A new semi-professional Rugby League side Oxford RL are to play at Iffley Road during the 2013 season.
The club, which only formed in September 2012, are set to play in Championship One of the RFL ladder- the third tier of national Rugby League. Agreement has been made for the club to use the University’s Iffley Road Sports Ground, currently home to Oxford University Rugby Football Club.
The club have built strong relationships with, Oxford University, Oxford Brookes and the Armed Forces along with local Rugby Union clubs, whom they hope will back the introduction of this traditionally northern sport into Oxfordshire. Chief Executive Tony Colquitt is particularly pleased at the permission granted to use the ground. “It had to be a bespoke rugby stadium, and for me that meant Iffley Road, the iconic and historic home of Oxford University Rugby Union Club. I have to say the Union club and its board have been fully supportive. Once we had agreed the use of Iffley Road the business plan fell into place.” The club are proud to have a strong local connection, with players already signed up from the Oxford Brookes Rugby League team.
The idea for the club was originally devised by Professor Simon Lee and Andrew Thomas (Head of Sport Development for Oxford University). The team will be one of three new sides entered into the division along with Hemel Stags and the Gloucestershire All Golds. Within the first team, some experienced figures and impressive names have already signed up for the 2013 season; players coming from the likes of Widnes Vikings, Salford City Reds and Warrington Wolves have been brought in to help develop the less experienced players which the club are signing. The club also have an important partnership with Super League outfit Wakefield Wildcats and strong relationships with London Broncos and Australian side Sydney Roosters.
In particular, Media Officer Ryan Cousins says the club is aiming to introduce fans new and existing to the less well-known code of the game. “Rugby League is a fantastic sport. Supporters from the University and the surrounding areas are our key target market for fans. We have put together a brilliant team and we want to see more people involved in the sport. Oxford is a very historic city and we want to play our part in it.”
For Oxford RL’s first few seasons within the Semi-Professional arena, CEO Tony Colquitt hopes to establish the club within the region and consolidate their league position. “Our ambitions are pretty realistic. There is no drive for Super League. The club will represent the whole of Oxfordshire and the intention is to make it a local team managed by local people. If we get the game played within the schools and colleges of Oxford, whilst playing at a decent level, will represent a great success for the game. We want to deliver pathways both on and off the field and work closely with all of our partners.”
The first home league match at Iffley Road will be played on 14th April against the South Wales Scorpions at 3pm. Oxford RL is a club largely run by volunteers. To get involved in any capacity, contact Ryan Cousins on firstname.lastname@example.org.