Player Development Leagues, are a fun and flexible way of accessing Rugby League.

What is it?

Player Development Leagues, are a fun and flexible way of accessing Rugby League.

There are currently three main types of activity that sit underneath this umbrella programme.

Merit League

For clubs wishing to access fixtures against clubs who also find accessing fixtures difficult due geography or resources.

Development Leagues

These are new competitions which offer playing opportunities on a central festival basis where the emphasis of the festivals is on fun, enjoyment and inclusiveness. These are ideal for new clubs in areas where there is not already a playing outlet.

Existing Competitions Offering Integrated Development Festivals

This is where established competitions are offering development days as part of their calendar of playing opportunities. Once again the main ethos is on fun, enjoyment and inclusion. The days see players play small sided games with a different set of rules, the days can be open access which encourages existing teams to bring along new players to try rugby league. Players can be mixed up on the day or stay part of their current team.


The Player Development League ethos begins to address the findings of the 12 – 18-year-old game review, which identifies the following key findings as challenges to get more players playing the sport.

  • Touchline Behaviours
  • Over Competitive Environments
  • Competition Logistics
  • Volunteer Support
  • Match Official Development
  • Coach Development  

As young players are different now than they were 5, 10 and 15 years ago then the sport needs to continue to evolve how the sport is offered, so that the game is fun and can meet the needs of young players.


The festivals are for development teams up and down the country where they can access any of the festivals. For existing teams then they should speak to their playing league about plans for the future. 2020 will see all leagues pilot this activity at various age groups. In most instances the days are open access for children within the right age group able to attend.


Led by passionate and enthusiastic coaches, PDL sessions are fun festivals which will run over a two hour period. Game formats vary region by region and even by festival to festival. Most formats will involve tackling.

As the focus on the day is on development then no scores will be recorded, the challenge is for players to use the days to develop all aspects of their game, from technical and tactical elements to social skills such as a team work and communication.

You don’t need any special kit to take part, however rugby boots and a shirt would be recommended. Make sure you bring some water and that you’ve had a snack a couple of hours before your session so you’ve got plenty of energy!

What does the RFL Offer?

The RFL is supporting all participating regions with leadership and resources to be able to deliver the festivals.