As Wigan rugby union’s junior section continues to grow, the on-field success of the teams has started to attract significant interest from Sale Sharks.
Over the past 10 years the club have moved from being a fringe development club in Lancashire rugby union to one that now consistently competes with and beats the more renowned clubs such as Waterloo, Preston Grasshoppers, Fylde and the like, as well as toppling challengers from Cumbria, Cheshire and most pleasingly Yorkshire.
More renowned as a town with a rich history of success in rugby league, Wigan RUFC is actively bucking this trend tapping into the rich pool of rugby mad talent that exists, and encouraging them to follow in the footsteps of Chris Ashton, Andy Farrell, Joel Tomkins and most recently Josh Charnley, and turn their hand to rugby union.
The last few years has seen more than 20 junior players get selected for the Lancashire Rugby Union/Sale Sharks Developing Player Programme.
Several players have been offered and accepted scholarships at the country’s top rugby playing schools such as Kirkham Grammar School and Wellington.
The club have seen players moving on to represent the North of England and, just last season, two players went on to represent England at under-18s level.
We have embedded a lot of the teaching from Sale Sharks into our training sessions and are already seeing resultsStuart Carter
This growth has attracted the attention of professional rugby union clubs, with Sale Sharks actively forging links with the club and offering their support to player development.
A coaches’ development session co-ordinated by Sale Sharks community coaching team has already had a huge impact on the juniors training programme and the club are delighted with the offer of further support over the coming season.
Stuart Carter, junior coach, said: “We have embedded a lot of the teaching from Sale Sharks into our training sessions and are already seeing results. We already have a very successful teams at all age groups made up of rugby mad kids who play both codes and have been winning festivals and competitions both in the North West and over in Yorkshire.
“The link-up with Sale though has taken us up another level and allowed us to show the children how they can see a clear route to developing their skills further by following the coaching programme Sale Sharks are encouraging.”
Last week Sale Sharks coaches descended on the club to support the club’s junior training sessions where more than 150 youngsters benefited from their professional coaching input.
The partnership will also see Wigan RUFC host its first ever Sale Sharks rugby development camp on October 24 and 25, in the hope that talented players of either code can develop their core skills through the Sale Sharks programme.
You can book your spot on it by visiting www.rugbycamps.com or contact the Community Trust Offices on 0161 667 7516.
The club would welcome new players from U6s through to senior rugby ages, of all experience from rugby union and any rugby league players who fancy giving union a go in the off season, or who have never played rugby before – but fancy giving it a go.
For more information contact junior coach Mike Parker 07810 546672.