Youth league makes summer switch

The prestigious Gillette National Youth League is to become the first to switch its playing season following the debate into the seasonal structure.

Following a truncated season in 2010, which will run from September to November, the flagship under 18 competition will fully re-start in March 2011 and run through to its climax in November.

“It’s been a long and thorough process but after taking into account all the research and listening to our players and clubs we have decided to make the switch,” said Andy Harland, the RFL’s National Development Manager, who is the lead officer for the league.

“Ahead of starting the new structure in March next year we will be operating a shorter transition season that will conclude in late autumn. As the time schedule is tight, the 20 teams will be split into two sections where they will play eight weekly rounds and then all results will feed into one league table. From that, the top four sides will enter the plays offs and the final is scheduled for the weekend beginning Friday November 19.”

After deciding to make the move the clubs are looking forward to the new structure.

“The Gillette National Youth League has been a revelation for Hemel Stags and is helping us achieve our goal of producing quality youth players,” said club administrator Kevin Read.

“We are looking forward to the switch to summer when the competition will have an even greater profile in the Rugby League community,” he added.

Read’s thoughts were echoed by Keighley Cougar Cubs team manager Liam Gillard.

“As a club we are looking forward to the switch. We’re confident it will lead to a better standard of play and that the improved quality of pitches will play a part in that. It’s a big step forward for everyone but I’m confident that it will prove to be a successful decision in the long term.”

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