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Roughyeds in links with North Herts Crusaders

ROUGHYEDS can this evening announce the launch of a formal partnership with Southern Conference club, North Herts Crusaders, who are based in Hitchin and are part of the ever-growing grassroots rugby league scene in the London area.

Several players from the South of England are currently on contract with Super League clubs, while others are playing in the Betfred Championship.

Crusaders have an open-age team in the Southern Conference, a second open-age team in the Eastern Premier League and junior teams at under-13s, under-14s, under-15s and under-16s.

The juniors are affiliated to the London Junior Leagues and over the last seven years several of them have signed for professional clubs on full-time contracts.

Formed in 2012, and currently enjoying their tenth anniversary season, Crusaders have previously had a player-pathway with London Broncos, for whom one of their own, Jordan Williams, is currently in the Broncos squad.

Joe Hall, another product of the North Herts club, is currently playing on contract, and to a good standard, in the Penrith area of New South Wales in Australia.

In announcing the new partnership, Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton said:

“This is the first time we’ve had formal links with a club outside the pro game.

“It’s a way in which we can diversify our involvement in rugby league and give all the help we can to a go-ahead club that is at the heart of a development area in North Hertfordshire.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to provide advice and general help, dipping into our experience over many years, to help them in areas where help is not readily available to them.

“In reality, it is more likely initially that it will be more about what we can give them in terms of help and advice.

“However, they have produced a number of lads who have gone on to play professionally and others who have come to our area for university etc . It may be that, further down the line, we could get a player or players who come up here.

“In the meantime, we can take advantage of modern technology such as Zoom to have virtual meetings with them and, thanks to Stu Littler and his staff, provide help and advice on things like coaching, medical matters, strength and conditioning.

“We also hope that in the not-too-distant future, they will be able to attend a game at the Vestacare Stadium, which will help to further strengthen links between our two clubs.”

Crusaders chairman Oliver Adams said they had previously had an unofficial player pathway with Broncos, but they hoped for much more for both clubs out of the formal partnership with Oldham.

He added:

“We live in an area dominated by rugby union, but we find generally that as soon as local lads try rugby league, they absolutely love it.

“There was a time when they would play league and union, but we now find more and more of them are happy to play league exclusively.

“It makes sense for us to have a formal link with a club in the heartlands and who better, in Betfred League One, than with a long-established club like Oldham ?

“They can mentor us. They are steeped in history and they possess vast experience and knowledge which we can tap into.

“We have lots of lads who go north for university and further education and that could provide for them player opportunities outside London and up in the heartlands.

“As well as all that, we can draw on Oldham’s experience, as provided by their coaching and backroom staff.

“This partnership will also help us to spread the word of rugby league down here. We are growing all the time in terms of numbers and participation (we have two open-age sides with a senior squad of about 40 players), but the more publicity we can get the better .

“In terms of a second team, we decided to go for another open-age team, the Knights, rather than an under-18s, but we still have a direct pathway for lads who are too old for under-16s to move up to the Knights.”

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