Widnes Vikings are delighted to announce the launch of a new Development Academy in partnership with Riverside and Cronton College.

The exciting new partnership presents a pathway for local, young players to potentially play for the club. It will also see the re-launch of the college’s Female Academy.

The team will be known as the Widnes Vikings Development Academy and will be made up of 16-18-year-olds.

The team has already had considerable success this season winning 7 games from 7.

Today saw them play Salford Red Devils in a game hosted behind closed doors at the DCBL Stadium where they ran out 38-18 winners.

Head Coach Allan Coleman said: “It’s fantastic to see the college playing at the stadium, they have done brilliantly this year and it just shows the talent within the area.

“Moving forward our development teams are vitally important to me and the club, and they will run alongside each other.

“The club has been working hard behind the scenes to get this up and running and with the college on board now everything is moving in the right direction.”

He added: “This is a great initiative and one that I, and my staff, are all looking forward to embracing and developing.

“We want Widnes lads to want to play for the Vikings and although it will take some time this is the start of that process.”

Head of Operations Christopher Hamilton commented: “We have been working towards this day for a considerable period of time now, as it has been something that the club has wanted to put in place.

“We all know Widnes is a hotbed of talent and this is the first step towards creating a pathway for players to have an opportunity to play for the club.

“Through our ongoing partnership with Riverside and Cronton College, we have the chance to lay the first of several building blocks that will enable us to provide support, expertise, and guidance to the 16-18-year-old players, some of whom are already at clubs on scholarship and academy level.

“This will allow us to start to tap into a player pool that has not been available for several years.”

He added: “The Development Academy will benefit from the expertise our Performance Staff can bring, together with the facilities at the DCBL Stadium. This will enable the players to get additional benefits currently not available to them.

“We are all looking forward to developing the partnership in the coming months.”

Iain Douglas, Head of Sport at Riverside and Cronton College said: “This is a really exciting development for our Centre of Excellence Rugby Programme.

“Players will get opportunities to be coached by elite coaches on player development days, access strength and conditioning support, have opportunities to play at the DCBL Stadium and players will be tracked and monitored by Viking staff providing a realistic pathway for future player progression.”

Cronton College Coach, Greg Pichilingi said: “Since we told the lads (about the development academy), you could just see the excitement between them all.

“I think with this in place now, when we’re speaking with the current year 11’s and engaging with them at open evenings it will hopefully recruit more players who want to come to our college and play for the team here rather than going out of town.”

Everyone at the club is thrilled to have this pathway in place to offer an opportunity for the exciting talent in the local area to represent the club in the future.