In a salary cap sport like rugby league one of the key areas for success is having a talented and developed pathways system for young stars to constantly find their way into the first team.
Looking back at Super League history it’s something that’s been prevalent at all four of the sides to lift the title with St Helens being the latest side to have a force of an academy.
One side who is aspiring to develop their youth system to be on par with the likes of Saints, Leeds and Wigan is Hull FC and yesterday’s triple-header saw an incredible 12 Sports College players on show.
The Hull FC Sports College is comparable to a pathways or standard academy system but it ensures that those players remain in education, with the academy and the sports college based in the same place which helps to develop both academic and rugby skills.
FC played a triple-header event with Sheffield Eagles with the wheelchair side kicking off in the morning, the women’s at midday and the men’s teams taking to the field at 3pm.
Across those three fixtures the sports college had an incredible 12 representatives on show with seven featuring for Tony Smith’s side, four for the women’s team and one wheelchair representative as well.
In Smith’s side players like Matty Laidlaw, Harvey Barron and Nick Staveley have all finished their Sports College studies and therefore will be in full rugby league focus mode, however there are four others who are still at the College.
In a statement on FC’s site they explained: “First-team players Davy Litten, Lewis Martin, Manoa Wacokecoke and Zach Jebson came off the bench to feature in the second-half of the pre-season friendly at Olympic Legacy Park, with Litten going close to scoring on three separate occasions.
“All four players have their education built around their busy training schedules, enabling them to develop their skills in more way than one with Hull FC.”
The triple-header was a huge success as well with three incredibly competitive games with Connor Sweeney representing the College in the wheelchair match that finished 26-26.
As for the women’s team they edged out the Eagles 26-24 with Abbi Turner, Poppy Lyon, Charlie Lawson and Alisha Roper all featuring and hopefully plenty more Hull FC women’s team will develop at the Sports College after it saw a 300% increase in female students for the 2022/23 academic year.
Information on Hull FC and their Sports College can be found here.