ORLFC clarify Scholarship Scheme

Date published: Monday, December 20, 2010

Oldham Rugby League Club wishes to clarify a number of “untruths” and “scare mongering” regarding the recently announced Championship Scholarship Scheme.

The RFL have made it clear from the outset that players who join this scheme MUST be allowed to finish any commitments they have to their amateur clubs. We have no problem with that, nor will we have any problem in future.

It has been wrongly reported in the Oldham Evening Chronicle that we have had “our attempt to enter a team into the league” rejected by the National Youth League. Teams in the National Youth League are amateur teams and the application was made by Oldham Limehurst, not by ORLFC.

Oldham Limehurst is the name of a new amateur team we have been working upon creating as a result of several months of discussions with one of our partners, REGENDA, in the area around our ground at Whitebank.

The creation of a junior section had been agreed as a way forward to develop community links in that area and to provide another sporting option for Limehurst children.

Since that was agreed the Championship Scholarship has been introduced and Oldham were looking to run a team in the same way that Gateshead, Keighley, Workington and Whitehaven have done in previous years via an amateur club.

We have been open and honest in our dealings regarding our Scholarship, to the point that all the local clubs were contacted prior to our announcement of the scheme and told, in writing, that it was not our intention to undo any of the work they are already doing with young players.

Phil Bradbury, secretary of the Oldham and District Amateur League, wrote to the Gillette National Youth League Committee, without speaking to me or anybody else at the club to first ascertain the facts.

Had he taken the time to do that, a lot of the misconceptions would have been quashed, in particular the one arising from his comment that “a number of their players, we are led to believe, are from the Saddleworth Rangers club.”

That could not be further from the truth. We held two meetings with potential players for the Scholarship. These totalled nearly 50, plus parents, and of those players only one was from Oldham and even he was not from Saddleworth Rangers, who are the only local club with a team in the National Youth League.

We have worked hard over the years to maintain a healthy link with local clubs and most of them are behind this new Scholarship. However, it is important for the club to present the facts publicly in order to avoid wrong impressions being drawn.

The club will continue with its Championship Scholarship scheme and the determination and resolve of all concerned to make it work has only been strengthened by this latest blip. We remain fully committed and focused on making this work whilst underlining that this scheme is all about offering opportunities to young rugby league players.