Saints and Cowley International College have joined forces to offer an unique partnership which will allow students to play rugby while studying.
A new ‘Saints Academy Development Programme’ will launch in September 2017 and will offer school leavers the opportunity to represent the ‘Cowley Saints’ academy team alongside continuing their Sixth Form education at Cowley International College.
Category 3 Academies offer students a pathway to professional Rugby League within an education setting. Any college that has this RFL accredited status has a formal partnership with a Professional Rugby League Club and is fully committed to providing a high-performance player development environment that meets the RFL standards, while allowing students to continue their further education study.
The new set-up will provide an additional tier in the “outstanding” rated Saints Player Performance Pathway.
Highly qualified, professional rugby league coaches from Saints will lead all practical elements including regular training sessions, strength and conditioning support, nutritional advice and will see the students competing regularly against other category 3 college academies in very competitive college rugby league competitions.
Neil Kilshaw, Saints’ head of youth, said: “The new category 3 Academy is a very exciting concept that further enhances playing opportunities and increase the number of local youngsters playing under the ‘Saints’ banner in the future.
“Lads playing for the ‘Cowley Saints’ will receive quality coaching in a first-class environment and will have the opportunity to impress and hopefully earn the right to continue on the player pathway with us and step up into the under 19’s academy, all of this with the importance of their education at the forefront of their thinking.
“We also think that the programme will allow us to monitor, and offer another chance, to players who may not be quite ready for under 19’s rugby yet, others that may deserve a second chance, late developers and newcomers to our sport.”
Matt Hesketh, director of Cowley Sixth Form, added: “We are really excited about this new partnership which will enable students of all academic abilities and who have a passion for rugby league to learn and play on the same campus.
“Students can leave lessons and in a matter of minutes be in the Saints official training area or on the floodlit 3G receiving coaching from top professionals.
“The regular training and weekly matches will dovetail with their College timetable, so that neither is compromised.”