Hull FC and the University of Hull have unveiled plans for a rugby league performance, education and community hub, including a new training base for the Black & Whites first-team and Center of Excellence.
Match-funded by Hull City Council, and based at the University of Hull, the hub will unite Hull FCs rugby pathways from first team to grassroots for the first time, as well as see University of Hull students offered work placements in key fields such as sports science, coaching, analysis and media.
The £1.5m project, which has also received financial support from the RLWC2021 “CreatedBy” Legacy Fund and Hull City Council, will create an unrivaled home for the club’s various teams and community rugby league activity as well as enhance the University’s first-class sports provision further.
It will offer enormous benefits not only to Hull FC and the University, but also the wider community, by creating an inclusive, high-quality provision to increase engagement and participation in rugby-related team sport coaching, community and education, regardless of background, age, disability or gender.
It is hoped that the new partnership will inspire a legacy for rugby league in the city, with a 110 per cent increase in participation targeted within the first five years.
The funding will also enable an extension to the existing University sports Pavilion to provide a home for the club’s first-team squad, development pathways and community activity – set to open in autumn 2023.
The new facility, which will include changing facilities, medical rooms, a video analysis suite and a clubhouse for players and spectators, will also be used for match days outside of the first-team squad, including academy, women’s and University teams, as well as providing a facility for local rugby league teams.
The first major milestone will be the upcoming Rugby League World Cup of which Hull is a host venue.
International team Fiji Bati RL, one of Hull FC’s international development partners, will be based at the University of Hull for the tournament, running from October 12 to November 19, which is a fitting way to acknowledge the financial support of the project from the RLWC “Created By” Legacy Fund.
Cllr Rob Pritchard, Portfolio Holder for Communities & Culture said: “We congratulate Hull FC and the University of Hull on this landmark and forward-thinking initiative, and we are delighted that the Council can provide match funding to support services at the new centre.
“We are determined to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the city and we look forward to seeing this incredibly ambitious program come to fruition; it is a fantastic development for sport and our city.
Hull FC Chief Executive, James Clark, said: “This is a landmark moment for our club that has been years in the planning, as we strive to better ourselves on and off the field.
“An extended eight-year Center of Excellence pathway from 14 to 23, including education and work experience, is an unrivaled opportunity for young rugby players in this city, as well as providing our first-team with the highest standard of training facilities.
“We must thank all the key stakeholders involved, including RLWC2021 and Hull City Council for their foresight and dedication in helping us make this ambition a reality, in particular Jeremy Hartley, Steve Curtis and the senior leadership team at the University of Hull.”
Steve Curtis, Head of Sport at University of Hull, added: “It is a unique partnership in the education sector which reaches far beyond just sport and facilities, we will use rugby league and the partnership to create a clear pathway to higher education for young people across the region. The partnership naturally creates some amazing teaching and research opportunities for Sport Health and Exercise Science students, however opportunities and benefits exist across the whole of the University from the Business School, Media Studies, Teaching and our own Rugby League program to name a few.”