30 young women join RFL talent pathway

Another 30 young women have taken their first steps on the RFL’s talent pathway for 16 to 18 olds hoping to perform at the highest level in the women’s game. 

They’ve just joined the RFL’s government-funded Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE) programme, aimed at talented young players identified through regional Rugby League hubs across the north of England and the south-east. 

Alongside their regular studies in sixth form or other further education settings, the young women will work towards achieving the Diploma in Sporting Excellence – a BTEC Level 3 qualification recognised by universities admissions service UCAS. 

Supported by the RFL and Loughborough College the students will learn all about what it takes to compete at the elite level in sport, including technical and tactical elements of the games, and all aspects of physical and mental preparation such as nutrition and psychology.

RFL National Women and Girls Talent Manager, Stuart Barrow, says:

“It’s really exciting to welcome another 30 young women, brimming with ambition and potential, on to the programme. We now have 60 students, some of the best under 18s from around the country, all wanting to develop themselves within our game. 

“Alongside our partners at Loughborough College and the Women’s Super League clubs, we are offering them an established talent pathway. Those who go on to university will also be well positioned to access scholarship schemes for talented athletes when they get there.” 

Two current England Women’s RL squad members – Leeds Rhinos’ Keara Bennett and Megan Bragg from Wigan Warriors – were among the first 30 players to enrol on the DiSE programme. Keara was a member of the Rhinos’ Grand Final and Challenge Cup-winning teams in 2019 – her first year at the club. She says:

“I’m studying the sporting excellence diploma alongside my A Levels at Pontefract New College and this time next year I’m hoping to be at university on my way to becoming a PE teacher. 

“I didn’t know anything about the diploma until I was invited for a trial through my community club, Featherstone Lions. I was curious so I went along and haven’t looked back. 

“The diploma is giving me a much better understanding of the requirements of being a rugby player through being around experienced players and coaches, and learning about things like nutrition, psychology and injury prevention. I just want to be the best I can be.” 

The Diploma in Sporting Excellence is a two-year study programme.