Big club finally awarded Elite Academy licence after two years of waiting

Bradford Bulls have announced that they have been awarded an ‘Elite Academy Licence’ running until the end of 2027.

The club had been awarded a probationary licence from June 2021 lasting until May 2023, giving up to two years to make the necessary steps towards regaining an ‘Elite Licence’.

We have worked closely with the RFL over recent months to make the required improvements, with an Independent Auditor giving our Academy an official rating of ‘Good’.

Head of Youth Ryan Hunkin said:

“I am delighted to receive the news that we have regained our Elite Academy Licence, this is fantastic news for the everyone involved in the academy such as staff, volunteers, players, and families.

I’d personally like to thank the RFL and the club for the support and guidance over the last 6 months whilst we have been striving to regain our licence, The appointment of key people within the academy staffing structure has certainly aided our journey, people such as Gareth Pickles our Youth and Academy Director and Jill Elam our academy Player Welfare Manager to name but a few, have been vital to the progression made in such a short time. A special thanks too to Bullbuilder, who continue to be of huge support to us all in the Academy who have helped us make the steps required to regain our licence.

I am now looking forward to continuing the great work alongside our dedicated staff, in ensuring we continue to strive for excellence.”

Following the announcement that the Bradford Bulls have received an Elite Academy licence for the period up to 2027, Bradford Bulls CEO, Jason Hirst said;

“Today’s announcement is testament to the outstanding contribution and difference our new Academy management team, of Ryan Hunkin (Head of Youth), Gareth Pickles (Youth & Academy Director) and Jill Elam (Player Welfare Manager) have made since their appointments circa 6 months ago. Ably supported by various performance staff, they have brought about the required improvements in terms of standards, protocols, procedural adherence and overall management discipline and rigour.

The full reinstatement of our coveted licence ends a period of uncertainty and allows us to be build further on the solid foundations laid by Ryan and his team, as we look to identify and develop more elite players.

It is also testament to the board’s decision two years ago, not to abandon its’ Academy but to instead invest time, effort and personal money into resecuring its’ Elite Academy Status.

The club would also like to pay tribute to sponsors, donators to the club’s Friends of the Young Bulls initiative and BullBuilder for their unwavering and much appreciated support of the club’s Academy and Scholarship sides. Their invaluable contribution helps support the club’s considerable financial commitment to its’ Academy, as we proudly remain the only non-Super League, club inside the sport’s heartlands, to run an Elite Academy.

If any individual, group or business would like to help support the club’s Academy moving forward, please contact

Finally, the club would also like to place on record their thanks to the RFL, for their invaluable advice and support.”

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments