Super League champions by 2030 is the headline target set by Newcastle Thunder on Friday afternoon, as the club unveiled an ambitious roadmap for the continued growth of the sport within the North East.
Taking place two years out from the opening weekend of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which will kick off with a spectacular opening ceremony, England’s opening game of the tournament and a further match at Kingston Park Stadium,
Hosted at Newcastle Eagles impressive Community Arena, club chairman Mick Hogan addressed an audience of over 100 members of the region’s business, political and rugby league community to outline the strategy that will guide all efforts over the next decade.
With the Dacia Magic Weekend returning to the city for two years from May 2020, and a total of five games in the men’s Rugby League World Cup taking place in the North East in 2021, the hosting of major events will form a talismanic cornerstone for the strategy.
Bringing world-class action with the biggest names and prizes in the game on show, Newcastle’s hosting of games of this magnitude will allow rugby league to engage with an audience renowned for its appreciation of sport and create a whole new generation of fans.
With rising gates at Kingston Park Stadium for Thunder home games, increased participation levels at grassroots clubs across the region and the Newcastle Rugby Foundation being named Championship and League 1 Foundation of the Year for a second time in three years, the continued development in these key areas will build on those high profile events.
Announced at the event was an increased investment and commitment to develop the community game, the Thunder Community Project will shortly see a brand new member of staff join the team and work in developing the game in Teesside and the south of the region, home to one of the great success stories of recent years, Yarm Wolves.
As well as this work, details of plans to establish women’s and wheelchair teams were also unveiled, with a showcase match of the latter taking place as part of the event.
Bringing these two strands together is Newcastle Thunder itself, with the focus on establishing the team as a vibrant club that provides an outlet for the North East’s rugby league family to come together.
After a hugely successful 2019 which saw the team make the end of season play-off final and finish the year with the most points scored across the campaign, the focus remains on gradual evolution and making positive steps in a sustainable and responsible way.
With Simon Finnigan confirmed as head coach for 2020 key signings and retentions for the upcoming season will see the solid foundations of the last year built upon and maintain the upward trajectory that will enable Thunder to be crowned Super League champions by 2030.
Following the event, Hogan said: “It is an exciting time for rugby league in the North East and with growing participation numbers, a new club in Newcastle Magpies and our wheelchair rugby league team.
“With the sport continuing to grow in the region, we have developed taken the opportunity to give the Thunder and the legacy work around the 2021 World Cup a clear purpose and we will be providing more details on that in the near future.“