Hull FC were honoured to welcome Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales to the club’s new-look Centre of Excellence last Thursday, celebrating inclusivity in Rugby League, with the club boasting teams across as many as thirteen formats of the game.
Her Royal Highness, who is patron of the Rugby Football League, visited the University of Hull last week, where Hull FC’s Centre of Excellence is based, becoming the first member of the Royal Family to visit the club.
She specifically met participants from Hull FC’s Wheelchair, Learning Disability, Physical Disability and Sports College Rugby League teams as part of a visit to shine the spotlight on the inclusivity of the Centre of Excellence, as well as the power of sport in tackling inequalities and supporting players regardless of their background.
During the hour-long visit, which was hosted by Hull FC, the RFL and the University of Hull, the Princess of Wales took part in a Wheelchair Rugby League session with the Hull FC Wheelchair squad, led by members of the World Cup winning England Wheelchair Rugby League team.
She met Hull FC Wheelchair player-coach Mike Swainger, before trying her hand at some of the skills involved in Wheelchair Rugby League, which is currently the most inclusive format of Rugby League, providing opportunities regardless of gender or disability.
She also learned about Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL), a full contact version of the game adapted for players with physical disabilities who want to access a running version of the sport, and Learning Disability Rugby League (LDRL), a non-competitive version of the sport specifically adapted for those with learning disabilities. She took part in a skills session with Hull FCs PDRL and LDRL players.
The Princess of Wales also spoke with young people from Hull FC’s Centre of Excellence, which includes a Sports College that engages post-16 learners with an ambition to progress into the sporting industry, be it as an athlete, a coach or a physiotherapist.
Hull FC first-team star Davy Litten spoke to Her Royal Highness, explaining his route to professional Rugby League through the Centre of Excellence’s Sports College programme. She also spoke with Hull FC and England Academy player Jack Charles, and Hull FC Women’s and England DiSE player Alisha Roper, both of whom are currently studying at the Sports College.
The University and Hull FC share a strong partnership, with the club relocating all its 13 teams to the University last year, including its flourishing Centre of Excellence. The Centre of Excellence provides an unrivalled playing, training and education experience for young players.
The club will also benefit from a new building on the site which will commence this winter.
There is still time to apply for Hull FC’s Sports College programme for the current academic year. You can find out more information here
Hull FC Chief Executive James Clark said: “It has been an honour and our privilege to host Her Royal Highness and we are thrilled to have showcased the fantastic work that goes into all variations of our sport, not only in Hull, but across the game of rugby league.
“Her visit has been an invaluable reward for the hard work, commitment and dedication of so many people at our club who work tirelessly across the various teams within our Centre of Excellence, as well as showcasing the vast potential of our partnership with the University of Hull.
“Everyone involved welcomed her with excitement and gratitude, and hopefully we have left lasting impression as to what our sport and our community means to the people of Hull.”
He continued: “As a club, we are proud to represent our community and provide so many playing opportunities across all forms of the game, with rugby league being one of the benchmark sports for inclusivity and participation in this country.
“We are proud and humbled that Her Royal Highness and the RFL have recognised the work we do across the club and the Hull FC Community Foundation, and hopefully it has been a positive showcase for our sport on the whole.”
Professor Kevin Kerrigan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull, said the visit highlights the excellent work within the city on inclusion in sport as well as the strong partnership the University shares with Hull FC.
“It has been an amazing experience for those who were able to spend time with Her Royal Highness, showing their skill, dedication and passion for their sport.
The Princess’s visit has shone a light on the fantastic work going on within our city around inclusion in sport.
“It has also shown the benefits of uniting an academic institution with a sporting giant.
“The partnership we share with Hull FC transcends sport. It is a unique collaboration, providing a clear pathway to Higher Education for young people across the region via the club’s blossoming Centre of Excellence, as well as creating amazing teaching and research opportunities. These include applied research projects which have the dual benefit of ensuring Hull FC is at the forefront of performance science, whilst enhancing the career prospects of our students.
“Furthermore, our partnership brings enormous benefits to the wider community by creating an inclusive, high-quality provision to increase engagement and participation in rugby-related activities, regardless of background, age, disability or gender. Both Hull FC and the University of Hull hope the partnership will inspire a legacy for rugby league in the city, with a 110 per cent increase in participation targeted within the first five years.
“We are very proud of the partnership we share with Hull FC and the opportunities it affords to those at the University, Hull FC, and beyond.”