RFL and Super League confirm reserves return in 2020

The RFL and Super League have confirmed that a reserve league will be relaunched in 2020.

The 11 English Super League clubs have approved a proposal for all Super League clubs, and clubs with Category 1 funded academies outside Super League (Widnes Vikings and Bradford Bulls), will have a mandated reserve team.

Five further applications from clubs in the Championship and League 1 have been received, with decisions to be made by the end of July.

The launch of the reserve grade will be accompanied by a change in the regulations surrounding the academy, which will now become an Under-18s competition rather than Under-19s, as at present. The dual-registration and loan systems will remain unaffected.

RFL interim chief on-field officer, Dave Rotheram, said: “We have listened to the views of stakeholders  – clubs, coaches and players – before making this proposal.

“The majority view is that the game would benefit from the reintroduction of a reserve grade competition, primarily as a next step in the development of players between academy and senior rugby, but also to provide regular rugby for players on the fringe of selection, returning from injury, and a platform for later developers.

“It was important in making what is a significant change that we also took into account the impact on the other professional competitions – Championship and League 1 – and also the community game.”

Robert Elstone, Super League’s CEO, said: “Super League is about superstars – players that get us on the edge of our seats, players that make our jaws drop, players that inspire us.

“Our success will depend on our ability to find, nurture and create the superstars of tomorrow.

“It’s why development pathways like this are so critical to the future success of the game.

“It is essential that we offer appropriate challenges to our young players on their journeys into Super League. A well-managed, resourced and competitive reserve grade will provide that.”

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