8th January 2018, 16:37 | Community
In the first of two new playing offers for 2018, the Rugby Football League is pleased to announce the launch of a new 'Player Development League' (PDL), which is to be introduced having held discussions with community clubs and players.
The opportunity to play merit league-style fixtures and take part in other Rugby League activity under the PDL banner will be open to youth and junior teams.
There are no proposals to limit the geographical area covered by the PDL.
The focus will be on teams and clubs who, for a variety of reasons, cannot commit to a full March to October season.
This could include new teams as well as existing teams who perhaps do not have a squad size large enough to sustain a full season in one of the existing competitions.
Meeting demand: In either case, the intention will be to enable those clubs to develop at a rate which suits them until they are able to complete a full March to October season.
Clubs - and potentially school teams - participating in other competitions could also benefit from playing the occasional PDL fixture, although the more formal competitions will always take precedent and permission may be required.
Rugby League Foundations who, through the work being done in the community, have identified additional areas where there is demand for Rugby League activity, will have the option of arranging fixtures as a first step to potentially establishing new community clubs.
Player development will be a key focus of the new offer.
The emphasis will be on playing games rather than results.
Development activity led by Super League Foundations will be built into the league programme with open access development days a key feature.
It is anticipated most of the fixtures will be played between May and August, although teams will be free to arrange fixtures outside of this core period should they wish to do so.
Rugby Football League Head of Growth Marc Lovering said: "The Youth and Junior Leagues do an outstanding job providing a strong competition framework and regular competition for youth and junior players across the country, and we are very respectful of the existing competition framework.
"However, such strong and demanding competitions can act as a barrier for some clubs.
"Equally, other clubs enter such competitions before they are ready because there is no viable alternative and have difficulty fulfilling scheduled fixtures.
"This can cause disruption to the playing leagues and other clubs.
"This is an exciting opportunity both for new clubs to try Rugby League, but also potentially for existing teams who are struggling to recruit a large enough squad to cope with the demands of a full season.
"In either case, this new offer will be complimentary to the existing playing leagues and support clubs and teams until they are ready to transition to or return to a full length playing season.
"The willingness of Super League clubs to support is refreshing, and opportunity will be provided within the league calendar for open access training and development days.
"Salford Red Devils have been involved with the concept from the outset and with the bulk of the teams initially expected to come from the South Manchester/North Cheshire area, although we have received enquiries from across the country, it's great to see other Super League Foundations also signal a willingness to get involved.
"The aim is to make it as easy and as convenient as possible for teams to play Rugby League.
"They can play with a regularity that suits them at a time that suits them. The registration process will be online, and administration will be kept to a minimum."
Clubs who wish to register an interest or require further details should contact the RFL'’s Head of Growth Marc Lovering on: firstname.lastname@example.org.