Widnes Vikings have revealed that they have reached an agreement with the RFL to manage the Cumbria Regional Academy.
The Academy, centred primarily on the rugby league heartlands of west Cumbria, helps to provide a career pathway for talent from the region.
Now, the link with the Vikings will allow young players to benefit from access to Super League knowledge and culture.
The club have confirmed that they will be working closely with the Championship and League 1 clubs in the region.
“We are looking forward to working with the RFL and the Cumbria Regional Academy on a series of initiatives that will
benefit the whole sport,” said Widnes head of youth Phil Finney.
“We think that we can make good use of our experience and expertise alongside the vast local knowledge within the staff and volunteers already in place in the region to provide a pathway to England, Super League and the Championships for an increasing number of Cumbrian players.
“A crucial element will be the development of strong working relationships with all of the key stakeholders in the region, including the professional and community clubs and the local schools.
“We want to forge strong working partnerships with Cumbrian community clubs and their staff and volunteers to provide further opportunity for the players and coaches across the county.”
Widnes Vikings chief executive James Rule hopes that the Vikings can take their proven academy track record and use it to help Cumbria.
“We are very proud of the fact that this year we received the highest possible grading in the independent Academy Audit,” he said.
“We have developed an outstanding academy environment and working alongside the RFL we want to utilise that best practice to great effect to develop a genuine partnership with the Regional Academy and with the wider Cumbrian region.”
RFL director of performance and coaching Jon Roberts wants the Cumbrian Academy to continue with its fine recent progress.
“The Cumbria Regional Academy has made huge strides in the last two years and this four-year partnership with Widnes Vikings provides a terrific opportunity to make even more significant progress,” he said.
“Cumbria is an important region for the sport and it is essential that we do all we can to create an environment that allows every player to realise his potential. The involvement of Widnes Vikings will help us achieve that objective.
”The partnership helps create a clear pathway to the England team for every young player in Cumbria: whilst not all of them will make it that far, a great many will develop into players for Barrow, Whitehaven, Workington Town, the Super League clubs, including Widnes, and community clubs across the county.”