Hull rivals announce academy merger plan

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Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell insists the controversial decision to combine academies with city rivals Hull FC is not a pre-cursor to a full merger.

The two Super League rivals yesterday revealed plans to join both academies under one roof at Bishop Burton College – home of Hull City’s football academy – from next year.

Both clubs will then select academy recruits via a draft system. No name for the joint academy has been decided, but they will play in the “neutral colours” of yellow and blue.

Despite the link-up, Robins chief Hudgell has vowed a merger between the two rival clubs is “not going to happen on my watch”.

He said: “I’m sure this decision will divide opinion but I am confident that when supporters find out more about the joint academy, they will understand the reasons why we have made this move and the benefits it will bring to all parties.

“It is in no way, shape or form a pre-cursor to a full merger between the clubs.

“We have always been outspoken about the pride, passion, history and rivalry that exists between the two sides and that will never change.

“I’m a fifth-generation Rovers fan and I cannot ever see the day when there is only one Rugby League club in Hull.

“I’m sure everybody else feels the same way and it’s certainly not going to happen on my watch. That rivalry will be maintained at senior level and it will be a case of business as usual for the first team.

Hull FC owner Adam Pearson said: “We often shout about Hull as a hotbed of rugby league talent, a founding home for the sport, but the harsh reality is that the talent pool is smaller than it once was.”

RFL chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer said: “Hull and Rovers are leading the way with this creation of a ‘Super Academy’ which could provide a model for other clubs to follow.”