Salford Red Devils have formed a partnership with the Rochdale-based Hopwood Hall College.
The Red Devils have used Hopwood Hall College’s facilities over the past year and have now agreed an official partnership between the two parties to help bring through the next generation of Betfred Super League players.
“This is a massive step in the right direction for the club in our aim to produce players as a community club,” said Red Devils coach Ian Watson.
“It’s time we began to get more local young players coming through our system with the future aim of the club to have a complete pathway from school, community club and Academies through to the first team at Salford Red Devils.
“This is putting us on the right path to begin this process. The fact that we can introduce young players from Hopwood Hall College and Salford Red Devils Category Three Academy into first-team environments to aid and assist their development is brilliant. These lads are getting rewarded by spending time in and around an environment which allows them to experience life as a professional Betfred Super League player.
“The partnership has been greatly assisted via Matt Calland who I have had a relationship with at Halifax, Rochdale and Wales. They have first-class facilities at Hopwood Hall and with Matt at the helm we know that these lads are being coached to a high standard.
Salford Director of Rugby and Operations, Ian Blease, said: “This is a very exciting and very promising partnership, that has been worked upon for a while now.
“This is one of our key components in our five-year rugby strategy to help us nurture and create the next generation of Salford Red Devils players from the surrounding regions.
“We already have a Category Three Academy at Salford Red Devils which we value, and which will also help us bring through some strong Salford talent along with this new partnership with Hopwood Hall College and our overall rugby strategy long-term.
“Salford Red Devils and Hopwood Hall College are aiming to create a career pathway for rugby talent. Hopwood Hall College captures some of the hottest talent in the Rochdale and Oldham areas and we have now put the club in a position to access that talent.
“We are also in the process of developing further partnerships for other regions in Manchester and this will only enhance our youth development and rugby strategy. I will continue to push to make this club stronger in its youth development, scouting, and ultimately, recruitment of local players back into the first team.
“Promoting local talent has to be a huge focus of the club going forward and it’s something myself and Head Coach Ian Watson are extremely committed to.”
Kris Robinson, Centre Director for Sport and Public Services at Hopwood Hall College, said of the new partnership:
“Having a working partnership with a Super League club the size of Salford Red Devils is a tantalising prospect for Hopwood Hall College.
“Our learners will regularly get the once in a lifetime opportunity to train alongside and learn from Salford’s high-quality players and coaching staff, the club will have an ideal pipeline for the rugby talent ID of young sportsmen from our college. It’s the equivalent of our catering learners getting to work at the best restaurants or our business learners gaining work experience at blue-chip companies.
“It’s also a great opportunity for the college to showcase its training and playing facilities, being good enough for a Super League club as established as Salford Red Devils is a sign of the quality offer we have for our learners.
“Our relationship with the club has been excellent, from the Director of Rugby right the way down, we’re really looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”