Castleford Tigers have appointed England Women’s Analyst Matty Faulkner as the new Women’s Head Coach and Education & Pathway Manager.
The 27-year-old has a wealth of experience in rugby league after beginning his journey as a youngster playing and then heading to university to study sports coaching, from there Faulkner focused on coaching, analysis, and recruitment.
At Hull KR Faulkner worked as a coach working in the community, and with Rovers’ Scholarship & Academy teams, and when the City of Hull Academy was formed, he worked in the scouting and recruitment team with a particular focus on recruiting players from different backgrounds and increasing the talent pool.
Following the split of the City of Hull Academy, Matty made the move to Hull FC taking up a player performance management role, putting programmes in place to ensure pathways towards elite rugby league and giving broader ages opportunities to progress.
The opportunity to work with the Tigers’ youth players and women’s team was one Matty strongly wanted to take, speaking to castlefordtigers.com he said: “I’m excited to be joining Castleford Tigers, I’ll be doing recruitment for our College programme as Education & Pathway Manager, and as Head Coach of the Women we’re going to build a girls programme so we have a pathway for girls to come through and be Tigers players.
“It’s time for me to move onto something different and try my hand at something new in a new area, give myself another challenge. That is the reason I’m joining Cas, I want to make a difference to what we do, support the coaching team and lead the Women’s team as best I can.”
Following the Rugby League World Cup in 2017, Faulkner became the England Women’s Analyst, working with the coaching setup headed up by Craig Richards, and this allowed him incredible insight into the women’s game at the top level.
“It’s given me some of the best experiences of my life in rugby league, touring Papua New Guinea and going to France the other month, I’ve really enjoyed working with them. A big part of my decision was how easy it is and what a good group of women the players are to work with, it helped make my decision to come to Cas and support the women’s game this way. So, if I can do it from a ground-level up into England, hopefully, we can produce even more England Women’s players coming through at Cas.”
Faulkner is excited to get to work and lay down the pathway foundations for women’s players going forward.
“It’s something that may have lacked over the last year or so with girls bouncing between different clubs, or clubs taking different players, but if we can make our own pathway and make ourselves self-sustainable that we aren’t relying upon girls coming from other clubs and trying to take the good players who are out there and move them around between different clubs. If we can produce our own, I think that will be the goal moving forward.
“I’m hoping we can get Cas Women to where they were, raise some standards, and the girls who are here obviously want to play for Castleford. That is the main thing, you want players to want to play for Cas Tigers and be on that pathway to help Cas win games, get in that play-off picture, and hopefully compete in that top league.”
As Education & Pathway Manager, Faulkner will be working closely with our College programme and working across the Tigers’ youth department too, with a particular focus on the Club’s routes to elite-level squads.
“Different pathways within rugby league are hugely important, it’s a late maturation sport so the people who are the biggest and best players at 14 are not necessarily the best when it comes to be 18, 19 or 20. Some players who have never played rugby before up until being 15, 16, surprise you with different skillsets from different sports such as football, basketball, or rugby union – those skillsets can support a rugby league player.
“Everyone grows at different rates, so you never know what people are going to do so, the Scholarship is massive and getting the right people onto the Scholarship pathway. Development squads and the Tigers Talent Pathway for people who haven’t been picked up that early are really good opportunities for people to get picked up that early.
“The college is even better, people can come into the college and give themselves every opportunity to progress into an Academy or First Team deal – it’s the ones who want it who turn up, want to train, want to play, they’re the ones who will give themselves the best opportunity to progress. There are plenty of stories of people who are 18/19 who get their first shot at Academy and grasp to move into First Team and play Super League within a couple of years of joining a system. It’s needed, it just increases your net, your talent pool more, you cannot close the door at 14 and expect the twenty players you brought through Scholarship to be the ones who come through, there always needs to be a way in and hopefully we will be able to provide that.”