Rhinos Talent Pathway programme launches for 2022-23

Leeds Rhinos Foundation is delighted to reveal plans for its new Rhinos Talent Pathway (RTP) programme, which is officially launching for the upcoming academic year.

This new-look player development scheme, which is linked to the RFL’s England Talent Pathway initiative, aims to increase the number of quality rugby league players aged between 12 and 16 and will be the driving force behind providing a clear pathway from the grassroots game into Scholarship, Academy rugby and beyond.

The RTP will also serve as a fantastic opportunity for community rugby league coaches to progress by accessing coach education workshops and professional coaching environments, helping to develop the next generation of leaders who can facilitate the growth of the game.

These coaches will work alongside Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s highly skilled Rugby League Development staff to run RTP sessions which focus on improving the player’s fundamental technical skills, game sense and decision making as well as physical and mental development through high-quality coaching and outstanding nutritional advice.

Whilst the majority of programmes will be delivered within Leeds, the Rhinos Talent Pathway will also extend into Oldham to complement the work Leeds Rhinos Foundation has already carried out in this area to support the development of junior players with Oldham Sixth Form College.

Within the RTP framework, boys from Years 7 to 9 and girls from Years 5 to 11 will be invited to attend Player Development Days each half term, where they will be offered a holistic provision from a technical, tactical, physical and mental perspective in addition to parent education workshops.

Meanwhile, at the critical Year 10 and 11 age groups there will be a robust offer for boys who have not been selected onto a Scholarship programme with a professional club. This provision includes a block of weekly coaching sessions in line with the Rhinos Academy structures leading up to half term, during which they will then have a chance to represent the Rhinos in development fixtures and festivals against other Foundations.

This extensive timetable of opportunities will link to the recently launched North v South Player Development Series in the summer months, where players can continue their development and showcase their skills by performing in a competitive and challenging environment.

Upon completion of the programme, players will be presented with avenues to continue their Rugby League journey by signposting them towards the Leeds Rhinos Foundation Development Academy, a groundbreaking sports education programme for both boys and girls run in partnership with Leeds City College.

The Rhinos Talent Pathway is primarily designed to provide open-access opportunities for aspiring players currently involved in the game to fulfil their potential, but also hopes to create transfer opportunities for athletes involved with other sports who may be yet to unearth their skills.

Darren Higgins, Rugby League Development Co-Ordinator for Leeds Rhinos Foundation said: “The relaunch of the Rhinos Talent Pathway programme comes at an exciting time for the game with the Rugby League World Cup just around the corner.  As a charity we are committed to creating opportunities for players to develop and fulfil their potential and we believe our Rhinos Talent Pathway, which has been endorsed by the RFL, is the best way to do this.

“It is not only local players who will benefit from this programme, local coaches will also have the opportunity to apply for coaching roles, access internal CPD and develop their skills on the programme.

“We fully expect that, in time, this approach will create huge benefits for the junior game and community clubs with coaches going back to clubs with new ideas and improved coaching practices as a result of their involvement on the programme.

“Given that Rugby League is a late specialisation sport, we fully expect to see a number of players progress in future years via the various routes which can be taken on our Rhinos Talent Pathway. This will also be a huge benefit to the sport in general from a player retention perspective, with players now having more reasons to keep playing the game.

Lois Forsell, Women & Girls Development Officer for Leeds Rhinos Foundation commented: “This exciting development of the new Rhinos Talent Pathway programme not only helps connect the girls game and local community clubs to our 16’s and 19’s academy plus our development academy with Leeds City College, but also compliments the games wider player development offers with under 15’s and 16’s hubs run by the RFL.

“As the Women and Girls game continues to grow, players will only benefit from the holistic provision that the RTP will provide and opportunities will arise for new players to come into the sport through the coaching of talented athletes from other sports.”

Details of sessions running across all age groups on the Rhinos Talent Pathway will be announced shortly, with the Year 10 and 11 Boys programme the first to get underway on Monday 19th September.

For further information about the Rhinos Talent Pathway and the opportunities available for junior players, contact darren.higgins@leedsrhinosfoundation.org.