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UCLan teams up with amateur rugby league club Leigh Miners Rangers

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UCLan has established a partnership with amateur rugby league club Leigh Miners Rangers (LMR)

Partnership is first for community rugby league

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has established a partnership with amateur rugby league club Leigh Miners Rangers (LMR) in what is a ground-breaking first for a community rugby league club.

The partnership, which will see players, coaches and volunteers from under-7s through to open age benefit from access to the skills, resources and expertise of the University faculties, was masterminded by new Leigh Miners' head coach Jason Seddon and following preliminary meetings between club officials and university staff, the stage is set for an exciting and innovative future relationship.

Opportunities on offer for the club include specialist support in coach education and player development, matchday analysis and operations, supporting volunteers, maximising the use of social media and publicity to attract new audiences and helping the club to address broader community needs including around wider health and wellbeing needs. UCLan already work on a similar basis with Sale Sharks RUFC and is the ‘official university’ of current Super League Champions Wigan Warriors.  The partnership with Leigh will also provide the University’s students with hands-on practical involvement in the day to day development of community sport.

With 250+ young people and their families, we think that a link with UCLan can further develop our players in a more holistic way by adopting new methods of thinking about the whole person on and off the field.

Trevor Barton MBE, LMR Academy president, commented: “Leigh Rangers started in 1978 with one pitch and three teams. It now has arguably some of the finest junior facilities in any sport and with twelve teams supplies a stream of talented, well-adjusted young people to both the professional ranks and the LMR senior section.

“With 250+ young people and their families, we think that a link with UCLan can further develop our players in a more holistic way by adopting new methods of thinking about the whole person on and off the field through diet, a better understanding of the psychology and physiognomy of our players and perhaps a variation on how to make training more enjoyable and more effective. Some players may eventually wish to join this top class University which has a tremendous sports faculty and maximise their talents. This is a wonderful opportunity for our club.”

UCLan’s Chair of Sport and Partnership Lead for the School of Sport and Wellbeing Dave Grecic said: “This is an exciting partnership for UCLan to be involved with.  It opens up fantastic opportunities for real life work experience for our students and allows our staff to share best practice with coaches, players, parents and volunteers.

“LMR is a very progressive club with excellent values and an inspirational vision for their future.  We hope to support them in making this a reality by offering our own expertise in talent development, elite coaching practice, performance support, and leadership and management.  We believe that this is the start of an amazing project helping the club make a real difference to their community and young people’s lives.”

This is an exciting partnership for UCLan to be involved with. It opens up fantastic opportunities for real life work experience for our students and allows our staff to share best practice with coaches, players, parents and volunteers.

Director of Rugby at LMR Paul Whitworth commented: “This exciting partnership will introduce benefits on a holistic level from tots just starting at junior level through to the elite amateur players.  There is a wealth of initiatives, resources and facilities that will be at our disposal that UCLan’s other two official partners, Wigan Warriors and Sale Sharks, have access to. As a club we have always pushed the boundaries and this is a unique and ground breaking partnership for a community club that has taken a lot of work from all involved, my job now is to make sure it is smoothly implemented and the benefits realised.”

Head Coach Jason Seddon outlined the benefits of the partnership with UCLan from a performance perspective.  He said: "This is a major step forward and allows us to further build on the structures already in place for the long term development of our players, coaches and ultimately the club as a whole. This unique initiative will provide a platform from which our players and coaches can gain access to a wealth of expertise and resources that are at the forefront of elite sporting performance and development. The importance of the environment we create for the players both on and off the field cannot be underestimated, of particular note is the performance support team and network we now have in place for 2017 that will allow us to consistently deliver at the highest level in terms of player development and welfare, testament to the value of building a collaborative relationship with a leading sporting academic institution such as the University of Central Lancashire.”

Lyndsey Boardman | 02 December 2016