Thunder accepted into 2020 reserve grade competition General August 11, 2019 Newcastle Thunder players will have additional playing opportunities in 2020, after the clubs application to join the Rugby Football League and Super League Europe’s new look Reserves competition. Thunder and Betfred Championship side Halifax RLFC will join the 11 English Betfred Super League clubs, Bradford Bulls and Widnes Vikings in fielding teams Providing Thunder with a complete playing pathway, the reserve side will join the current under 16s and under 19s sides and help continue to produce home-grown talent to represent the club’s first team. In addition to enhancing the progression ladder for the next generation of talent, the reserve team will also provide Thunder a valuable vehicle to offer additional game time to members of the seniors squad. Speaking about the club’s successful application, general manager Jordan Robinson said: “We’re delighted to have had our application to run a reserve grade and are looking forward to taking part in the new competition. “The reserves are going to form an important part of how we develop not only the club, but a first team playing squad that blends exciting, home-grown talents with some of the best English and overseas players.” With competition clubs now confirmed, details of the competition structure and fixture schedule will be finalised over the coming winter, with the RFL administered competition expected to run on a home and away basis, with no play-offs. As previously announced, the Academy will now become an Under-18s competition rather than Under-19s, with the dual registration and loan systems remaining unaffected. Dave Rotheram, the RFL’s Interim Chief On-Field Officer, said: “We’re pleased to confirm the acceptance of applications from Halifax and Newcastle Thunder to produce a 15-team Reserve Grade competition from 2020. “Halifax have been committed to the importance of reserve team rugby for a number of years, while Newcastle also submitted a thorough application which stressed the quality and quantity of their player supply through their established Academy structure. “We have explained to Keighley Cougars and Whitehaven that their applications fell short in meeting some of the essential criteria including that the proposed supply of players for both clubs would have significantly relied upon recruiting players from the community game. “We will continue to support them, and other clubs, as we monitor the return of the structured Reserve Grade competition next season – which as stated previously, is seen as a vital step in the talent and performance pathway, developing high quality players for Super League and England.” Reserve Grade, 2020: Bradford Bulls, Castleford Tigers, Halifax, Huddersfield Giants, Hull FC, Hull KR, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos, Newcastle Thunder, Salford Red Devils, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity, Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings, Wigan Warriors.