About the Rhinos Development Academy

Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Development Academy provides the opportunity for students to train, play and study full time at Leeds City College, whilst representing Leeds Rhinos at a post-16 level.

In terms of the Rugby Programme we offer a world class training and coaching environment under the Leeds Rhinos performance umbrella for:

  • Male and Female players leaving school with aspirations of progressing towards playing at a higher level in the professional or community game
  • We also strongly encourage players with a love for the sport who want to improve
  • Athletes from other sports who feel they have the transferable skills to succeed in Rugby League.

Our bespoke training and playing programmes are drawn from our proven developmental models at the Leeds Rhinos Academies and Scholarships, which allow players to develop their technical, tactical and physiological skill sets to maximise their progress and reach their full athletic potential.

Each training session will be carefully timetabled around the players academic responsibilities as we understand that education must be a priority.

Our coaches


Vikki Adams

Physio & Sports Therapist
pasted image 0 (-0-0

James Strudwick

Strength & Conditioning Coach
unnamed (2)

Dan Speirs

Head of Athletic Development
Mark Tinsdale - Rhinos Development Academy

Mark Tinsdale

First Team Assistant Coach
pasted image 0

Andrew Ali

First Team Assistant Coach
unnamed (4)

Dan Hardy

Head of Leeds Rhinos Development Academy

Our philosophy

Our vision is to promote the development of the ‘Student-Player’. We realise the importance of supporting and preparing young people for the wider world at post-16.

Offering them an opportunity to develop themselves both as players and students is one such way we can help. We will endeavour to highlight and promote the importance of the academic responsibilities of each player to support and challenge them to be successful.

We understand that each student may have a different educational requirements, and therefore want young people to be able to follow their own educational path as they play.


Example timetable

AMGymGame DayRehabGym
PMField TrainingField TrainingGame Day

Exit Routes

Rugby League Exit Routes

The RFL Development Academy Programme offers players who have not been afforded the opportunity to show their abilities at the professional academy level the chance to do just that. From here players are encouraged to perform and put themselves in the ‘shop window’ and carve out opportunities to kick onto professional set ups either with our own or other Professional Club Academy setups. 

Our coaches have well established links with clubs throughout the game and will strive to promote gifted and talented players through all their available channels and help them realise their playing potential., or indeed elsewhere.

Higher Education Exit Routes

Our coaches are all current college tutors and along with our other academic staff will help and guide you to achieving your academic goals. If this is to progress to your next level of education, at university, then our staff are committed to helping you achieve your desired grades and outcomes to get there.

Higher Education Rugby League Exit Routes

You may decide to continue both your academic and Rugby League development further by choosing a University Rugby League pathway. ll. The university pathway, now more than ever, has become an excellent route for aspiring professional players yet to receive an opportunity evident in recent times with Leeds Becket and Leeds Rhinos Reserves establishing a strong link and partnership. We have extensive links with national leading programmes at Leeds Beckett, University of Leeds, Leeds Trinity and University of Hull.

Industry Exit Routes

You may decide to go straight into an industry work setting after your time with us at college. We have extensive links within industry leaders in the city for Sport, Business and enterprise among others to help to get you where you want to be.


Ryan Taylor

Studied BTEC Level 3 in Sports Coaching, Fitness and Development.

Former player Leeds Beckett Sports Coaching 2nd year – Placement Assistant Coach.

Ryan was a former player and leadership member of the Leeds City College RL programme for 3 years and saw the transition from enrichment team to development academy first-hand.

To see how the whole Rugby programme has grown and developed is unbelievable to be honest. Raza Siddique was an important guy in keeping RL alive at the college for many years. Before he left his role, he got Dan (Hardy – Leeds Rhinos Development Academy Head) in and together they started to build something really good. I loved my time with the college, and it gave me the confidence to pursue a future at university where I study Sports Coaching at Leeds Beckett. This year I have been given another opportunity to be involved through the relationships the college has and am now a member of the support coaching staff as part of my Uni placement. The experience of working at the other side of this is great and one I believe will help me in my career moving forward”.



James Sedgwick

Studied BTEC Level 3 extended diploma in Sport.

Leeds Beckett Strength and Conditioning Masters – Current S&C coach.

James enjoyed 2 years with the Rugby Academy and has gone from strength to strength thereafter, quite literally! Currently well into his Masters in Strength & Conditioning at Leeds Beckett, James decided to take up an opportunity through the university to become an integral part of the Development Academy Staff. He joined in September as our Strength & Conditioning Intern where he supports and leads on the development strategy outlined by our senior Strength & Conditioner Dan Spiers.

During my time at college, I studied a level 3 extended diploma in sport whilst I played for the rugby academy. After I left college, I went on to study an undergraduate degree in sports coaching which I have now completed and I have started a masters degree in strength and conditioning. I have set up my own business working with athletes across various levels of sports and competitions. If I could give one piece of advice to anyone who is thinking of joining the academy, I would say it would be possibly the greatest opportunity for you at this stage of life, it opens so many doors for opportunity and success.’’



Shannon Lacey

Studied Supporting Learning and Physical Education and School Sport Diploma Level 3 (then graduated onto the Leeds Rhinos Foundation Apprenticeship).

Currently Working as one of the Women and Girls development officers at the Leeds Rhinos Foundation whilst also playing for the Leeds Rhinos Women’s first team further representing Yorkshire and England.

Link to Shannon’s Story here: 



Leeds City College