A far-reaching independent report into the future of Rugby League in West Cumbria commissioned and supported by the RFL, Whitehaven and Workington Town has been published.

The publication follows an in-depth review of the two clubs and the sport in West Cumbria led by consultant Alan Rapley and seeks to evaluate the existing Rugby League infrastructure in the region and its potential for growth.
Lee Mitchell Whitehaven
The report’s recommendations are based on the information and opinions of a comprehensive range of stakeholders, including administrators, management, partners and sponsors who were involved in an extensive consultation process in 2014.

The Rapley Report recognises that changes need to be made to Rugby League in West Cumbria that will require Whitehaven and Workington Town to work collaboratively.

It highlights key areas of focus for both Whitehaven and Workington Town, including improving facilities and stadiums, addressing the issue of declining attendances and building on the appetite for the sport in West Cumbria evidenced by the Rugby League World Cup 2013, when more than 14,000 people attended matches at Derwent Park, Workington.

In the short term the two clubs will focus on their own futures whilst acknowledging the need to work together to grow the sport in West Cumbria. One of the key immediate areas of focus is to strengthen links between the sport at professional and community levels, a process that is assisted by the recent joint award of Sky Try funding

RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer said: “I would like to congratulate Whitehaven and Workington Town on their foresight in commissioning this independent review, which stemmed from a meeting between myself, my colleague Jon Dutton and the two clubs in the aftermath of RLWC2013.

“The recommendations within the Rapley Report provide both clubs with exciting opportunities to grow both their own businesses and the sport at community level across the region.

“In essence, the report highlights that greater opportunities to advance the sport in West Cumbria are available if the two professional clubs work together strategically in different areas of their operation.

“Such strategic approaches are becoming more common both across sport and industry, as clubs and companies strive to maximise their potential for growth in an ever more competitive world.”

Alan Rapley was the 1996 GB Olympic swimming team captain and has also been a swimming coach to numerous Olympic swimmers. He has previously worked with the England Rugby League team.

Sky Try is a seven year programme that will support and develop grassroots participation of the sport across the UK.