RESERVE grade rugby league will return on February 19, 2022, after a two-year, Covid-enforced, hiatus, which is great news for those trying to break into the first team at Bradford Bulls.

A 13-team competition will consist of the 12 clubs now running licenced academies, plus Salford Red Devils.

The same 12 clubs will also field teams in an Under 18s academy competition, commencing on March 12.

Fixtures across both competitions will be staggered so that there is only ever one sub-first team level game taking place on any given weekend.

Round one of the 14-round reserves competition will see the three Championship clubs visiting Super League opposition, including Bulls’ trip to St Helens.

Round one of the 13-round academy competition again sees all three Championship clubs drawn away from home, with Bulls in action at Hull KR.

Dave Rotheram, the RFL’s Chief On-Field Officer, said: “I am delighted to be able to announce the fixtures and competition structures, and thank all the participating clubs for their support.

“The return of reserve grade rugby league alongside an academy Under 18s competition provides a full pathway for our developing players as they transition towards senior football.

“Running the competitions on alternate weekends will provide appropriate playing opportunities for all players within the academy and reserves structure.

“And with both competitions culminating in play-off series, we are creating high-pressure matches at the business end of the season, which will further aid players’ development through knock-out football and stimulate supporter interest.”

The reserves competition grand final will take place on September 17, followed by the academy grand final on the weekend of September 24.