RUGBY LEAGUE; Academy sees codes coming together

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LEADING OFFICIALS from rugby league and rugby union will get together at Twickenham today to discuss proposals for a joint Academy.

But the Rugby Football League chief executive, Neil Tunnicliffe, immediately ruled out the prospect of sharing players. Tunnicliffe was responding to reports that the England rugby union coach, Clive Woodward, wanted to revive a plan to recruit top league stars such as Wigan's Gary Connolly, Kris Radlinski and Jason Robinson and that talks about a joint player initiative were on the table.

The Academy is being established in the north of England to service the needs of both codes and Tunnicliffe insisted that players will not be on the agenda.

"We are seeking a capital grant worth around pounds 3m from Sport England to create a player development Academy in the north and one of the conditions is that it will be available to both codes," he said.

"We will be meeting the Rugby Football Union to discuss the matter of bricks and mortar. Human beings are not on the agenda.

"There have been no talks about joint player initiatives in previous meetings and nor would we countenance any in the future."

Woodward is thought to have cast his eyes back towards the likes of Connolly as he seeks to fill the void created by the retirement of Jeremy Guscott.

Bradford, this year's Super League runners-up, have signed Hudson Smith from Salford. The Australian back-rower has signed a three-year contract with the Bulls after spending a year at The Willows.

Francis Cummins, the Great Britain threequarter, has signed a new three- year contract with Leeds, but the Rhinos have lost their centre, Marvin Golden, who has joined Halifax Blue Sox on a one-year contract. Golden, who joined Leeds in 1994 from Hunslet Parkside, is the fourth close-season signing made by Halifax.