Super League club finally able to launch academy

Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and St Helens have built their success on their academies and clubs like Hull FC, Hull KR and Warrington Wolves have all tried to emulate this.

But some clubs simply do not have academies which is of course problematic for the clubs and Super League itself.

There was uproar in recent times when Castleford Tigers and Bradford Bulls were denied an elite academy licence.

Meanwhile, Leigh Leopards have been open about wanting an academy but don’t have one but they have now been able to launch an academy in partnership with Wigan and Leigh College.

This collaboration aims to develop a youth pathway from under-14’s into college, progressing into a professional environment. The partnership will create exceptional opportunities for students, enriching their educational journey and fostering the growth and development of rugby within the Borough.

Leigh Leopards Head of Youth Kieron Purtill said: “This is an extremely exciting partnership between Leigh Leopards and Wigan and Leigh College. One that is only going to grow from strength to strength.

“The Development Academy allows a pathway for players both coming through our open access training days and LEAP squad members as well as other aspiring rugby players.

“It allows players to develop both on and off the pitch with education being a very important part of the programme. As a club this is the first step working towards a full Youth Development Programme.

“The educational courses and facilities available through the college are first class. To offer this plus the chance for students to travel to Jamaica and collaborate with Jamaica RL through the Turing scheme, makes this the most exciting college programme to be involved in.

“A massive thanks to everyone at the college who have been involved in agreeing and buying into the vision the club has for our future young players.”

Wigan and Leigh College has a longstanding commitment to providing its students with experiences that enhance both their academic and personal development. The partnership with Leigh Leopards perfectly aligns with this, offering numerous benefits to students and the college alike:

· Students will gain access to specialised training sessions, workshops, and mentorship programmes led by Head of Youth Kieron Purtill. These interactions will provide unique insights into the world of professional rugby and help students develop essential life skills such as teamwork, leadership, and discipline.

· Nurturing talent from an early stage, providing students with a comprehensive pathway to enhance their rugby skills and potentially pursue a career in the sport.

· Strengthening links between the college and the local community. By supporting Leigh Leopards and participating in community outreach initiatives, students will contribute positively to the local borough.

Wigan and Leigh College Head of Sport and Public Services Gareth Hayes said, “We are excited to relaunch the partnership with Leigh Leopards. The club have outlined their commitment to nurturing young talent and promoting sporting excellence.

“This aligns with our vision of providing our students with holistic educational experiences that prepare them for success.

“The most exciting aspect of this partnership is the opportunity, as Kieron mentions, for students to travel to Jamaica. This cross-cultural exchange will not only contribute to the development of rugby internationally but also offer students a global perspective and a chance to broaden their horizons.”