6th February 2020, 14:55 | university

Leeds Beckett link up with Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Beckett link up with Leeds Rhinos

Rugby League players at Leeds Beckett University now have a direct pathway to play in Super League thanks to a ground-breaking partnership 

The university has teamed up with Leeds Rhinos to give students the opportunity to try out for the Super League club’s reserve team. 

The partnership is the first in the country to provide students a direct pathway to Super League and follow in the footsteps of LBU graduates, and Super League Grand Final winners, Alex Walmsley and Jimmy Keinhorst.

LBU Rugby League head coach Paul Fletcher believes the pathway will also attract more players to the university. 

He said: “The partnership will allow players the chance to represent the university and work towards playing in Super League, following in the footsteps of our graduates who have gone on to play at the pinnacle of Rugby League.

“The opportunity is now there for students to play for one of the best Rugby League clubs in the world and we will be working with the Rhinos to provide the best pathway possible for our students.” 

The reserve team - coached by former Leeds Rhinos star Rob Burrow - will compete for the first time in 2020.

It comes after the second-grade initiative was approved by both the Rugby Football League and Super League. 

Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield, himself a Leeds Beckett alumni, commented, “Student Rugby League is a massive growth area for the sport. This partnership shows how players, particularly those who have developed late in the game, can still have a pathway to professional Rugby League.” 

Adam Hughes, Education Lead at the RFL continued, ‘It is great to see this partnership coming to fruition between Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Beckett. At the RFL we are hoping to facilitate more relationships between Universities and professional clubs to support the reintroduction of the reserve grade competition. This provides an alternative route for young athletes to excel in Rugby League alongside their chosen course of study.’

If you are interested in exploring a partnership between a professional club and a University, please contact adam.hughes@rfl.co.uk

The RFL Reserves Championship kicked off last weekend, with Warrington Wolves surging to the top of the table with a 48-0 win against Newcastle Thunder.

There were plenty of familiar names in the Wolves team – Dec Patton, Josh Thewlis and new signings Keanan Brand and Leilani Latu – and that was a theme of the opening round.

Hull FC fielded Albert Kelly and Mahe Fonua in their team against Bradford, meaning the Bulls could draw plenty of positives in a narrow 20-18 defeat, while the return of Reserve Grade also provided opportunities for recent Academy internationals to shine – notably Harry Smith in Wigan’s 52-10 win at Widnes, Lewis Dodd in St Helens’ 24-22 win against Salford, and Innes Senior and Oliver Wilson in Huddersfield’s 52-12 win against London Broncos.

There are six more games this weekend, with Castleford Tigers kicking off their programme at Widnes on Saturday, and Leeds Rhinos making their Reserves return at Wakefield on Sunday. 

Warrington go to Huddersfield on Monday night, while Wigan face Hull and Saints travel to Ealing Trailfinders to play London in a curtain-raiser before the Broncos’ home Betfred Championship opener against Whitehaven on Sunday afternoon.

RFL Reserves Championship Results, Round 1: Huddersfield Giants 52 London Broncos 12, Hull FC 20 Bradford Bulls 18, Hull KR 26 Wakefield Trinity 22, St Helens 24 Salford Red Devils 22, Warrington Wolves 48 Newcastle Thunder 0, Widnes Vikings 10 Wigan Warriors 52.

Fixtures, Round 2: Saturday February 8: Newcastle Thunder v Salford Red Devils, Widnes Vikings v Castleford Tigers; Sunday February 9 – London Broncos v St Helens, Wakefield Trinity v Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors v Hull FC; Monday February 10 – Huddersfield Giants v Warrington Wolves.