Coleg Y Cymoedd, a further education college in Rhondda Cynon Taff, has been awarded the status of an Accredited Rugby Football League Category 3 Academy.
This award is given on a continual rolling annual basis subject to twice annual reviews being satisfactory.
It means that Rugby League will be taught full-time in the college and it will be a valuable pathway from the Wales under 16 side up to South Wales Scorpions, who are based in Mountain Ash.
Mark Jones, who has worked at National Development Manager at Wales Rugby League since 2009, has as a result, transferred over to Coleg Y Cymoedd.
Jones will be assisted in his role by South Wales Scorpions players who will assist in coaching with Paul Emanuelli having already taken sessions.
Jones said: “We are delighted that Coleg Y Cymoedd is now officially an Accredited RFL Category 3 Academy. This is a result of a year’s worth of hard work by a number of people to get this established.
“The Academy will be a valuable link to anyone who wants to continue in Rugby League on a part or full-time basis be it with South Wales Scorpions, our community clubs and we hope those who are outstanding will be picked up by Super League clubs and play for Wales.
“We are still recruiting for this year for our Rugby League BTEC level 3 and are looking for any players aged 16 to 19 years old.”
The Academy had its first run out on Wednesday 30th September when they competed in a South West based Nines tournament, eventually winning the Plate Final, beating the more experienced Swansea and Bath Universities on the way.
Jones adds: “The boys were superb against senior players and played with great shape. It was an excellent start to the season. Now we take on Cardiff Met next Wednesday at Cyncoed at 2pm.”
On the scoresheet in their first ever event were Liam Silver with seven tries, Dewi Billingham, Jordan Gilbert and Lewys Willacott with two each. Power play tries were scored by Lewis Jones, Liam Silver and Jordan Gilbert.
Potential players can apply for the academy online at www.cymoedd.ac.uk/courses/all-courses.aspx.