Wakefield To Become Joint-First Women & Girls’ Rugby Development Academy In The UK

Wakefield College and Wakefield Trinity Community Trust have partnered up to become joint-first Women’s Rugby Development Academy in the country.

The Women’s Development Academy is a new project launched by the RFL to structure and professionalise the women’s game from grassroots to Super league and national level. The idea is to work with the college to provide talented female rugby players in the area with a good quality education and dual career that they can use in later life, whilst also developing their rugby skills and ability with regular training sessions and fixtures – similar to the Youth Team model in men’s football.

With the 2021 Women’s Rugby League World Cup around the corner, one aim is to try and get the girls in the academy fast tracked into the England National squad and compete to be world champions. This is where Wakefield Trinity will step in with their coaches and development officers to deliver top quality coaching at the college and FastTrack the girls into elite rugby and their women’s team who are currently competing in the Championship (soon to be Super League).

Part of the programme is to develop the grassroots game in the area and in schools. There is already some great work being done in the community game but, with the introduction of the Women’s Development Academy, it will create a pathway of excellence from juniors to adults alongside study.

The programme is hosted at Wakefield College with the RFL overseeing quality assurance to ensure the standards are high and professional. It’s not just turn up and play sessions (although that option is available at the college), they are well planned sessions in accordance with Wakefield Trinity’s skills matrix and long term development plan. It includes Strength & Conditioning sessions, analysis work, physiotherapy, rehab and injury prevention, psychology and nutrition workshops.

The sessions are done in line with TASS (Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme) in which Wakefield College again were the first in the country to qualify for. TASS is a benchmark of education providers offering dual careers to athletes and providing opportunities for students to compete at the highest level they can (even if in college hours) and receiving the appropriate support to catch up, keep up and strive ahead of the group.

Head of Competitive Sport at the College Ben Severn says,

“By becoming one of the first Women & Girls’ Development Academies, Wakefield College are proud to lead the way growing the sport locally but also hopefully on a national level. There are some very talented girls out there from all sports and backgrounds and by being an official RFL GirlsDevelopment Academy we can hopefully offer them a pathway into elite sport whilst also gaining an education. Whilst the game is not full time and professional it is vital that the students have a dual career where their education and future is not hindered by rugby and vice versa so they are able to perform at the highest possible level. This will hopefully feed a new generation of athletes into women’s rugby league and develop the already successful Super League and Championship to create a real strong opportunity for young aspiring athletes to get involved through Wakefield College and Wakefield Trinity.”

This is echoed by Trinity Community Manager James Stephenson stating,

“We are delighted to be able to announce the partnership, between ourselves and Wakefield College, which has been developing over the last six months. To be able to recruit a Women & Girls Development Officer is huge for the sport but also Rugby League within Wakefield. Beyond the delivery within the college they will be responsible for assisting ourlocal community clubs with their own growth around women & girls Rugby League. The provision will complement our internal Women & Girls Growth Programme known as GirlCode13. While we wish to develop home-grown female athletes, who will feature for Wakefield Trinity Ladies in Super League, we also know that we will help populate other teams which can only be good for the sport. Over 50 girls registered their interest in playing for the Wakefield College Girls Rugby League Academy at the recent recruitment session, so we are optimistic that we will have a quality group to work with and help develop with the Rugby League World Cup in 2021 in mind.”

The move is a really exciting partnership and project to grow the game in the area and be a world leader within the sport.

To get involved with the Women & Girls’ Development Academy as a player, volunteer or supporter please contact Ben Severn on b.severn@wakefield.ac.uk for more information or come along to our open day on Wednesday 17 October, 5pm-7pm at City Campus, Margaret Street, Wakefield, WF1 2DH.

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