Academy Rated As Outstanding

Academy Rated As Outstanding

31st August 2017

Widnes Vikings are proud to announce that its Academy has maintained its Outstanding rating, following an independent assessment by the RFL this year.

The Outstanding rating ‘represents a level of performance, which exemplifies best practice’. The Vikings were found to have achieved the highest standards in all three areas of the review – meeting the needs of players, quality of delivery, and leadership and management.

The report highlighted that all aspects of the Vikings youth system are exceptional, from providing high-quality training to develop the skills and experience of players, through to promoting their educational development and supporting their overall welfare. 

The Widnes Vikings Academy was first rated as Outstanding in May 2015. The recent re-assessment highlighted that the Club has not only maintained this standard, but also delivered significant on-going improvement. Assessors found that this success is underpinned by Widnes Vikings having a shared ‘One Club’ culture, where all representatives of the Vikings – from Directors, to coaching staff and players – feel part of the Vikings family.  

The Academy has been integral to the Club’s success in recent seasons, with sixteen current first team squad members graduating from the Vikings youth system.

The Academy Audit for Widnes Vikings highlighted that: “As an established Outstanding Academy, Widnes Vikings provides a pathway for players to progress to full time professional Rugby League. There are currently sixteen Academy graduates in the current first team squad. The long-term approach and philosophy is evident in identification, recruitment, development and retention of players with the potential to succeed at the highest level. The Board recognise that club success and sustainability is dependent upon the youth programme, with continued investment in youth staff over the last twelve months reflecting this importance.”

Phil Finney, Head of Youth Performance at Widnes Vikings, says: “Achieving an Outstanding grading is the culmination of a lot of hard work by many.  The players that are now gaining recognition at international and senior level highlights the significant resource that has been invested over a number of years by the Club.

“Because of the dedication and commitment of our staff, the Academy programme continues to improve and is able to ensure that players are given the best possible environment to develop in.  Kurtis Marsh, Liam Myler, Ryan O'Brien and Sam Matheson have all been instrumental in shaping the programme at Scholarship and Academy level, and achieving an outstanding academy grading wouldn't be possible without their work ethic.  Having the experience of Brett Hodgson and Tim Holmes within the Academy and first team environment has also helped the transition of many of our players into the first team.

We strive to ensure that the players are given the optimal environment to fulfil their potential, and this requires a lot of training throughout the year.  The parents of our players are outstanding in the support they provide to their sons to enable them to fulfil their commitments. It can be arduous and time consuming at times, so we want to recognise the positive impact they have on the Club.

Finally, the effort and commitment of our players must be acknowledged.  To achieve your potential as a professional Rugby League player requires sustained training over a prolonged period of time.  The vast majority of our Academy players stay with the Club for the duration of Scholarship and Academy, with a significant number progressing to first team.  This commitment and loyalty is what drives the continued development of our youth programme forward to provide players for the first team in the future.”

James Rule, CEO of Widnes Vikings, says: “At Widnes Vikings, we have made our Academy system central to our strategy, investing considerable time, efforts and resource into it. We recognise that to be able to enjoy long-term success, we must identify and develop the best young-talent possible, and give them all the support necessary to make it in the Super League. It is pleasing to see this report recognise that our Academy is led by a talented and dedicated team, who not only want to support our young players to fulfil their potential on the pitch but also as people too.”

“I’d like to congratulate Phil Finney and his team for delivering such a strong and successful programme. Our Academy system stands as one of the absolute best in Rugby League, and this is something that our supporters can be very proud of. In sport, all supporters want to see their club develop its own talent, especially players from within their local community; Phil and his team are doing an exceptional job in achieving this for Widnes Vikings.”


Academy Rated As Outstanding