England captains Sean O’Loughlin and Lois Forsell are backing a new way for youth and junior players to compete with their friends against an opposing team using their core Rugby League skills.
The ‘Virtual Club’ and ‘Virtual Game Day’ are new RFL initiatives which build on the skills and fitness resources #SkillToPlay and #FitToPlay for youth and junior clubs.
O’Loughlin, the Wigan legend who led his country into the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, said: “As players we want to show our skills and we are competitive – we want to win! Being part of a team is what makes Rugby League so great. So it’s great to see a way for young players to play as a team again, working together – even though they’re at home – to compete against the opposition. I hope clubs sign up for the Virtual Game Day weekend and have a lot of fun.”
Forsell, who was recently appointed Head Coach of Leeds Rhinos after injury ended her outstanding playing career, added: “We are all finding new and different ways to stay involved in the sport we love – Virtual Clubs will be especially good as we can chat to our team-mates and keep that ‘one team’ feeling. I’d encourage all clubs to sign up and have a go, including girls’ teams. Rugby League on the pitch will be back but, in the meantime, this is an enjoyable way to bring teams together. Go for it!”
The first full weekend of ‘Virtual Game Days’ will be 30/31 May.
Marc Lovering, the RFL’s Participation and Development Director, explained: “We are all in need of a Rugby League fix. And until playing full matches is permitted, we have developed virtual games which bring teams back together online and outside in their own gardens. The team coach can guide the team through the skills and challenges needed to score against the opposition. At ‘half-time’ the team regroups ready for the second half and more fun. The teams who took part in our pilots loved the opportunity to be ‘back together’ online, learn new skills and put them into action against their opponents.
“Using #SkillToPlay and #FitToPlay, the Virtual Club and Virtual Game Day is a great way for players to really connect to each other again as a team – and work together – which is the essence of team sport. We know players want to compete, so the virtual games are set up to let them do that using all the key elements of Rugby League.”
Junior and Youth teams are invited to register their interest ahead of the first weekend of virtual games – and game cards and easy guidance will be sent to coaches.
To register, please complete the Virtual Fixtures – Team registration form.