The Rugby Football League have finalised the line-up for the return of a structured Reserve Grade competition in 2020, with applications from Halifax and Newcastle Thunder accepted.
They will join the 11 English Betfred Super League clubs, plus Bradford Bulls and Widnes Vikings from the Betfred Championship, who each have Category 1 funded Academies.
As previously announced, the Academy will now become an Under-18s competition rather than Under-19s, with the dual registration and loan systems remaining unaffected.
Dave Rotheram, the RFL’s Interim Chief On-Field Officer, said: “We’re pleased to confirm the acceptance of applications from Halifax and Newcastle Thunder to produce a 15-team Reserve Grade competition from 2020.
“Halifax have been committed to the importance of reserve team rugby for a number of years, while Newcastle also submitted a thorough application which stressed the quality and quantity of their player supply through their established Academy structure.
“We have explained to Keighley Cougars and Whitehaven that their applications fell short in meeting some of the essential criteria including that the proposed supply of players for both clubs would have significantly relied upon recruiting players from the community game.
“We will continue to support them, and other clubs, as we monitor the return of the structured Reserve Grade competition next season – which as stated previously, is seen as a vital step in the talent and performance pathway, developing high quality players for Super League and England.”
Reserve Grade, 2020: Bradford Bulls, Castleford Tigers, Halifax, Huddersfield Giants, Hull FC, Hull KR, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos, Newcastle Thunder, Salford Red Devils, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity, Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings, Wigan Warriors.