Academy level players will make their long-awaited and eagerly anticipated return to Rugby League next month, following the government’s announcement of a gradual easing of lockdown restrictions.
Those clubs in Super League and Championship with Academies, including Saints, have been given the go-ahead to begin pre-season training from Monday 8 March – almost 12 months since they last played competitive Rugby League.
However, continuing public health concerns mean that there will be no formal Academy competition in 2021. The playing format is set to be discussed in more detail with clubs next week.
RFL Chief On-Field Officer, Dave Rotheram, said: “This is another big step in the right direction for Rugby League’s Talent Pathway. It’s been a long time coming and everybody connected with the Academy game – players, clubs, coaches – is keen to get down to business and make up for lost time.
“It won’t be plain sailing and we have to tread carefully, especially in respect of player welfare. Covid continues to present considerable logistical challenges and young players will need time to adjust to a return to collision sport.
“We feel that a competitive league structure and full fixture list isn’t appropriate this year, so will instead work towards a formula that affords as many playing opportunities as possible for players who have missed so much in the last 12 months.”
Scholarship players at under 16 and 17 levels are also clear to return to training from 8 March.