23rd January 2020, 13:52 | england_talent_pathway
Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and St Helens came together just prior to Christmas to run the second year of their innovative England Talent Pathway 14+ Tri-Series.
The programme has been the brainchild of St Helens Rugby League Coaching, Development and Education Manager Craig Richards, Warrington Wolves Foundation’s Community Rugby League Co-Ordinator Lee Mitchell and Wigan Warriors’ Development Officer Tom Marsh alongside the Rugby Football League. They have taken the principles of the ETP programme, built on it and made it specific to their local areas.
All three clubs ran open access sessions for players in their local area who were either U15 and U16 and had not been selected to join a professional club’s Scholarship programme. Over 180 players took part in the three weeks of training and three match day festivals, the coaching was led by staff from the club’s Performance and Foundation departments alongside community club coaches who got the chance to have some hands on Continued Professional Development).
At each festival all players got to play with three pitches each with a St Helens, Warrington and Wigan team in place and being run at differentiated levels of ability. Every player got the opportunity to pull on their hometown team’s colours, and with no score being taken it allowed them freedom to play.
National Player Development Manager, Phil Jones, said: “All three clubs should be congratulated on the time and support they have given to this programme.
“Whilst a number of players have been identified to join the Scholarship scheme, that has not been the major driver, the main motivation is to retain players in the sport and support coaches in the community.
“The things that stand out are the smile on the kids’ faces because they get the chance to play in their club’s colours. You could see their pride simply by the number of selfies being taken.
“Also, the games were played with some creative freedom, without the coaches shouting onto the field and this was supported by the excellent parents on the side lines applauding good play which made it a great experience for the match officials.
“It is also exciting that the three clubs have shared this with their colleagued at other professional clubs but are already planning how to make it better next year as well as setting up monitoring systems to track player retention.”