A new independent report has recommended that Workington Town and Whitehaven begin to work more closely together, in order to better develop rugby league in West Cumbria.
The report was commissioned and supported by the RFL, Whitehaven and Workington Town, and was led by consultant Alan Rapley.
Rapley was the 1996 GB Olympic swimming team captain and has also been a swimming coach to numerous Olympic swimmers. He has previously worked with the England Rugby League team and is now Head of Coaching at Fulham Football Club.
Information and opinions were gathered from what is described as “a comprehensive range of stakeholders” by the RFL. These included administrators, management, partners and sponsors who were involved in an extensive consultation process in 2014.
The report highlights key areas of focus for both Whitehaven and Workington Town, including improving facilities and stadiums, addressing the issue of declining attendances and building on the appetite for the sport in West Cumbria.
This appetite for the sport was shown at the Rugby League World Cup in 2013, when more than 14,000 people attended matches at Derwent Park, Workington.
The two clubs will continue to work independently in the short-term, but do acknowledge the need to work more collaboratively for the sake of the sport in the region.
Strengthening the links between the professional and community games in the region is a key priority, which will be helped by the recent award of Sky Try funding.
RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer said: “I would like to congratulate Whitehaven and Workington Town on their foresight in commissioning this independent review, which stemmed from a meeting between myself, my colleague Jon Dutton and the two clubs in the aftermath of RLWC2013.
“The recommendations within the Rapley Report provide both clubs with exciting opportunities to grow both their own businesses and the sport at community level across the region.
“In essence, the report highlights that greater opportunities to advance the sport in West Cumbria are available if the two professional clubs work together strategically in different areas of their operation.
“Such strategic approaches are becoming more common both across sport and industry, as clubs and companies strive to maximise their potential for growth in an ever more competitive world.”
To view the Rapley Report please click HERE.