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Home > News > University of Leeds strengthen RFU ties
Your News University of Leeds strengthen RFU ties

THE University of Leeds already thriving rugby union programme has received a major boost with the launch of a new partnership with the Rugby Football Unions Central Yorkshire Development Team.

The Universitys Weetwood Sports Facility has become the new headquarters of the RFU Central Yorkshire operation, with the relocation of Rugby Development Officer Alex Bowden from Leeds Metropolitan University.

Links with Leeds Metropolitan, who have continued to support the RFU during the search for new premises, will be maintained through the Higher Education rugby development planning programme, volunteer programmes, coaching courses and degree courses, but Weetwood will be the new day-to-day RFU base.

The move strengthens existing links between the University and the RFU which have seen the Rugby Union programme at Weetwood expand dramatically in the last five years thanks in part to support from Twickenham.

This is a really exciting opportunity for us, said Rob Wadsworth, University of Leeds Head of Sport: Weve been really pleased with the support the RFU have been able to give us over the years.

In 2005 we had one or two mens teams, no womens programme, no intra-mural rugby and our facilities comprised of a boggy training pitch and a mobile floodlight that we had to move around Weetwood to train under. But thanks to the advice and guidance from the RFU weve grown to five mens teams, a 16-team intra-mural competition and 100 students turning up to our womens trials, which should enable us to start a second womens team this season.

Rugby has really exploded over the last five or six years and its without doubt due to the support of the RFU. This step of moving the RFU team into our facilities will help to create even more opportunities to progress the game.

Now were looking to Patrick Craig and our own Sports Development Team to grasp this opportunity to really stride forward and make a difference to the community, our staff and the students.

Matt Carter, RFU Rugby Development Manager for the North East & Yorkshire, acknowledged that the partnership will be a double-edged sword. He said: Im grateful to University of Leeds for giving us this opportunity and to Patrick (Craig), who has been involved in rugby and supporting us for many years.

Moving here is a massive opportunity for us and Im sure Alex and his team are revelling in the benefits they will enjoy over the coming years. Were really happy to be involved with such a prestigious organisation as the University of Leeds.

Part of the agreement with the University will embrace the continued support via their rugby development plan which includes support for the six British Universities & Colleges Sport mens and womens Rugby Union teams, running womens skill sessions for new and returning players and backing the excellent 15-a-side intra mural programme.

The RFU will also assist the development of a University Referees society, while the University will assist the RFU with their development programme and the creation of a touch rugby programme.

The two organisations already have an important interlocutor in the shape of Patrick Craig, the University Sports Development Manager, who represents Yorkshire Universities on the Students RFU.

He said: Were building on an already strong relationship which enhances our credibility as an institution and our rugby programme. We already work closely with the RFU team in supporting our recreational rugby programmes, our coach education programmes and a huge women and girls rugby operation.

Having the RFU on site will make it much easier to do things face-to-face and to build on those existing relationships which have involved England, the North and Yorkshire age-group representative sides training here and using our excellent facilities.

We owe a vote of thanks to our friends at Leeds Metropolitan, who were very helpful when our internal structures changed, said RDO Bowden. Now were looking forward to working Patrick and his colleagues at Weetwood.

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