A Bolton Development Perspective

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog but that doesn’t mean that nothing has been happening.

I’m in mostly high schools at the moment, concentrating on getting some Merit League fixtures arranged. We’ve had some good suc cess with some mini festivals and I’ve seen some great talent.

We’ve come up with the idea that we are going to run a Bolton Rugby League Academy, which is going to be under Service Area level. It’s something for the town and something it’s never had before.

It will be a combined year seven and eight, and a combined year nine and ten academy. We are probably looking at twenty players for each combined age group. It will act like a talent centre academy where we can try and develop some players and play a few fixtures if they can.

For those people not aware of the Merit League, it is a league for the schools to play in through the winter months. We’ve only set it up this year. They play the fixtures and from that there are league champions at each age group. During the summer months we run week-to-week festivals for the high schools with a cup presented to the winners at the end of that.

I come under Bolton, Bury and Rochdale so it’s pretty similar to what is being run in those areas. Locally Rochdale are probably out in front with their players as they’ve been running a bit longer. I can honestly say that it’s coming on in leaps and bounds for Bolton. It’s great to see everyone playing rugby and I’ve got the same hunger for this as when I play.

In watching these games I’m in the perfect position to identify talent. I give out letters to those that I think can develop and they push on and join clubs or link with the combined academy. We are also going to invite Leigh player performance manager Gary Eccleston up when we hold our development camp to see if he can spot anyone.

There are a few schools over Horwich way such as St Josephs and Rivington where the kids do actually come from Wigan so they are playing rugby league but they aren’t on the radar of the Service Area, but you can see raw talent at most schools. With most of the players not involved at Service Area level and we can hopefully get them on Bolton academy. It will be good to see how it develops.

The camps are going to run over Easter and hopefully over the summer we will get to play a fixture. I can’t wait really!

For a bit of fun I’ve also arranged a Teacher Touch Rugby tournament. This is really for all the teachers that have helped me going into the schools. They’ve all been fantastic with me, but now I’m giving them an opportunity to test their rugby skills!

I’m going to run two taster sessions first, it doesn’t have to be the sports department from each school that takes part and we are just going to play touch rugby games against each others schools. Following that, I’ve had a chat with Leigh Chief Executive Allan Rowley and he’s said that we can have the curtain raiser to the Batley game at the Sports Village (1st May). For this game the club are planning to drop the admission for any Bolton High School children so if they want to come and watch their teachers and give them support or stick (within reason) they can and get their own back!

I said there was plenty happening didn’t I?

I’ll be back soon to tell you more,

John Duffy.

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