Student-athlete Kyden ‘over the moon’ at signing for Leeds Rhinos

One of our student-athletes has achieved a lifelong dream by signing for Leeds Rhinos.

Kyden Frater is the latest success story to emerge from Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Development Academy programme, which is run in partnership with Leeds Sixth Form College and Leeds City College.

He has become the second player from the Development Academy team, following the signing of Mekhi Bridgeman-Reaney earlier this year, to sign a professional contract with the Rhinos.

Fulfilling a childhood dream

Kyden is one of seven members of the Academy squad to have just signed with the rugby league club. A lifelong Rhinos fan, he declared himself ‘over the moon’ – and credited the role of his community club, Milford, and the Development Academy in helping him reach this stage.

He said: “It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. Wearing that jersey which I’ve always wanted to wear, for the club I’ve supported since I was a little boy, is something I’ve wanted to do since I started playing rugby.”

Although usually a full-back, Kyden, who helped the Development Academy team reach the College Cup final this year, has already scored a couple of tries on the wing for the Rhinos Under-18s.

The Development Academy’s professional set-up has improved my game

He said: “It’s a good feeling scoring for the Rhinos and hearing the crowd there cheering you on and getting behind you really drives you on.

I played for Milford from a young age up until last year, when I moved into the Rhinos Academy and also played for the Development Academy team, which was great.

“I got to my first ever final and, although we didn’t get the result we needed, to play in my first final at Headingley was a special experience. Everything about the Development Academy is so professional and it’s good because you’re playing in a different environment from your club team, with a different set of mates.

“Some of those lads have never played competitively before so it’s a really good grounding and you definitely learn a lot from the coaches, which helps improve your game.

Kyden, who is studying a level 2 Fitness Instructing (gym) course, is determined to now push on and reach the very top level of his sport.

He added: “Hopefully if I keep working hard then eventually I’ll reach the first team, because that’s the next goal I want to achieve with the club.”

The Development Academy is part of Leeds Sports Connect, which offers quality education and training through a link between Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College and a number of local, professional sports clubs.

Deputy Principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, Ryan Grant, said: “The Development Academy team has had a fantastic year and to see another of their players sign up with the Rhinos is testament to that.

“Kyden has thoroughly earned this opportunity and we’re confident he will achieve great things as he pushes on to the next level.

“Making amazing opportunities like this achievable is the driving force behind the development academy, and Leeds Sports Connect – so it is really rewarding to see student-athletes like Kyden take their chance.

“We’re really proud of him!”

To learn more about the Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Development Academy click here.

College’s rugby team edge semi-final cup thriller

Leeds Sixth Form College’s rugby players are celebrating a dramatic semi-final victory which earned them a place in next month’s National Colleges Cup Final. 

The college’s team, which is part of the Leeds Rhinos Development Academy with Leeds Sports Connect, defeated New College Pontefract by scoring in Golden Point of the National College Cup Semi-Final on Wednesday 9 March.

The match was hard-fought and ended all level at 12-12 in normal time, with the Leeds side reduced to 12 men after a late sin-binning – setting up an all-or-nothing Golden Point period.

Leeds Rhinos Development Academy Head Coach, and former Leeds City College student, Harvey Whiteley, said: “The yellow card gave New College Pontefract a real shot in the arm and they managed to pull it back late on, scoring a converted try and a penalty.

“Pontefract then pushed hard for a winner in the last seconds but thankfully we managed to hold out and take the game into Golden Point.

“The hosts, still holding a man advantage, kicked off in Golden Point but the young Rhinos marched downfield with the ball. 

“After brilliant play in the build up from Joe Taylor, Prop Forward Harry Thompson stormed his way under the posts to score the winning try for us. With that, the whistle blew and this sparked jubilant scenes for the victorious Leeds team who have reached their first ever College Cup final.”

Half-time talk turns the match

Harvey credited a motivational talk that was given by the coaches at half-time, when Leeds were trailing 0-4, for sparking the fightback that ultimately led to victory.

Both of the Rhinos tries had come earlier in the second half, when there were scores from rising star Mekhi Bridgeman-Reaney and Tyler Dargan, followed by a penalty goal from Ethan Newboult that gave them a 12-4 lead.

Despite the setback of losing a man and being pegged back to 12-12 in the dying moments of the game, the side showed great resilience to come up with the winning score and clinch their place in the final. 

Posting on Twitter afterwards, Harvey was full of praise for his team’s ‘outstanding effort’. He added: “I am very much looking forward to my first final as a coach.”

The Leeds Rhinos Development Academy team can now look forward to a cup final against either Hopwood Hall or Warrington, who will contest the other Semi Final on Wednesday 16 March.

*Leeds Sports Connect is a partnership between leading local sports providers and two colleges, Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College. The project is designed to give student athletes the best of both worlds by combining professional training with outstanding education.

The project‘s sports partners are: Leeds Rhinos Foundation, Leeds United Foundation, The Hunslet Club, Ultimate Football Coaching Academy, and Let’s Do More, which all have outstanding facilities and coaching regimes.

For more information, please visit