In a unique set-up, the All Golds will be based at and run by the University of Gloucestershire and will also benefit from close links with Super League and World Club champions Leeds Rhinos, who have been active in developing the sport in the South West in recent years.
RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer said: “We are delighted to announce that University of Gloucestershire All Golds will join Northampton and Hemel Stags in taking their place in Championship 1 in 2013.
“The All Golds are another exciting addition who will enhance the competition and the sport in many ways.
“Once again we are breaking new territory for Rugby League in terms of geographical expansion which will ultimately grow the player pool by giving increasing numbers of players from across the country the opportunity to play the sport at semi-professional level.
“They have a remarkable combination of history combined with some exciting plans for the future and with their set-up at the University they will be unique amongst their peers.”
The University All Golds are currently rated as one of the top eight student sides in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Super 8 League and finished third last season. In April, this year, they launched their junior academy, attracting over 100 players to their first trials and now run U14, U16 and U18 squads.
Since January 2011 they have implemented a number of community strategies and are currently delivering Rugby League in eight primary schools, 14 secondary schools and have seen an increase in Rugby League participation numbers by 550 new players since the beginning of the year.
Director of Sport at the University of Gloucestershire, Andy Pitchford, said: “The announcement builds on many years of hard work, led by both enterprising students and supportive members of the local community.
“The team now play at the very highest level of student sport, with 12 student internationals, two full internationals and three students who have made their professional debuts this season. The professional club is the natural next step for those both on and off the pitch.
“We are particularly grateful to Lionel Hurst, the Chairman of our Student/BUCS club, for his leadership and for his encouragement to push for this ambitious project. We are grateful to all of the partners who have helped us to bring this to reality, including the RFL and the Leeds Rhinos.”
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington said: “It’s an exciting opportunity for the game’s development at this level and we at Leeds Rhinos are keen to lend our support as part of our continued assistance to the growth of Rugby League in the South West region.”
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