Reserve grade Rugby League will return on 19 February 2022, following its Covid-enforced suspension in 2020.
A 13-team competition will consist of the 12 clubs now running licenced academies, plus Salford Red Devils. The same 12 clubs will also field teams in an Under 18s Academy competition, commencing on 12 March. Fixtures across both competitions will be staggered so that each club is only ever involved in one sub-first team level game on any given weekend.
Round 1 of the 14-round Reserves competition will see Bradford Bulls visit St Helens; Newcastle Thunder travel to Leeds Rhinos; and London Broncos play Warrington Wolves. The remaining fixtures all involve Betfred Super League clubs, with an east Yorkshire derby between Hull KR and Hull FC providing the stand-out tie of the round. Huddersfield Giants entertain Salford Red Devils and Wakefield Trinity play Castleford Tigers in the other two Round 1 fixtures.
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Round 1 of the 13-round Academy competition again sees all three Betfred Championship clubs drawn away from home. Like their reserves side, Newcastle Thunder’s Under 18s will also visit Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos travel to Hull FC and Bradford Bulls will be in action at Hull KR. In the all-Super League club fixtures, St Helens play Huddersfield Giants, Wigan Warriors entertain Castleford Tigers and Warrington Wolves visit Wakefield Trinity.
Dave Rotheram, the RFL’s Chief On-Field Officer, says: “I am delighted to be able to announce the fixtures and competition structures, and thank all the participating clubs for their support in getting us to this position.
“The return of Reserve grade Rugby League, alongside an Academy Under 18s competition provides a full pathway for our developing players as they transition towards senior football.
“Running the competitions on alternate weekends will provide appropriate playing opportunities for all players within the Academy and Reserves structure.
“And with both competitions culminating in play-off series, we are creating high-pressure matches at the business end of the season which will further aid players’ development through knock-out football and stimulate supporter interest.”
Complete fixture information for both competitions, including dates, venues and kick-off times, is subject to confirmation.
The Reserves competition Grand Final will take place on 17 September, followed by the Academy Grand Final on the weekend of 24 September.