Sheffield Eagles have been forced to scrap their reserve team structure after missing out on ‘tier two’ Academy status - which means young talent in the city may now never fulfil their potential.
The news comes as a blow for the newly established full-time club who have prided themselves on bringing through talented youngsters, with the likes of Cory Aston, Ryan Millar and Greg Burns all graduating to the professional ranks in recent years.
With the Rugby Football League - the national governing body for Rugby League in the UK - failing to agree the Eagles’ application for tier two status, the plans for an Academy have been shelved, forcing the club’s hand in disbanding the reserve team structure.
In a statement the club said: “Due to not being able to run an Academy, there is no cohesive player pathway underneath our reserve side for this to be a viable option to run in 2016.”
A raft young hopefuls have now been given the devastating news that they need to find a new club a month into the new season, however the Eagles have stressed they “will be supporting those players affected by this to ensure they continue playing rugby league.”
Eagles Chief Executive John Whaling said in a statement: “This was a very hard decision for us to take as a club,”
“When we reformed the Sheffield Eagles after the merger with Huddersfield, we did so not only to keep rugby alive in Sheffield but also, to give the kids in the city a chance to play our great game.
“We have managed to do this with the majority of the funding being found from our own resources.
“We were very disappointed not to be awarded a tier two academy this year, and that now means that the pipeline of talent to progress to our reserve team is no longer available to us.
“We are very sad that this infrastructure has now been dismantled and we are left with only the first team however, we are hopeful that we will be able to start again at some time in the future.”
The decision not to grant the Eagles tier two status is thought in part down to their current home at the Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park.
The Eagles currently rent the facility from the University.
But they have stated that they remain on course for a new home for the start of the 2017 season.
The decision now means that the Eagles have withdrawn from the reserve league with immediate effect.