Hemel Stags to integrate with Dewsbury

Hemel Stags have confirmed that they are linking with with Championship side Dewsbury Rams, in a bid to improve their club’s performance on the field.

The Stags will move their training base to the Rams’ Tetley’s Stadium ground. Both sets of players will train together for three evenings a week.

The coaching and playing staffs of the two clubs will be integrated, although the Stags will retain their independent identity and play their home games from Pennine Way in Hemel.

Dewsbury Rams chairman Mark Sawyer believes that the initiative will allow both clubs to reap considerable benefits.

“This is a truly exciting development for Dewsbury Rams and for Hemel Stags, and one which I am confident will reap dividends for both clubs,” he said.

“The development of extra training and sporting facilities at the Tetley’s Stadium has paved the way for us to strike an innovative partnership with a fellow rugby league club, and help equip them with the tools to continue their development in an increasingly tough competition.

“The combination of coaching and playing resources will serve the aspirations of both clubs, and in particular help to underpin the Stags’ efforts to introduce new athletes to our sport at semi-professional level.”

Hemel Stags CEO Bob Brown feels that changes to the league structure over recent seasons have provided the Stags with additional challenges that they have struggled to meet.

“After winning the Rugby League Conference National Grand Final in 2012 we joined League 1, which was very much a development league, and appropriate for our aspirations,” he said.

“Making the play-offs in 2013 and 2014 confirmed that was it was the right decision.

“In 2015 League 1 became a performance league, with the addition of five former Championship clubs.

“In 2016 Toulouse joined the league making it even tougher, while the addition of Toronto in 2017 will present further challenges.

“This season we launched a deliberate strategy to recruit community and student players from within our local catchment area of the southern M1/A1 axis.

“But despite having between 35 and 45 players regularly in pre-season training it soon became clear that the step up from Community Rugby League in the South to League 1 was premature for many of the players.

“The move to Dewsbury will give the Stags access to a much more professional environment, in which to develop their playing and coaching personnel, while placing the club close to a large pool of experienced rugby league players.”

The Stags are set to continue their community development programme in Hemel Hempstead, led by community manager Mike Stewart.

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