By Joseph Keith
Headingley Hawks Rugby Club has been forced to close its under 13’s rugby team and its new under 12’s team is also threatened by closure after failing to attract enough young players.
Catherine Conboy, 42, of Meanwood, is the club’s secretary. She told Yorkshire Voice that despite the club’s best efforts to recruit a full team, there hasn’t been enough players to fill out the squad.
She said: “We have been campaigning for weeks but despite going into schools and putting up posters, we had no choice but to disband the team. It’s sad because all of the lads have played and trained for years. It’s been so hard for them to move on.”
The boys have played together in the U13’s team at Headingley Hawks and they moved up the ranks with each other from being eight-years-old, even though some of them are a year apart.
They under 12s and under 13s had been playing as one team, but the older boys had grown up too much – meaning the teams had to split.
As a result, there has been a lack of interest in the U13’s and the five older boys have been forced to leave the club and join North Leeds Leopards in Moortown.
The head coach of Headingley Hawks, Paul Jennings, 48, of Meanwood, said: “We struggle to attract local boys. We’ve only got one from Headingley, all the other boys travel from Crossgates, Bramley and Woodhouse.”
Headingley Hawks’ U12’s are now also struggling to attract new young players to join the new team, only filling 16 of the 25 spaces so far. If they cannot complete their squad soon they may also be forced into closure and the boys would have to fan out around other Leeds rugby youth teams.
Mr. Jennings added: “We’re losing kids. It’s hard to say but kids at the moment go trophy hunting. We cannot make the league organizers put us in a higher league.”
Leeds Rhino’s and Leeds Rugby Foundation’s club development officer, Sam Horner, said: “We will strive to increase participation in Rugby League in Leeds. Headingley Hawks are a member of our ambassador scheme and we will be working closely with them and monitoring the issue.”
LISTEN: Headingley Hawks’ head coach Paul Jennings and club secretary Catherine Conboy talk about club’s under 13’s team being forced to disband.