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09 August 2023

Swinton Lions continue to develop links with Ireland Rugby League and Belfast Eagles

Swinton Lions’ Director of Development, Damian Ridpath, together with the Belfast Eagles’ co-founders and coaches Peter Robson and his wife Lisa, recently organised the second joint annual player and coaching development weekend in Belfast. The Eagles are a thriving community club in the heart of the city and are at the forefront of developing and promoting rugby league in Northern Ireland.

Gareth Pratt, the Swinton Lions Youth Player Development Coach, headed up this year’s programme of events. He led various coaching sessions through a fabulous weekend of rugby league for all of the club’s players. The age groups ranged from 6 years upwards, and on to the youth players and through to the seniors and masters.

In all around 100 participants spent the weekend enjoying the coaching sessions which included core skills development – catch, carry, pass, tackle technique, play-the-ball technique, defence, transition from offence to defence, responsibilities around the ruck area, modified games, team building, methods of improving communication skills – plus lots of fun games for all!

In addition to the coaching of the players, Gareth also took time to hold sessions for all the Belfast Eagles staff to assist with their own coaching development. Gareth explained the session plans, demonstrated methods of coaching the core skills and adding pressure during the sessions, then supervised the Eagles’ personnel whilst they coached the players, and advised them on coaching different skills and game tactics.

Gareth thanked all the club’s coaches, the chairman, secretary, safeguarding officer, laws of the game official, secretary and many more other voluntary helpers who assisted in providing everything needed throughout the weekend. The hospitality from all at the club was fabulous! Gareth added that the bond between the two clubs has grown beyond all expectations over a very short period, and he hoped to see the players and coaches at the Eagles continue on their development pathway.

The excellent club training facilities in Belfast were immaculate and perfect for the weekend of coaching sessions. Club volunteers also provided food and drinks for all the people participating in the sessions throughout both days.

Gareth, Peter and Lisa also held some very special award ceremonies at the close of the weekend’s events and it was wonderful to see so many smiling faces enjoying rugby league.

Peter and Lisa were very impressed with the way the development weekend went and hoped that the relationship with the Lions will continue to create  more opportunities for people to enjoy rugby league. They were enthused that the Belfast Eagles partnership with Swinton Lions would continue to build the profile of rugby league and increase participation in the sport across Belfast and Northern Ireland.

The Swinton Lions CEO, Steve Wild, added, “On behalf of the Lions I want to congratulate all concerned on a superbly successful weekend, the second of its kind. It’s so important that we continue to grow our relevance and brand as a club, both for our own benefit, and for the wider benefit of the sport. On behalf of the Lions’ Board, we wish every success to the Eagles, with the hope that the relationship between our clubs continues to blossom and bear fruit.”


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