The Lakeland Renegades and the development of American based talent is set to receive a significant boost after the club announced it has formed a partnership with current Super League champions St.Helens.
Lakeland is based in Polk County, Florida, east of Tampa. As the name suggests, it is well known for it’s many lakes with the largest being Lake Parker which is located on the northeast side of the city.
The Renegades play in the country’s premier competition the USARL which was formed in 2011 and is currently made up of 11 teams, with the Renegades being the league’s most recent addition having been founded in 2019.
“We are excited to partner with the St Helens RLFC and the Saints Community Foundation.” the club stated
“The coach, educational staff and development coaches at St. Helens Rugby League club will be working alongside Mike Brogan, the coach of the Renegades, to best promote Rugby League to the USA market.”
Since the inception of the American Youth Rugby League Association in 2012, one of the USARL’s priorities has been to grow the game and nurture talent within the country. The AYRLA is prominent throughout schools in Rhode Island and Philadelphia, with junior competitions being played in those regions to this day which has led to developmental competitions such as the New England 9’s.
The Lakeland / St.Helens partnership will not only further the development of locally based talent, but will also give Rugby League in the United States more of a mainstream identity.
One of USARL’s big advocates is Nate Gladdin, who runs the the Rugby League in America Podcast which provides regular updates about the sport direct from the US.
“I think Lakeland having someone like Mike Brogan coaching them again this year while also adding the direct connection to St. Helens is great for the both sides.” Nate told Everything Rugby League
“For Lakeland, they get priceless educational opportunities that can accelerate them forward faster than a typical second year team. For St. Helens, they will see new athletes and from that learn the benefits of how Americans approach sport.
“They’re one of the few clubs involved in rugby league that have the ability to capitalise on this type of connection.”
It is fair to say the partnership between the Lakeland Renegades and St.Helens can only strengthen Rugby League in the United States and if we’re lucky, it may just unearth some future household names.