London Broncos insist player production commitment despite pulling plug on Academy

LONDON BRONCOS insist they remain committed to producing their own players despite scrapping their existing, and much-praised, Scholarship and Academy set-up in order to invest in areas that will improve their IMG ‘B’ grading.

The move comes after the capital club won promotion to Super League with a squad that included a string of players who came through a development system that has produced England internationals Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Mike McMeeken and Kai Pearce-Paul, who has just left Super League champions Wigan for the NRL’s Newcastle Knights.

And since the Broncos’ Championship play-off heroics, winger Gideon Boafo, halfback James Meadows and prop Sadiq Adebiyi have all been re-signed after starting their careers at the Broncos before leaving for other clubs.

The club says the fact that running an Academy does not count towards IMG grading points, which hold the key to playing in the top-flight after next season, has had a major bearing on their decision to dispense with a team that has been costing them around £250,000 annually.

The Broncos will retain their Reserve team, but said in a statement: “From next season, the club has made the decision not to run its ‘Elite Academy’.

“However, we will continue to run a pathway up to Under-18 using the ‘RFL Lions Development Programme’.

“Further details will be released once dates are finalised for 2024, and in the meantime, we will continue to run a programme in local schools.

“With the new IMG grading criteria, clubs are not directly rewarded for running an ‘Elite Academy’, so we will focus on other areas to improve the club with the long-term aim of becoming Category A.

“As a club, we still believe in and support the growth of Rugby League in London and will continue to help develop players, but in a different way.

“We will continue to run a team in the Reserve competition. We believe that is vital as Rugby League is a late-developing sport, so players need opportunities at an older age.”

The Broncos have recently agreed contract extensions with fullback Alex Walker and hooker Sam Davis – both of whom are in their second spell at the club after coming through the Academy.