Category Archives: Rugby

New Community Box At Bradford Bulls

In partnership with West Yorkshire Police, Bradford Bulls are delighted to officially open their ‘Community Box’ – situated in the Sekhon Group Stand at Odsal Stadium.

The Community Box will be attended by 10 children each game and hosted by West Yorkshire Police, these are children who would not normally get the chance to attend and watch the Bulls.

This community based initiative brings together local businesses who have funded the community box where children and young people can come together to enjoy the match day experience. The partnership also sees the police Early Help teams working with the Bradford Bulls on matchdays providing refreshments, support and safe environments following successful engagement with local support services.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Farrell of Bradford District Police said:
“The initiative came as part of our wider commitment to neighbourhood policing in South Bradford, working closely with wider partnerships seeking to identify early intervention opportunities for children and young people preventing them getting involved with crime and Anti-Social behaviour.”

“Through positive engagements with the on track programme, young people are rewarded for taking part and they can now see how sport can provide positive lifestyle choices.”

“I am grateful for the support or Arif and Safeer, local business owners who have provided the funding for this initiative and the continued engagement and willingness to deliver an effective partnership from Joe Pitts as commercial director and Tracy Erby as general manager. The partnership is continuing to flourish as we seek to build on this with the Bradford Bulls foundation working with the chief executive, Chris Chamberlain as part of the longer term community intervention work.”

Judith Cummins, South Bradford MP said: “I would like to congratulate everybody for coming together, great to see a positive initiative with Bradford businesses, Bradford Bulls, West Yorkshire Police and Bradford police coming together to make a real difference investing in the future of young people, it is really positive.”

Chris Chamberlain, Bradford Bulls Foundation Chief Executive said:
“This is a massive opportunity that we really welcome, using sport as a tool to engage with young people to make a positive difference in Bradford. These partnerships are really welcome and we look forward to developing this moving forward.”

We would like to place on record our thanks to Smorgasbord Coffee Bar (Arif Mehmood) and International Restaurant (Safeer Khan) for their contribution to this partnership.

Bulls Pass Junior Season Ticket Milestone

Bradford Bulls are delighted to announce we have passed another milestone in our Kids Go Free campaign – with over 15,000 FREE Junior Season Tickets now distributed.

Over 250 schools have been visited in the Bradford area, alongside over 120 businesses – all receiving one message. KIDS GO FREE.

Bradford Bulls Media & Marketing Manager Luke Mawson said: “Kids Go Free was, and remains, the cornerstone of our 2023 marketing campaign.”

“We are incredibly passionate about engaging with juniors in Bradford and beyond and making watching rugby league at Odsal Stadium affordable.”

“We have distributed 15,000 free season tickets, having visited over 250 schools and over 100 businesses in Bradford, but our work is by no means done.”

“We invite people of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs to our safe, fun and welcoming environment.”

“Plans are well underway to make the match day experience more enjoyable for juniors and all fans alike, and we will constantly be engaging with our local community with all things rugby league.”

“Our mission was to let every child under the age of 18 – in and around the Bradford area – know they can come to our matches for free, and we will not stop until we achieve that goal.”

Hull Kingston Rovers Welcome David Kilburn To Board

Hull KR is delighted to welcome David Kilburn to the newly formed board of directors. David joins the recently appointed, James McNicol alongside Chair Paul Sewell, the club’s Chief Executive, Paul Lakin, and Robins’ owner Neil Hudgell.

After founding MKM Building Supplies in 1995, David has grown the business to become the UK’s fastest growing builders’ merchant with over 100 branches, operating the length and breadth of the UK.

David is excited by the opportunity to leave his mark on East Hull and said: “I see joining the board of Hull KR as a real privilege. As someone who’s not been a fan of Rugby League previously, this is an opportunity for me to understand the game and help see if I can lift the Robins into being the team at the top again.”

“Joining the Board of Hull KR is an opportunity to help create something really special on the East side of the city. As MKM, we have been supporting Hull City Football Club for over 20 years, and it’s time we had a presence closer to our base in the East to compliment it. Big changes are coming to how the league is run, and I’m excited by the plans the club has in embracing them.”

“When Paul Sewell asked me if I was interested in joining the board, I was flattered but I reminded him that I’m a football man. However, he soon convinced me that I could contribute, and that he and the rest of the board had plans to take the club on a journey of success. I’m really looking forward to getting involved and understanding much more about the club, and the opportunity to help with its future.”

Hull KR Chair Paul Sewell is delighted to capture and attract such a leading business figure to the club. “David Kilburn is one of the outstanding entrepreneurs and business people of his generation. He has been an associate and friend for over 40 years, so I know he will bring experience, wisdom and balance to our new board.”

“We feel this a great start to the recruitment of our board, and we will add more to create a team working together as one. Discussions with others, to give us the balance we need, are progressing well, and we anticipate to be able to make further announcements shortly.”

“Alongside James, we are all delighted that they have chosen to join us, and we can’t wait to get cracking in February.”

Fantastic New Signing For The Bradford Bulls

Bradford Bulls are delighted to announce the signing of Papua New Guinea star Keven Appo on an initial one-year deal with the option of a second year – subject to international clearance!

The 23-year-old played a starring role as the Kumuls reached the quarter finals of this year’s Rugby League World Cup, before exiting at the hands of Shaun Wane’s England.

Appo, who was born in the Eastern Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea, has plied his trade for PNG Hunters in Australia’s second tier.

Head coach Mark Dunning has spoken of his delight at securing the signature of a long-term target – insisting the forward will bring intensity with and without the ball in 2023.

“I am really, really pleased we have managed to get the deal done – this started prior to the World Cup we identified him as someone we wanted then after which the World Cup has only shown us and everyone how good he is,” said Dunning, who is sponsored by Natalie Lane.

“He is a big robust human being – everything he does he does with energy, he carries hard and dents defences, he has a real desire to hit hard in defence also I think he will be a real crowd favourite who will get the fans off their seats and clapping.”

“He is going to add to and complement our group we already have in the building, we identified certain areas he will bring things such as his infectious energy and commitment and Keven is really looking forward to getting over and we are looking forward to having him.”

“I am really content with where we are at the moment, Michael [Lawrence] joined us last week and has come straight into training, Keven will join us in due course when he’s rested from the World Cup.”

“Some of our existing players who played in the World Cup like AJ Wallace, Brad Ho, Chester Butler are all back in and around the building so we are looking healthy, fresh, energised and committed, ready to rip in to an intense pre-season.”

Another Signing For The Bulls!

Bradford Bulls are delighted to announce Betfred League One Winner Dalton Desmond-Walker has signed a one-year deal with the club!

The former Keighley man, who was part of their unbeaten League One winning campaign joins up with Mark Dunning’s Squad in 2023, after impressing in the Reserves in 2022!

Desmond-Walker, who is originally from Australia, joined the club on dual-reg last season and put in a number of good performances in the Reserves, most recently vs Greece in the World Cup Warm-Up game.

The powerhouse prop commented on the move, and how ‘proud’ he is to have signed for the Bradford Bulls. “It’s a proud day for me and my family, to be a part of a historic organisation and team such as the Bradford Bulls, I cannot wait to get started,” said Dalton, who is available for sponsorship.

“Personally, I’m thrilled to sign here, my family are both fans of the sport and have supported me since i was young, they’re both so proud of me.”

“I’m ready to start pre-season and rip in, I can’t wait to meet the other blokes and start a new chapter in my career in Rugby League, the excitement and a goal to achieve is going to help create a buzz around the stadium.”

“The brand is renowned in Rugby League, so the chance to pull on the jersey and create new moments to cherish as well as earning the respect of the fans and staff alike was one I couldn’t turn down.”

“If I was to give a message to the fans, it would be that you all ride the rollercoaster of emotions like we do, and I’m thankful for that as it shows passion and emotion, I’m going to bring effort, energy and hard work to Odsal. Let’s look at the positives, we have Super League quality players and World Cup players, some try-scoring machines and some established campaigners who have leadership skills as well as the hard-working blokes who are here for the long haul.”

The 6’2″ prop will add some strength and no-nonsense battle to Mark Dunning’s 2023 pack, as the forward will originally join the club as a squad player, as Head Coach Mark Dunning explains below.

“Dalton came to us last year on an agreement with Keighley, that he could play for our reserves, and he quickly became infectious within the group, he slotted straight in and was a good presence around the squad,” said Mark, who is sponsored by Crystal Clear Bi-Folds.

“We sat down with Dalton recently and he asked the club for an opportunity to prove himself, to earn his place in the squad and he’s willing to work to prove his worth.”

“Dalton will join the club as a squad player to start with, we’ve been open and honest with him in discussions, but I’d like to use AJ (Wallace) as an example, that the outstanding contribution he made to the team after coming in as a squad player, the chance is there for Dalton.”

“If he conducts himself well and plays well, he’ll be knocking on the door of that First Team and he won’t be far away in the future, we’ve made it clear the opportunity is there.”

“It’s a real positive signing for the club, it’s up to Dalton to make the season how he wants it, and he knows he needs to work hard for this club, that work starts now.”

Bulls Secure Walker Signature!

Bradford Bulls are delighted to announce we have seen off competition to secure the signing of exciting full-back Jack Walker on a one-year deal!

The 23-year-old arrives at Odsal Stadium from Grand Finalists Leeds Rhinos, and the club would like to thank the Bradford Bulls Squad Booster Association for their support in securing Walker’s signature.

Walker came through the Academy ranks at the Rhinos and made his senior bow in 2017, going on to start at full-back in their 2017 Grand Final victory over Castleford Tigers. He has since gone on to make over 80 appearances in the sport’s top tier for Leeds and Hull FC – where he enjoyed a loan spell at the end of the 2022 season.

Having also featured for England Knights, Walker has spoken of his excitement to sign for Bradford!

“The club’s going in the right direction, and I want to be a part of that, it’s a great club to sign for and when I’ve spoken to Mark (Dunning) it made my mind up, this is the club I want to play for, said Walker, who is available for sponsorship.”

“I’m looking forward to working with Mark, he wants to stamp his own culture on this club and with the players he’s bringing in, it caught my eye and made me want to be a part of this club.”

“I’ve got plenty of Super League experience in my time at Leeds and Hull, so I believe I can bring that know how to Bradford and impress the fans with how I play, Mark wants to give me the freedom when I play.”

“In the past, I’ve been on the opposite end of the Bradford fans, so it will be good to have them cheering my name and I want to give my all for this club, it’s a proud moment for me.”

“If I was to give a message to the fans, it would be that I can’t wait to get going and playing in front of the fans, they’re some of the best around and I want to help in putting a smile on their faces and getting the club back into Super League, where this club belongs.”

Head coach Mark Dunning has hailed Walker’s capture as a significant coup for the club – insisting the full-back ticks all the boxes ahead of 2023.

“I am really delighted, it is a deal we have been trying to do for a few months, we identified Jack a long time ago he and knew he would add to our group so I am delighted we have got the deal done,” said Dunning, who is sponsored by Crystal Clear Bi-Folds.

“He will bring experience, quality and a real calmness. The biggest thing I can say is he is 100% fully committed and really excited to get into pre-season and meet the boys and the energy his signing will bring will lift the group.”

“It is a good sign that the club can attract a player of Jack’s calibre. I’ve had a number of meetings with Jack and he is excited by the project here, he has 100% bought into what we are trying to do.”

“Jack is Super League quality there is no doubt about that, he has the desire to play Super League again and now his number one preference is to do that in a Bradford Bulls shirt so he ticks all the boxes in that regard.

“There are a number of plates spinning at the moment like Jack, hopefully more will fall into place soon. The supporters have been really patient and have been wanting a signing like this, this is the first part of hopefully a few more deals like this to come.”

See Jack in action with a #MomentsLikeThis Early Bird Season Ticket – with the deadline fast approaching!

Grassroots Rugby League Tournament To Shine A Light

The City of Hull and District Rugby League (COHDRL) will host the youth games, starting this Saturday, together with partners including Hull City Council, to raise awareness of black contribution for October’s Black History Month, and celebrate and promote youth achievement in the sport of Rugby League.

All games will be played at the Sewell Group Craven Park stadium and will showcase the fantastic youth talent that take part in local Rugby League championships. Each match being an East Hull vs West Hull set up with the first game on offer being the Venture Smith East V West U11’s Cup on Saturday (1 October).

Leader of Hull City Council, Councillor Mike Ross said: “I am delighted Hull City Council is able to support such a fantastic grassroots event as the East v West rugby league youth games. It is an important year for Hull, where we are building up to hosting three fantastic Rugby League World Cup games, which we hope will not only inspire residents to get behind the British teams, and our host team Fiji, but also inspire the youth of Hull to achieve their rugby league dreams!”

“Not only does this event promote grassroots rugby league in Hull but it also raises awareness of two incredibly important causes that Hull City Council full support – Black History Month and the ‘Tackle It’ Campaign.”

The partnership also includes the city’s two Super League clubs Hull KR and Hull FC, Back to Ours, Humberside Police, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service and Hull University WISE (Wilberforce Institute of Slavery and Emancipation).

Rob Wilson, Academy Pathways Coordinator for Hull Kingston Rovers said: “COHDRL fully support Black History Month and the Tackle It Campaign. The six games, East v West, over the three game days at Sewell Group Craven Park, at six different age groups from Under 11 to Under 16, will give children, both boys and girls, with a wide range of backgrounds in the local community an opportunity to showcase their talent at a young age.”

Other games include the Clive Sullivan East V West U12’s and will be played over the next two weekends with 10am and 11.30am kick off times, and no pre-booking required. Entry is £3 on the gate and £1 for U16’s and OAP’s, and includes a 16-page souvenir programme.

Bradford Council Announce Ambitious Plans For Rugby League Centre

Bradford Council has unveiled plans to build a regional skills centre for Rugby League and the largest covered stadium in England as part of a new complex for elite sports which would put the city back at the heart of the thirteen-a-side code.

The plans would lead to the delivery of a world-class training complex for elite sports in Odsal accompanied by a Skills, Training and Education Centre for Rugby League and a new 25,000-capacity home for the Bradford Bulls, which could host international matches and significant domestic matches such as the semi-finals of The Betfred Challenge Cup.

The news comes five months after Super League (Europe) signed a 12-year strategic partnership with IMG – a global leader in sports events, media and fashion – to reimagine Rugby League and its competitions in the UK.

The scheme has been announced with just weeks to go until the start of the Rugby League World Cup, an event which will bring the world’s greatest players to England for the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup finals.

The new skills and training facility – built in conjunction with the Rugby Football League as part of its national OuRLeague Life programme – would be shared by elite players, match officials, and young people and adults from across Yorkshire and the North East. It would complement a similar project planned in Manchester.

As the largest permanently roofed stadium in England the new venue in Odsal would also become home to other nationally significant sporting such as boxing and enable the city to become a home for major music, entertainment and cultural performances, capitalising on the legacy which will be left by Bradford’s successful bid to become UK City of Culture in 2025.

The complex would include a multi-storey car-park, complete with rooftop sports pitches. The car-park would be linked to a park and ride that can dramatically cut congestion and emissions by providing shuttle services for the new sports stadium in Odsal and motorists driving in to Bradford from the M62.

The complex would also lead to the creation of a new 105-bedroom hotel and five new sports pitches for rugby and football, while also improving the two existing community sports pitches. Energy for the scheme would be provided by a 55,000 sqm solar farm built on-site to provide renewable energy.

Independent economic analysis estimates that the new sports complex would attract more than 1.25m visitors a year, more than half of which would be outside Bradford, and lead to £625m visitor spend and more than £1bn of socio economic benefits for Bradford district.

The stadium and elite sports complex would also create 480 full time jobs over a decade.

The new stadium, and wider complex, would become home to Bradford Bulls and be built on the current Odsal stadium site, which was erected in the 1930s to rival Wembley as a national home of Rugby League.

Both The RFL and Bradford Council believe the sport has huge latent potential in the city of Bradford, as well as across Yorkshire and the North East, nationally and internationally.

Odsal stadium still holds the record for attendance for a rugby match in the UK, with more than 102,000 officially attending the 1954 Rugby League Challenge Cup final replay and an estimated audience of more than 120,000.

The Bradford Bulls were the country’s leading club in the early 2000s, winning Super League three times in five seasons between 2001 and 2005 and becoming World Club Champions three times between 2002 and 2006.

The club went into liquidation in 2017, before being resurrected, and currently remain outside the top flight having played a season away from Odsal in 2019.

The new stadium would retain Odsal’s iconic bowl structure but be built to modern standards, including a roof, to create the largest permanently-covered venue in England.

The complex is part of Bradford Council’s long-term strategy of harnessing the power of culture – including sport – to be an economic driver of clean, inclusive economic growth.

Bradford Live, a 4,800-capacity NEC-run venue, is already due to open in the city centre next year, the National Science and Media Museum is getting new gallery space, and a number of major investments are expected as part of Bradford’s City of Culture celebrations in 2025.

Odsal is in Bradford South, which currently ranks bottom out of all English constituencies for school-age social mobility. Some 34% of under 19s live in relative low-income families.

The council believes a new centre of excellence for Rugby League provides a once in a generation opportunity to break the cycle of poverty by investing in the future of this community and creating an outstanding venue that the whole district can be proud of and benefit from.

The complex is subject to a bid to the second round of the government’s Levelling Up Fund, which has two potential awards of £50million for culture-led schemes. Additional funding would come from private- and public-sector partners.

Independent analysis of the largest 34 towns and cities in England by Etopia Homes has identified Bradford as the UK’s number One levelling-up opportunity, in terms of both need and economic potential.

Culture and sport are seen as major economic opportunities in Bradford – which has one of the youngest and most dynamic populations in the UK, but like many northern cities suffers from a skills deficit.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “Independent analysis has shown that Bradford is the country’s number one levelling up opportunity and these ambitious plans build on our long-term strategy to harness the power of sport and culture to level up our great city district and drive economic growth.”

“Rugby League was created to help level up the north of England by enabling working class players to be compensated for taking time off work to play rugby.”

“Rugby League is woven into the fabric of Bradford and the north of England. By building a regional skills centre and the largest permanently covered stadium in the country, we can harness the power of Rugby League to level up again by creating well-paid careers and jobs for thousands of young men and women in Bradford and across Yorkshire and the North East.”

“Bradford can create a home for Rugby League which reflects the status of both the sport and the city, and which will generate almost £1bn in economic benefits for the people of Bradford over a decade. We are committed to working with the RFL to deliver a sport and training facility which provides skills and generates job opportunities for young people in Bradford and beyond.”

Tony Sutton, Chief Operating Officer at the Rugby Football League, said: “The birth of Rugby League perfectly embodies this Government’s mission to level up the country.”

“The entire reason our game began was to level up opportunities for people in the north by compensating them for playing the sport they love.”

“Rugby League is more than just a game – it creates opportunity, much needed employment and brings real social, economic and health benefits to communities. Rugby League can again help to level up by creating jobs and opportunities for people across the north. What we need Government help with is creating grass roots opportunities for people to play the game and build their careers.”

“Bradford has a rich history in Rugby League as home to former Super League and World Club champions and an iconic stadium which delivered our sport’s largest ever attendance – a crowd of more than 100,000 people watching this great sport. This world-class complex would put Britain’s sixth-largest city back at the heart of British sport.”

“The skills, educational and training centre would be a focal point for education – allowing youngsters to work side-by-side with national team squads and match officials, helping to drive up aspiration and achievement in Bradford and across Yorkshire and the North East.”

Bradford Bulls chairman, Nigel Wood OBE, said: “We are extremely impressed by and applaud the scale of the ambition for Odsal Stadium and its immediate surroundings, conceived by our civic leaders and the RFL.”

“It is to be particularly welcomed and commended that there is a very strong educational and training dimension to the scheme, an aspect with fits perfectly into our club’s aspiration to be a good corporate citizen, providing training, skills, welfare, opportunity and employment for our community beyond simply being a great rugby league social enterprise.”

Judith Cummins, Labour MP for Bradford South and Chair of the All Party Rugby League Group in parliament, said: “I have always been vocal in my belief that sport is one of Bradford’s greatest cultural assets and I have seen first-hand how sport changes lives and unites people.”

“The people of Bradford are passionate about sport and Rugby League so this represents a major opportunity for the city. The ambitious plans that I have been shown will bring increased prosperity, skills, and job opportunities through regeneration of this vital part of south Bradford.”

“The extra £1bn that this new complex would create would have a transformational effect on the whole city, which has been identified by an independent study as the UK’s leading ‘levelling up’ opportunity.”

“By weaving together top-level sport and entertainment with a world-class skills and training base, this proposal offers the perfect example of how sport and culture can be used as a lever to create new economic growth and opportunity in the communities that need, and deserve, it most.”