12 players joined in the taster session at Hunslet Club Parkside organised by South Leeds Development Officer Richard Tate
Over 100 boys and girls from across Leeds attended a Sky Try Taster rugby league session with Leeds Rhinos Foundation's Rugby League Development coaches last week.
In the build up to the week of taster sessions, coaches worked in 12 primary schools from the catchment area of four community clubs including Hunslet Club Parkside, Farnley Falcons, Guiseley Rangers and Garfoth Tigers providing a four-week introduction to rugby league throughout the school term.
The school coaching introduces pupils from years 1 and 2 to the sport, delivering RFL approved primary rugby league lessons, before signposting the pupils to their local club's taster sessions taking place last week.
Sky Try funding has seen Leeds Rhinos Foundation support 20 community clubs to set up under 7s age groups in the city over the last three years, improving the number of young new players playing Rugby League.
Alongside players joining junior boys teams, 15 girls in years 6-9 were also given a rugby club introduction with Women and Girl's Development Officer Lois Forsell, who ran two separate taster sessions with West Leeds and Oulton Raidettes to recruit for their under 12s and 14s age groups.
Rugby League Development Plan officer Leon Crick commented on a busy week of recruitment for the Foundation.
"We are delighted to see that our work with year 1 and 2 pupils in primary schools and with girls in secondary schools is really having an impact on the numbers coming through and playing the game at the junior level. These players can now grow into the game in a fun environment around their friends, which is the best place to learn," said Crick.
"When we started out with our Rugby League Development Plan in 2013, we wanted, among other things, to increase participation in the sport by giving every schoolchild in Leeds the opportunity to play and participate in the sport."
"The Sky Try programme we deliver is providing that initial opportunity to play rugby in school and then our officers are following that up with taster sessions at clubs to sustain that interest and provide more players coming through the age groups from a young age," he added.
An impressive number of young players turned out for taster sessions during the week including 42 players at Guiseley Rangers, which is vital for the continued growth of the club according to Club Development Manager Helen Schofield:
"We are wanting to launch an under 7s team and an under 8s team and just to relaunch the club really, we had a £75,000 grant from Sport England at the end of last year to help build new pitch side changing rooms being built as we speak so to get so many kids here tonight is a massive boost.
"Joe has done a fantastic job getting children to come along from his work in schools in the area and we will now look after those kids that have joined us but also carry on this recruitment, working in some of the areas we don't get many players from usually to continue to expand all of our teams," she added.
For more information on Leeds Rhinos Foundation's Rugby League Development Plan sponsored by Mears and Sky Try contact Leon.Crick@leedsrhinosfoundation.org