Oxford Rugby League’s dual registration partnerships with Castleford Tigers and London Broncos will continue in 2017, following a positive review of last season’s objectives.
CEO Adrian Smith commented: “It’s pleasing as a development club to be linked with a club like Castleford; a club which has turned its fortunes around and is recognized as one of the most exciting teams in Super League.
“We proved that the Oxford environment is a safe, caring one – a club where young players develop their talent. We’ve appraised the links [with Castleford and London], and they have shown constructive results, which the Tigers recognise. It’s a great confidence boost for us, and I have to give credit to Oxford’s coaches, staff and medical team as these guys help produce the environment.”
Tigers duo, Tom Holmes and Will Maher, both gained valuable game experience with Oxford throughout 2016 – something which proved very beneficial when the call came to step up into the Tigers first team. Both boys will continue their development at Championship level in 2017, signing season long loans with Batley Bulldogs. All at Oxford wish the boys the very best for 2017.
Kieran Gill’s time with the Blues was also successful – signing a season long loan with Oldham Roughyeds, which has been extended for the coming season.
Speaking on the announcement Tigers CEO Steve Gill said: “We initially set up the partnership for the 2016 season and we are delighted to continue to work with Oxford as we move into the 2017 season. Oxford provides a great environment for our young players to grow and we are already seeing the talent on show outside the heartland areas of Rugby League, most recently with our signing of Oxford RL player Daniel Igbinedion. The guys down at Oxford are doing a great job and this is a partnership that works well for both parties.”
Smith added: “There is a good dialogue between coaches to review player performances, and I hope 2017 will see the clubs work even more closely. Steve Gill genuinely wants to help us develop and grow, and I believe the partnership will prove fruitful again for both clubs. It will enhance various areas on and off the field for Oxford.
“I have seen the strength and conditioning programme which Rick Aben is introducing, and not only is it hugely beneficial to our Blues players, but Brookes University students are also able to gain work experience within professional programmes. It is simply fantastic, and invaluable – a superb example of clubs working together both on and off the field.
“I’d like to thank Steve and the Castleford board for their support and encouragement of our young club.”
Forging relationships just down the M40 has also been a focus with London Broncos and Danny Ward, the Broncos assistant coach.
“I invited Tim Rumford to attend one of our academy player meetings a while ago, to be able put a face to Oxford RL,” said Ward.
“I have great respect for Tim and Chris Baxter at Oxford, and the feedback we got from our players who spent time on dual registration last season was all good.
“Just like the Cas lads, our boys forced their way into our selection thoughts in the playoffs, and it was clear their game time – the experience they got at Oxford – was beneficial.
“I have confidence in the Blues coaching environment and can see the improvements being made. It is very pleasing to see ex-Broncos juniors given an opportunity to continue their development, and I can see and appreciate what you’re trying to build at Oxford.”
Smith concluded: “Our gratitude also goes to Danny and Jason Loubser, CEO at the Broncos, for their continued support.
“Naturally, we hope to build on the positives of Sid Adebiyi, Lewis Bienek and Callum Bustin, who were great to have in our group – they are a credit to their families and to the Broncos system.”