March return for academy action

Academy players have been given the go-ahead to begin pre-season training with their respective clubs from March 8.

The Super League and Championship clubs with academies will train for the first time in almost a year when they commence pre-season training next month following the government’s announcement of a gradual easing of lockdown restrictions.

However, continuing public health concerns mean that there will be no formal academy competition in 2021, with a playing format set to be discussed in more detail next week.

Sholarship players at Under 16 and Under 17 levels are also clear to return to training from March 8.

RFL chief on-field officier, Dave Rotheram, said: “This is another big step in the right direction for rugby league’s talent pathway. It’s been a long time coming and everybody connected with the academy game – players, clubs, coaches – is keen to get down to business and make up for lost time.

“It won’t be plain sailing and we have to tread carefully, especially in respect of player welfare. Covid continues to present considerable logistical challenges and young players will need time to adjust to a return to collision sport.

“We feel that a competitive league structure and full fixture list isn’t appropriate this year, so will instead work towards a formula that affords as many playing opportunities as possible for players who have missed so much in the last 12 months.”

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