Saddleworth Rangers are driving up standards with their thriving youth section

THE future of Saddleworth Rangers is in good hands if the accolades achieved during 2017 are any guide.

Callum Murphy and Thomas Whitehead

And Rangers are on a new year recruitment drive to ensure even more success for the Greenfield based amateur rugby league side for 2018 and beyond.

The Shaw Hall Bank Road outfit boasts a thriving junior section engaging with between 150-200 youngsters in age group teams from U8s to U18s with the exception of U17s level.

Five prospects: Gabriel Payne and Thomas Whitehead (Warrington Wolves), Fenton Rogers, Fred Rimmer and Bennett Tupaea (Huddersfield Giants) are on scholarship schemes linked to the respective Super League clubs.

Thomas and Callum Murphy won the premier division U15s and division two U13s player-of-the-year awards after the 2017 North West Counties League campaign.

Callum Taylor was also among the nominees for the division two U15s player of the year.

“It takes us a few years to catch up with the likes of sides from Wigan,” added club official and coach John Whitehead.

“But when we get to that age where the fear of height and size goes, it begins to level out and we go down there beating them most of the time.”

Rangers also profited from hosting the Oldham Amateur League Junior Cups Finals.

The U12s beat Waterhead Warriors 48-0 to suitably impress Rugby Oldham official, Geoff Cooke.

He said: “About once in a generation an exceptional team of young players emerges.

“I think we have seen that team today.”

Tom Whitehead, Fenton Rogers and Gabriel Payne

Additionally, the U14s defeated St Anne’s 16-0 while the U15s finished runners-up to St Anne’s.

“It just shows from early doors at eights and nines, players are being coached the right way up to where they are present,” added John.

“It proves we are all going in the right direction.

“Indeed, it has given the coaches a new lease of life seeing the kids doing so well.”

On the scholarship awards John said: “It is not the be all and end all if you don’t get one. But it’s great when kids are acknowledged.

“It means extra training for them at professional clubs but they can bring that knowledge back to Rangers to help out their mates.”

Rangers engage with local schools to find potential new players while community staff from Huddersfield Giants regularly cross the border from West Yorkshire into Saddleworth to spread the rugby league gospel.

“Some lads find football isn’t for them so they try rugby instead,” added John.

“But there is more to it than just playing.  We don’t just play and go.

“We all socialise after games so you might have four teams in the clubhouse after a game.

“That’s when the coaches decide on their man of the match awards and ‘top tackles’ for the younger ones.”

Matches are generally played on Sundays, training takes place on different nights depending on the age group while the 2018 season begins in March rather than February as usual.

For more information on Rangers’ junior section contact John on 07760 351359 or visit the club website:


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