Leeds Rhinos Foundation Sky Try rugby league taster sessions set new record

A scheme to get more youngsters playing rugby league for community clubs in Leeds has broken records.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 4:45 pm
Youngsters take part in a Sky Try session at the North Leeds Leopards club. Picture by Leeds Rhinos Foundation.

Since schools came out of lockdown restrictions in March, more than 2,200 children in years one to four have taken part in Sky Try sessions run by Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s rugby league development team.

In addition, the charity has hosted free rugby league taster sessions with 15 of its ambassador clubs for their under-seven, eights and nines teams, as well as a further 10 specific girls’ sessions.

The aim of those was to give all aspiring players the chance to experience playing outside their school and become part of a team at their local club.

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The sessions at community clubs have seen 575 junior players receive tuition from the foundation’s coaches, including Rhinos academy products Harvey Whiteley - who played in Super League last year and recently signed for Hunslet - and Joe Sanderson, alongside former Featherstone Rovers star Ian Hardman.

The foundation say 255 new players have joined a local club following a taster session and there have been 53 new additions to girls’ teams.

Rhinos Foundation’s community clubs development officer Sam Horner reckons the coaching provided is vital to the long-term health of the sport in Leeds, particularly after a year-long shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Sky Try delivery we do -and in particular the taster sessions - is so important because they help us to grow and support our ambassador clubs throughout the year,” he said.

“It’s like a pyramid, the game is wider at the bottom than at the top and in order to make sure we unlock the next Kevin Sinfield or Jamie Jones-Buchanan we need to be out there coaching and pushing them up through the age groups.”

Horner added: “The most important age groups most of the time are the youngest age groups because they are your bloodline in any club and where you can really get kids interested in playing the sport for life.

“Having Sky Try sessions with the under-sevens, eights and nines teams is massively important to clubs for their sustained growth.”

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