No fewer than six players from London Broncos’ Scholarship setup were included in the 21-man Academy squad at the weekend as Leeds Rhinos visited Richmond Athletic Association.
Five of those six players were making their Academy debuts.
Brentwood Eels’ Rhys Cotter, Tommy Porter and Sam Winney all featured plus Elmbridge Eagles’ Tommy Svanidze, Eastern Rhinos’ Euan Parke and George Dadd of the Invicta Panthers.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, games for this year’s Super League U19s Academy Championship – the highest Academy Rugby League competition in the UK – will be registered as friendlies.
A well-coached and experienced Rhinos team came out on top in the Broncos’ Academy team’s’ first match, winning 54-0.
Rob Powell, Head of Youth at London Broncos, said: “It was a tough result, of course. But at this stage of young players’ careers, having the opportunity to play against top teams like Leeds Rhinos is important for their development.
“We fielded a young team, and to have six of our Scholarship players feature was great. Rhinos are a very good team; they have one of the best academy setups in the country.
“We know we’re going to have some tough results during the season, but we’re purely focused on development and player opportunity through the season.”
The Broncos’ Academy players are back in action this weekend away to St Helen’s.
Powell expects another tough encounter for his players. But importantly, the fixture will take place at the Totally Wicked Stadium, an 18,000-seater state-of-the-art stadium home of St Helen’s’ first-team.
“This is what young players dream of,” said Rob. “Stepping out on that pitch at the weekend will be a very special moment for our Academy players and one they will remember potentially for the rest of their lives.
“Like Leeds, St Helen’s boast a very strong Academy setup and we’re expecting a tough match. But it will provide another opportunity for players to put their combinations and work on the training ground into practice in an environment dedicated to development.”
London Broncos Scholarship are also in action at the weekend. They welcome Castleford Tigers to Richmond Athletic Association on Sunday afternoon for their first playing opportunity of the season.
This year, the Broncos’ Scholarship team will be made up of players registered as U15s to U17s to accommodate for older players who missed a season due to the pandemic.