Super League dream comes true for UCLan sports scholarship students
Two UCLan students make Salford Red Devils debut
Two University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) students have made their first team debut for rugby Super League Club Salford Red Devils.
First year students Jacob Lee and Joe Coope-Franklin, who are both on sports scholarships at UCLan, play for the Red Devil’s Reserves and stepped up to the First Team for a testimonial game against Warrington Wolves.
Sport and exercise science student Jacob, who plays prop or back row, scored a try in the game. The 19-year-old from Caerphilly in South Wales said: “Making my First Team debut was such an incredible experience. It is something I will never forget, and I hope I am able to make many more in the future.
“I take great pride in playing for the Reserves as it provides a pathway to playing Super League and gives me an opportunity to do it with such a great club.”
"Making my First Team debut was such an incredible experience. It is something I will never forget, and I hope I am able to make many more in the future."— UCLan sport and exercise science student Jacob Lee on making his debut for the Salford Red Devils First Team
Joe, 20, from Oakdale in South Wales, is studying for a degree in sports coaching and performance. He said: “Making my debut for the First Team was brilliant and playing in front of a crowd in a professional rugby league stadium felt amazing.
“My parents travelled from Wales to watch and some of my UCLan teammates came along to support me which made it even more special.
“I had only played rugby league for a year with the Welsh Rugby League National Development Academy before being selected for Salford Reserves. I felt like this was a really good achievement and am delighted to be given the opportunity to improve my rugby skills with very experienced coaches.”
"My parents travelled from Wales to watch and some of my UCLan teammates came along to support me which made it even more special."— UCLan sports coaching and performance student Joe Coope-Franklin on making his debut for the Salford Red Devils First Team
Both Jacob and Joe also play for the UCLan Men’s Rugby League Team, along with fellow sports student Ieuan Roberts who is also on a scholarship and plays for Salford Reserves but is currently taking time out to recover from injury. The students juggle studying with their sporting commitments and benefit from additional support through the UCLan sports scholarship scheme.
As gold level scholars, the student athletes receive up to £5,000 every academic year plus a package worth around £2,000 that includes free sports facility membership, physiotherapy, strength and conditioning and lifestyle, nutrition and psychological support.
“There are endless number of benefits to being a scholarship student,” said Jacob. “Having access to the gym for free has played a big part in me getting fitter for the upcoming season with Salford, as well as having free nutrition sessions and sports massages to enable me to get the best recovery I can.”
"There are endless number of benefits to being a scholarship student."— UCLan sport and exercise science student Jacob Lee
Both students have represented their native Wales in the sport after studying and playing rugby league at the Welsh Rugby League National Development Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd.
They were spotted by the Red Devils during national training camps and their performances within the Wales international pathway programme. UCLan Rugby League Head Performance Coach Amanda Wilkinson helped to secure their University scholarships and carve an educational pathway alongside their rugby careers.
"Through the scholarship programme we place great emphasis on providing a nurturing environment to look after our athletes’ welfare, as well as providing quality practical training."— UCLan Rugby League Head Performance Coach Amanda Wilkinson
Amanda said: “Through the scholarship programme we place great emphasis on providing a nurturing environment to look after our athletes’ welfare, as well as providing quality practical training.
“Joe and Jacob are a pleasure to coach and are developing well as Salford and UCLan players. To make a step up to the First Team is a fantastic achievement and I look forward to seeing them progress. We’re building a strong UCLan Men’s Rugby League squad through the links that we have with professional clubs and it’s exciting to be working with this standard of players.”
UCLan is an accredited by the Sport-England backed Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) programme, which supports talents young athletes to gain academic qualifications alongside their sporting pursuits. More information about UCLan’s sports scholarship scheme is available online.