WRL forge new links with Wigan Warriors

Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club announces a ground-breaking new Partnership to support the development of Rugby League throughout Wales with a particular focus on improving significantly the standard of Wales Rugby League prior to the 2013 World Cup, which is jointly hosted by England and Wales.

The Partnership is between Wigan and the Governing Body of Wales Rugby League with a separate Partnership agreed between Wigan and South Wales Scorpions who compete in Championship 1. Other Welsh Championship 1 clubs may take advantage of these partnership agreements if they wish in order to develop Welsh players.

In addition to the landmark announcement which was held in the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff on Thursday, the Wigan Club also announces the signing of three of Wales’ most promising young players. 18 year old Centre Rhodri Lloyd, Prop Forward Gil Dudson and Back Row Forward Ben Flower, all born and raised in South Wales will join up again with Wales National Coach, Iestyn Harris, at the DW Stadium in 2012.

Wigan Warriors staff will support the game directly in South Wales with Cardiff-born Dave Clark – the former Wigan Player Development Coach and 2009 Championship Coach of the Year during his time at Barrow – permanently based there for Wigan where he will combine the role with his new position as Head Coach of South Wales Scorpions.

Chairman Ian Lenagan and Rugby General Manager Kris Radlinski, plus staff from the Club’s highly acclaimed Youth Development Programme, Sports Science Department and Marketing Team will spend time advising and working with all facets of the game to improve profile, coaching standards, scouting infrastructure and pathway development for talented young Welsh Rugby League players.

Former Warriors player Andy Coley, who retired at the end of 2011, will also take up a new role with the Club to oversee the partnership in Wales. The position will be combined with a welfare role supporting Wigan players and a role in the Club’s new Central Park Work & Sporting Excellence Academy.

The Wigan Club will also be working to create two new Work and Sport Academies in Wales based upon the Work Academy opened in Wigan last week with great acclaim. These offer vocational training opportunities to young people not in education, employment or training (NEETS) in Sport and Active Leisure, and in Construction, Hospitality and Catering, Hair and Beauty and Land Skills with a particular focus on both codes of Rugby. These Academies will take advantage of the cutting-edge technology which is provided by InnovEd, Wigan Warriors’ Software Company, Virtual Learning and e-Learning Provider.

Wales Rugby League will also have access to Wigan’s World Class training facilities in the North West of England.

Speaking about the partnership Wigan Chairman Ian Lenagan said:

“We are proud of the fact that we at Wigan have generated more home-grown players for the Home Nations National Teams than any other club and are committed to raising the standard of competitiveness generally in the Northern Hemisphere for Wales and consequently for England.

“We want to help grow the sport of Rugby League in Wales and ultimately to help them become more competitive on the International Stage in time for the World Cup by offering advice and support and applying our expertise to the development of young rugby players in Wales.

“The pathways are clear. Our scouting network will help identify talent and feed this into the Wales RL Academy and South Wales Scorpions and then into representative teams with a preferred route into the Wigan Club at Super League level for exceptional players or back into the semi-professional structures at South Wales Scorpions or North Wales Crusaders.”

Chairperson of Wales Rugby League, Janet Ryder said:

“I think it’s a momentous opportunity for Wales Rugby League to be in a partnership with the best known team in World Rugby League. It gives everyone involved in Rugby League in Wales the opportunity to learn and prosper from the best and we in Wales Rugby League can’t wait to get started”.

Scorpions chairman Phil Davies added:

“We’re really delighted to have linked up with Wigan Warriors, probably the most famous Rugby League club in the world, and an organisation with one of the best reputations for developing young players.

“With this link, we will be able to mutually assist each other in regards to player and team development which will be very beneficial to both parties – money can’t buy the assistance we will be getting from Wigan, especially in regards to dual registration.

“I would like to give a big thanks to Ian Lenagan and the team up at Wigan Warriors for all of their help and hard work that has gone in to putting this package together.

“Wigan have a long history of fielding Welsh players from Jim Sullivan to Billy Boston to Scott Quinnell, just three of the many who have graced the famous Cherry and White shirt. We hope that with this link-up we’ll see many more young Welsh stars play for Wigan which will be of massive benefit for the Welsh National side.

“We’re delighted that Dave Clark, who has been a Community and Development Coach at Wigan recently, has accepted the job as our new Head Coach at South Wales Scorpions. Dave was born in Cardiff and is returning to his South Wales roots and really wants the game to flourish in this area. He has a wealth of Head Coaching experience at Barrow and we believe that he is the right choice to lead the Scorpions going forward.”

The partnership commences with immediate effect and is fully endorsed by the Rugby Football League and Rugby League International Federation.