be expanded with dates set to be hosted both at Kingston Park and community clubs every school holiday while enhanced pre-match activation at home Championship and cup matches will serve to make matchdays even bigger.
Jan Robinson – Chair of NERL – said: “2020 was a difficult year for everyone and as we return to a ‘new normal’ in 2021 we have much to look forward to in the North East, not only in terms of a playing season, but also our local team in the Championship, and the Rugby League World Cup with significant games in our area.
“It is very pleasing to see that the Foundation will be there to support and develop Rugby League in the North East as we aim to ‘Build Back Better’.”