Rhinos build for the future as hunt for young rugby stars begins

Haringey Rhinos are searching for their future first-team stars after launching their new youth section at White Hart Lane.

The Rhinos will have a new Under-13 side in action next season, and have now started open training sessions on Sundays to recruit new players and prepare the squad for their first season.

Haringey’s youngsters will kick off their campaign on October 2 against Finchley in the Herts Middlesex Under-13s Junior League Division Seven – and this is only the first step.

As youth secretary Helen Rayfield explains, the ultimate goal is to create an entire youth system, which will all feed into the first XI.

“The plan is to start an Under-13 team this year. Then when they move up to Under-14 level in 2012 we’ll start another Under-13 team,” said Rayfield, 33, who lives on Haringey Road in Tottenham.

“In the next four years we want to have teams going all the way from Under-13 to Under-16, with each age group moving up together.

“I hope there’s a demand for this. The problem is that we’re right in the middle of Tottenham, which is obviously a massive football area – but we’re hoping to get kids from Muswell Hill and Crouch End.

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“We’re taking everyone, boys and girls of all abilities, and the main thing is it’s completely free.

“It’s the summer holidays now so if young people want something to do at the weekends then we’re here, every Sunday.

“We won’t be setting up a mixed team so the girls won’t actually be able to play competitively this season, but they’re very welcome to come down and join in with training – and if we get enough of them we will set up a girls team.

“The Rugby World Cup’s coming up in a couple of months so hopefully that will reignite some interest in the sport – we’ve seen that happen in the past – and of course it’s the Olympics next year, right here in London.

“The whole aim of the Olympics is to help to get children into sport, and that’s exactly what we’re aiming to do.”

Youth players will not be expected to pay any fees for the first season because Education First have agreed to sponsor the campaign, while Ape Media are providing training equipment.

The Rhinos have also been awarded a small grant from ‘Give it a Go!’ to provide mouth guards for their new recruits.

The training sessions are being held place every Sunday at the club’s grounds on White Hart Lane, N22, between 11am and 1pm.

“We’ve got 12 coaches who are all volunteers, they’ve all done the Rugby Ready course and they’re all first-team players so the whole club is fully behind this,” said Rayfield.

“For us, it’s all about sustaining the future of the Haringey Rhinos because the first team can’t keep going forever – they can only play until they’re 32 or 33.

“The aim is that the players who join our Under-13s next season will be working their way into the first team in four or five years.

“The club’s been around since 1963 so we want to look to the future, increase our standing in the borough and give something back to the community.”

Anyone who is interested in joining Haringey Rhinos’ youth ranks should email haringeyyouthrugby@gmail.com, or visit the website at www.haringeyrhinos.com/youth-team