Salford Red Devils have agreed a groundbreaking strategic partnership agreement with Wales Rugby League, which will focus on the provision of a player talent pathway and coach development.
The Wales Rugby League National Development Academy in partnership with Salford Red Devils will be the only RFL accredited Development Academy in Wales and will look to continue the illustrious history of Welsh talent in the Salford ranks, which dates back to 1896 and spans across 147 players.
Salford Red Devils director of rugby and operations Ian Blease said: “I am really excited about forming this partnership with the Welsh RL and Coleg Y Cymoedd in the heartlands of Wales.
“Within its history, Salford Red Devils has given some fine Welsh players a chance to show their skills at the elite level and they have made a profound impression upon our club.
“I have been fortunate to play alongside a few of them along the way and they are now friends for life.
“This new partnership puts our club at the forefront of recruiting players across Wales and my thanks go to Gareth Kear, Mark Jones, Paul Trainor and Neil Blackburn for their work towards this agreement.
“For the first time in a long time, we are now recruiting a Rugby Development Coach who will be embed within our rugby pathway for Coleg Y Cymoedd in Wales and will hopefully breed and unearth the talent for our club and that has been coming through into rugby league for many years now.
“This is an exciting time for our club and another big step towards our vision of creating a legacy within our rugby strategy, which Salford Red Devils will be proud of for years to come.”
The approach to player development in Wales aligns perfectly with the ethos and culture at Salford, where great importance is placed upon personal character and educational development, as well as focus physical ability and rugby league specific skillsets.
I addition to providing the best young Welsh players a potential route to Super League, with the opportunity to progress through the Salford Red Devils player pathway programme, the club will also provide support and professional development to coaches. Focus in this area will particularly target the Wales Rugby League National Development Academy.
Gareth Kear, Wales Rugby League CEO said: “This is the perfect partnership in terms of history, geographic location and most importantly our joint values of inclusion, diversity and equality.
“Together we will work to identify and develop the rich source of rugby league talent that has always existed in Wales, as well as providing outreach projects in deprived areas to make our sport accessible to all.”
Head of rugby league at Coleg Y Cymoedd, Mark Jones, added: “Coleg Cymoedd are very excited to become an official partner with Salford Red Devils.
“We are very impressed with the work Salford are doing with their development pathways and Foundation.
“After numerous meetings with Ian Blease and Paul Trainor, it was evident that we all held the same beliefs and ethos towards the development of young players. With Salford Red Devils’ history of signing Welsh players, the partnership is a natural fit for Coleg y Cymoedd and the WRL National Development Academy which is based at Ystrad Mynach.
“We are the only college in Wales that offers a full time rugby league programme alongside a student’s education and Welsh players will now have a direct pathway to achieve their dreams of playing Super League.”
For more information on the Wales Rugby League National Development Academy, please email [email protected], or call Mark Jones on 07886 654933.