Brighton and Hove are the newest addition to the growing X-League clubs across the UK. Phil Ward lays out the clubs aims and objectives.

Brighton & Hove Rugby League started in 2021 with the mission to build a sustainable rugby league club, culture and community in the city of Brighton & Hove and the wider Sussex region.

Our goal is to introduce lots of players to the amazing sport of rugby league, and to create lots of opportunities for players of all ages, genders and ability levels. We also want to make sure we have a strong off-the-field scene – both in terms of creating lots of volunteer opportunities but also lots of opportunities to watch rugby league together.

X-League ties in to this goal as a core part of our growth strategy. The profile of a rugby player has changed over the last twenty years – work patterns, family commitments and other factors mean that it’s harder for players to commit to the regular training & playing schedule of a full season.

Others may work jobs where the risk of injury is too great for them to play full contact rugby. We’re using X-League as the format of the game that most closely resembles the full contact version but without those risks. Our sessions are run in a “turn up and play” format – so there’s never a coach shouting at you when you make a mistake! It also means players can dip in and out as their availability allows. We see it as an excellent opportunity to introduce new players to the sport who may choose to progress to full contact, but also as a great casual run out for people who want a bit of weekly exercise in a social setting.

As a new club starting out, we made X-League our first activity. Not only did it mean that we could have men and women playing together, but also allowed players who used to play a chance to get involved, even if they didn’t have the same fitness levels they used to! We tend to have around 20-25 players each week for a 90-minute session, which means more people playing the game. About half the players are playing full contact as well and using it as a fitness & skills session and the other half is players who only play X-League.

I think it’s well worth clubs looking at a social offer like X-League – based on the numbers above, if we were just running full contact rugby, we’d probably not be engaging around 15-20 people at all. These players can become members, helping us to fund our club in a sustainable way, but we’ve also found people to volunteer, found someone whose company is now sponsoring us and, perhaps most importantly, it’s created a really good vibe around our club.

X-League competitions manager Dec Foy added, “We are delighted to see Rugby League growing in the south east of England and that X-League is assisting that, we are also looking forward to seeing players from the area in both a World Cup and a 4 way competition with Scotland, Lithuania and West Oxfordshire later in the year.