Reserve grade structure confirmed for 2022

The RFL have confirmed the structure for the return of reserve-grade Rugby League in the 2022 season.

Reserves will be back next season having been suspended due to Covid-19 in 2020 and then not run last term.

A 13-team competition will run in 2022, featuring the twelve clubs who run licensed academies, plus Salford Red Devils.

The twelve academies will also field teams in an Under-18s competition next year, which will begin on 12 March.

The RFL say that fixtures across the two competitions will be set up so that each club will only be involved in one of the two every weekend.

A full fixture schedule is yet to be released but the first round of games in each competition has been teased.

The opening round of the 14-round reserves competition will be headlined by a Hull derby between FC and KR.

Bradford Bulls visit St Helens, Newcastle Thunder travel to Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos play Warrington Wolves, Huddersfield Giants entertain Salford Red Devils and Wakefield Trinity play Castleford Tigers in the other fixtures.

The reserves Grand Final will take place on 17 September, followed by the academy Grand Final on the weekend of 24 September.

Dave Rotheram, the RFL’s Chief On-Field Officer, said: “I am delighted to be able to announce the fixtures and competition structures, and thank all the participating clubs for their support in getting us to this position.

“The return of Reserve grade Rugby League, alongside an Academy Under 18s competition provides a full pathway for our developing players as they transition towards senior football.

“Running the competitions on alternate weekends will provide appropriate playing opportunities for all players within the Academy and Reserves structure.

“And with both competitions culminating in play-off series, we are creating high-pressure matches at the business end of the season which will further aid players’ development through knock-out football and stimulate supporter interest.”