RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood has expressed his admiration for the Rugby League development work taking place in Cumbria after witnessing it at firsthand this week.
Traditionally Cumbria has been classed as part of the North West region but it is now designated by the RFL as a separate region with its own regional manager and dedicated development team. These strategic decisions were made in response to feedback from people involved in Rugby League in Cumbria.
It is an exciting time for Rugby League in the area with the regional CARLA competition kicking off its first summer-based campaign in March and a number of the leading community clubs in the area also involved in the Conference League’s inaugural summer campaign.
Nigel Wood said: “Cumbria has always been one of the strongest areas for Rugby League’s grassroots and has a rich tradition of producing and developing quality Rugby League players.
“We are spending a lot of time listening to key stakeholders and as a result we’ve made some great progress in the region recently. This feedback has enabled us to understand the big issues and challenges that people are facing which then helps us to improve our service as a national sports governing body.
“The new season kicks off in March and after spending time meeting the regional team and visiting the fantastic facilities at Wath Brow I’m certain that there’s a bright future for the sport at all levels in Cumbria.”
One of the recent success stories has been Penrith Pumas who are a community club based in Eden which is around 40 miles away from the traditional stronghold of West Cumbria and who last year achieved Clubmark Gold status.
Over half of the grassroots Rugby League clubs in the area have now achieved the prestigious Clubmark or Clubmark Gold standard.
The Pumas, who have previously only fielded an open age team, have been working hard in conjunction with the RFL to run a comprehensive schools delivery programme which has involved eight schools and 219 pupils and the exit route to join the clubs junior sections.
The Carnegie Champion Schools competition is currently flourishing in Cumbria with over 50 boys’ teams and 30 girls’ teams involved this season.
This success is helped by excellent links with the region’s professional clubs with Barrow, Whitehaven and Workington all hosting matches in the next month as well as supporting tournaments with pre-event coaching and logistics.
Cumbria Regional Manager Alan Davidson said: “It’s a great opportunity for Cumbria to now become a region in its own right.
“The team are looking forward to ensuring Cumbria continues to be a strong and vibrant Rugby League area and that all facets of the game can work together to guarantee that the sport in Cumbria has a bright future.”